Recipe: pears poached in red wine

Because you’ve been very good, I’m going to give you one of my favourite easy dessert recipes. I mean, you could do this blindfolded (don’t). It’s ridiculously easy, but hugely satisfying, and a completely fuss-free option for finishing off a supper with friends. While it’s perhaps a little Autumnal, so is the weather. Cool, richly flavoured pear, hot spiced sugar syrup, and the chill of a vanilla-flecked ice cream make this a real crowd-pleaser.

This particular recipe is for 4 people, but it’s easy to adapt the quantities accordingly.

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Pears poached in red wine

4 firm pears, peeled and with stalks in tact
500ml red wine
1 vanilla pod, split
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
125g caster sugar
2 tbsp honey
Peel and juice of 1 orange

1. Put all of the ingredients apart from the pears into a saucepan and head until the sugar dissolves.

2. Slice the bottoms off the pears to make sure they stand upright, and place in the saucepan. If you like it, then you should put a lid on it. For 25-30 minutes to be precise, allowing it to simmer.

3. Turn the heat off and let the pears sit in the liquid for at least two hours to fully infuse them with the liquid.

4. When you’re ready to serve, simply plate up the pears, then bring the remaining syrup to a boil. Pour it over the pears and serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you’re going commercial, it HAS to be Green & Black’s, which is the very best store bought vanilla ice cream I’ve ever had.

Happy cooking! Coming up soon, a veggie bangers and mash recipe, burger chat, and Ben Ainslie’s boat.

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Spaghetti with roasted vine tomatoes in white wine sauce

G’day, mates – no particular reason for the Aussie intro, but it’s a Monday, so let’s go with it. As I mentioned briefly in my last post, I’m down in Cornwall at the moment, and due to a lack of my usual ingredients and utensils, I’ve only been making very simple suppers. That said, I’ve got access to some wonderful greengrocers and delis, so the quality of my ingredients is much higher, a fact which I’m trying to make the most of.

As you might have gathered from my recent recipe posts, such as my veggie burgers, I’m on a bit of a veggie crusade right now. I’m fed up of missing out on certain flavours and techniques in restaurants, instead being offered the standard goat’s cheese tart or mushroom risotto. I’m vegetarian BUT I STILL HAVE TASTEBUDS, GODDAMMIT. Anyway, I fancied a spaghetti dish with a fragrant white wine sauce to emulate a seafood spaghetti dish, so here goes:

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Serves 3-6, depending on how hungry you are

Roasted tomatoes

Tomatoes on the vine, roughly 16
Olive oil to drizzle
3 lemon slices
3 garlic cloves
Salt & pepper

Sauce

300ml white wine
2 garlic cloves
1/2 white onion
500ml veg stock
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper

Assembly

250g spaghetti
Two handfuls baby spinach or rocket leaves
Large handful basil
Cheese, to taste

1. Heat oven to 180°C. Keeping your tomatoes on the vine, place them in foil or a roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Smash garlic cloves with the handle of a knife and wedge in with the tomatoes, along with the three thick lemon slices. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until the skins start to split (sounds pretty gross, right?)

2. Meanwhile, start your sauce off. Heat a drizzle of olive oil while you finely chop your onion and garlic. Sweat both in the pan until the onion is translucent, then add the wine. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until the sauce begins to reduce down. Add bay leaves and stock, and keep simmering away, tasting occasionally, for about 30 minutes.

3. Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions – feels like a real cop out writing that in my recipe, but hey ho. Wash spinach or rocket and leave to drain. Stack basil leaves on top of each other and roll up so it looks like you’re going to be up to no good with it, then slice – this will give you ribbons of basil and is called ‘Chiffonade’. Pretty cool, eh?

4. To assemble, drain spaghetti and add it to the pan containing the sauce. Slice off half of the tomatoes and stir them in, preserving the rest on the vine. Add leaves, basil, and finely grate a cheese of your choice and stir it all in, leaving the flavours to marry together on the stove for about 10 minutes. Top with two tomatoes still on the vine on each dish, some more grated cheese, a lemon wedge, and a thick slice of sourdough or crusty bread to mop up flavours.

Bon appetit! Coming up soon, a write up of the Maritime museum in Falmouth, pictures of actual SUN, and more recipes…

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