Peel 6 pears, but leave the stalk intact, then bring a large saucepan containing a bottle of red wine, 300ml water, 150g sugar, 1 cinnamon stick, a few cloves, a teaspoon vanilla-bean paste, orange and lemon zest and a handful each of dried apricots and figs or other dried fruit you may have to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, until the pears are soft and the dried fruit plump.
Remove the fruit with a slotted spoon and arrange on a platter. Scatter chopped nuts such as pistachio, cashews and hazelnuts over it. Return the wine syrup to the heat and simmer again until very reduced and syrupy. I like to serve the fruit cold, but with the syrup hot, and drizzle a little single cream over the top of the pears.
Pears ‘on horseback’
(below) Cut three pears into four wedges each, remove the stalk and stem and wrap each quarter in a bacon rasher, then bake—on a foillined baking sheet, to avoid any scrubbing later—in a hot oven for about 30 minutes or until the bacon is browned. Serve immediately as a canapé or add to a salad (while still warm) as a starter.
Peel and core 2lb of pears (about six) and cut them into chunks. Add them to a large pan, along with 2 sprigs rosemary, 125g dried apricots, 125g prunes, 200g sultanas, 100g crystallised ginger, 2 peeled and chopped red onions, 1 apple, 250g brown sugar and 500ml apple-cider vinegar. Bringing them to a simmer, cook for about an hour, until thickened, stirring to make sure the base doesn’t burn. Remove the rosemary and spoon into sterilised jars, place wax paper on the surface, leave to cool and then seal. Serve with mature cheeses.