Our break definitely did the job – I feel realigned. We spent lazy days traipsing through squelchy fields and damp woods, mushroom spotting and deer sighting, and generally building up appetites to sate. Here’s one of the things I made whilst we were away – spiced poached pears are nothing new, but the port and the blackberries infuse the whole thing with a deep, almost heady aroma that feels quite decadent, especially if, like us, you eat it with double cream.
4 pears (I used comice), peeled but left whole
300ml red wine
Juice of 1 orange
Zest of half an orange, pared off in strips
1 large cinnamon stick
About 6 cardamom pods
1 star anise
3 tbsp. golden caster sugar (or to taste)
A good handful of blackberries
Choose a saucepan that accommodates all of the pears lain on their sides. Add all of the ingredients, bar the orange peel, pears and blackberries, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the pears and orange.
Cook on one side for about ten to fifteen minutes, then flip them over and throw the blackberries into the pan. Cook for a further fifteen minutes or so, or until soft. Let them cool in the pan, before transferring to the fridge and chilling overnight to let the flavours develop. Remove the spices before serving.