Spiced Poached Pears
4 large fresh pears, peeled but leaving stems on
1/2 cup honey
1 bottle Beaumes-de-Venise or other sweet muscat based wine
4 large strips lemon peel (yellow part only)
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds gently scraped out
2 cinnamon sticks
4 whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
8 allspice berries
Vanilla ice cream
In a large saucepan, combine all the ingredients (except ice cream). Over moderate heat, bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer until the pears are cooked through, about 15-20 minutes, gently turning from time to time so they are evenly coated. (Do not cover)
Remove from the heat, and using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a large shallow bowl. Set aside. Strain the liquid into another saucepan; discard the spices, lemon and vanilla bean. Place it over high heat and reduce until the liquid is light and syrupy, about 10 minutes. Let liquid cool slightly and then pour it over the cooled pears. Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours before serving.
To serve, cut each pear in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, on a dessert plate. Serve with ice cream, spooning the liquid over the pears and ice cream.
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