Poached Pears with Basil Syrup
Many pears need a little help from aromatic herbs or spices to enhance their flavour. This recipe for poached pears infused in basil syrup is a wonderful dessert - an I've also included lots of variations for you to try once you've mastere the basic method.
In season: Homegrown best in autumn but available year round.
200 g (7oz/scant 1 cup) sugar
450ml (15fl oz/scant 2 cups) water
6-8 Basil leaves
45 ml (3 tablespoons/3 American tablespoons + 3 teaspoons) freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 firm pears
Put the sugar, water, basil and lemon juice into a shallow, wide pan: we use a stainless steel sauté pan. Stir to dissolve the sugar and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile peel the pears, half and core them. As you cut them put then into the simmering syrup cut side uppermost.
Cover with a paper lid and the lid of the pan, cook gently for 20-30 minutes, spooning the syrup over them every now and then. Carefully take the pears out and arrange them in a serving dish in a single layer, cut side downwards. Taste the syrup and, if necessary, simmer over a gentle heat with the lid off for a few minutes to concentrate the flavour. Becareful not to cook it for too long, or the syrup with carmelise.
Remover the basil and pour the syrup over the pears then set aside to cool. Pour the syrup over the pears or reduce first
This compote keeps for several weeks covered in the fridge.
The poached pears will keep for several weeks, covered, in the fridge.
Omit the saffron and cardamom and simply add the thinly pared rind and juice of 1 lemon.
Poached Pears with Sweet Geranium Leaves
Omit the saffron and cardamom pods. Add 3 or 4 large sweet geranium leaves to the cold water and sugar in the saucepan, and proceed as in the master recipe.
Poached Pears with Lemon Verbena Leaves
Omit the saffron and cardamom pods. Add 4-6 lemon verbena leaves to the cold water and sugar in the saucepan, and proceed as in the master recipe.
Poached Pears with Grated Ginger
Add 1 inch (2.5cm) of thinly sliced fresh ginger to the sugar and water instead of the sweet geranium and proceed as above.
Ginger Poached Pears
Replace the basil with a 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, cut into thin slivers.
Taken from Grow, Cook, Nourish by Darina Allen, published by Kyle Books.