Monday, August 30, 2010

Perfect winter pears

Half the people I invited to dinner this week were recovering from the latest nasty recurring cold that has been around this winter. The other half were worried about catching it! Chicken soup has always been my ultimate comfort food for illness and as it made sense to feed everyone copious amounts of garlic and chilli, I made a huge pot of chicken laksa with extra hot crunchy blachan on the side.

I was really stuck about what to serve for dessert. Whatever I made had to be quick to prepare and no fuss. Pears have been a good buy lately and I bought a couple of kilos of not quite ripe Packhams. I still had no idea of what to cook.  An e mail has been circulating on the health benefits of cinnamon and honey and I was sure the pantry would bring further inspiration.

Here's what I came up with:

Poached Pears in Ginger Wine

8 Pears, peeled but with stalks and cores left intact
1 C clear apple juice
1/2  C green ginger wine
3 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod split lengthwise
2 Tbsp honey

Cut a slice from the base of each pear so it sits flat.
Place in a slow cooker or a deep baking dish.
Place cinnamon, juice and wine into the dish, pouring the liquids over the pears.
Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod and add seeds and pod to the dish.
Drizzle the honey over the pears.
Cover and cook on high for six hours in the slow cooker or covered in foil for an hour in 180˚C oven.
Baste occasionally with the juices.
The cinnamon will turn the juice a lovely pink.                                               

Serve pears with some of the syrup, which can be reduced to thicken if you wish, with crème fraiché, yoghurt or custard.  

Perhaps the vanilla pod was an unusual addition but as Amita had just arrived back with the softest most luscious smelling vanilla pods from Indonesia, how could I not use them? We have more than we need, so we have a limited amount for sale. If you would like some, click here.                      

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