Poached pear and figs with toasted almonds
8 dried figs
1 cinnamon quill (about 8-10cm long)
2 star anise
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthways
the juice of 1 lemon and 1 strip of its peel (make sure there is no pith attached)
100g unrefined caster sugar
4 firm ripe pears (Williams, Comice, Conference or concord)
60g flaked almonds, toasted
Little Melton pear yogurt – as much as you want
Remove the woody stem from the figs and cut into halves or quarters, depending how big they are.
Place in a pan (that will comfortably hold the pears) and add the spices, vanilla, lemon juice and peel and the sugar.
Add 600ml water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes.
Peel the pears and cut in half lengthways. Remove the core and seeds with a teaspoon or melon-baller, and add to the simmering liquid.
The liquid needs to just cover the pears, if there isn’t enough then top up with boiling water. Bring to the boil, then return to a rapid simmer.
Make a cartouche by cutting a disc of baking parchment the a little larger than the diameter of the pan (use the lid as a template) and cut a small hole in the middle (to let steam escape). Sit this on top of the pears and cook for at least 20 minutes, although the pears may need 30-40 in total. They’re cooked when a thin knife can be very easily inserted. Leave to cool completely in the pot, then store, covered in the liquid, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
To serve, place 2 pear halves in a bowl along with the equivalent of 1 fig, spoon on some of the poaching liquid and dollop on the pear yogurt then scatter with the almonds.
Note: the poaching liquid can be used several times for poaching fruit. It can also be reduced to a syrup before being strained and used to drizzle over desserts or mixed with tonic water or sparkling water as a refreshing drink. Or add a slug of gin if it’s that time of the day!
Recipe (c) Peter Gordon 2011