Zoe Nathan is the pastry chef at Rustic Canyon and at Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica. She is buying small pears from Sea Canyon and poaching them. Make a simple syrup with 1:1 water and sugar. Add vanilla bean and the pears and slowly cook in the oven. She puts parchment paper over the lid of the pot. Here is a recipe from David Lebovitz:
David Lebovitz's Poached Pears
1 quart (1l) water
1 1/3 cup (265 g) sugar
4 Bosc pears; peeled, cored, and quartered
Additions: One cinnamon stick, 2 teaspoons whole cloves, black peppercorns or allspice berries, one lemon half, one split vanilla bean, 2-3 star anise, 6-8 fresh ginger slices
1. In a large saucepan, heat the water and sugar until warm and the sugar is dissolved. Add any of the additions that you wish.
2. Slide in the pears and cover with a round of parchment paper, with a small hole cut in the center.
3. Keep the liquid at a very low boil and simmer the pears until cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the pears.
4. Remove from heat and let the pears cool in their liquid.
Optional: After poaching the pears, while the liquid is still warm, add approximately 1/2 cup (120 g) dried sour cherries, cranberries, raisins, or dried currants and let them plump.
Alvaro Bautista from Mecca, CA is an organic date farmer. He sells Barhi and Halawi dates that can be eaten fresh, when they are crunchy. He also sells Khadrawi and Medjool dates that are dried and soft.