A few weeks ago I couldn't stop thinking about pears - it's perhaps a bit of a testament to how often I think about food! Darting about in the car, I kept saying to myself 'don't forget to stop and buy pears'. I haven't eaten pears for such a long time and they really remind me of my mum, she loved a good conference pear. Anyhoo, I picked some up and ended up buying loads as they just looked so nice. 3 days later they were starting to soften and I was telling myself off for greedily buying so many. Then I spied the half drunk bottle of wine on the side (which isn't something you see around these parts very often) and had an idea.
So into the pan went anything I could find in the cupboard to spice these pears up a bit.
- Half a bottle of red wine (perfect when you have one needing using up that's not quite as nice to drink as when first opened)
- As many pears as you wish - I used 4
- 1 cinnamon stick snapped in half
- 4 star anise (increase by one for each extra pear)
- 200g golden caster sugar - I always use unrefined
- 1 vanilla pod, seeded
- 2 cloves (go easy on these little fellas - they are deceivingly strong!)
- Rind of half an orange (I use a standard peeler for this)
- Juice of the same half an orange
Pop the wine and sugar in a pan and bring to the boil, meanwhile peeling the pears and chopping off the bottom (this makes it easier to serve and eat later) and leaving the stalks. Add the peeled pears all the other ingredients to the pan on a high heat - allow to bubble away for a minute and then reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover. After about 25 mins, turn the pears (you'll see one half is beautifully saturated) and recover. Leave for another 25 mins and then remove the pears from the pan and set aside, covering with foil or popping into a warm oven. Now, remove the cinnamon and cloves and ramp up the heat on the uncovered syrup until it starts to thicken - this should take around 5-8 mins.
Pour this over the pear and serve with vanilla ice cream - such guilt free indulgent bliss!
These pears will keep in the fridge for many days so you can make ahead of a dinner party and will provide a simple but impressive pud.
The light rapidly left my kitchen as I left these pears bubbling away so the end picture isn't the best!
Formally Emma Gutteridge