Michael Psilakis is getting Greek cuisine its rightful place on the culinary map: Named a Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef, and Bon Appetit’s and Esquire magazine's Chef of the Year, Psilakis recently was invited to the White House, where he cooked for President Obama and his guests. This recipe from Psilakis's forthcoming cookbook turns the Mediterranean attitude into a great way to end a meal. Pears can be enjoyed in this preparation even when they are not at the peak of ripeness. The little bit of cooking adds sweetness and creates a tender bite. You can use low- or non-fat Greek yogurt for this recipe as well. It is rich and creamy even without the fat.
½ cup walnut halves
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 pears, peeled, cored, and cut in chunks
2 cups Greek yogurt *
1. In a 300 degree oven, toast the walnuts until aromatic, about 5 minutes. Chop coarsely, set aside.
2. Place water, sugar, spices, and pear into a saucepan and boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the pear is tender.
3. Scoop ½ cup of yogurt into a bowl and top with pear and sprinkle with some of the cooking liquid. Top with crushed walnuts.
* If you can’t get good Greek yogurt, you can always strain regular yogurt overnight in cheesecloth or a kitchen towel to achieve the same thick, mousse-like texture.