Winter warmers

With the colder weather the kitchen is the ideal place to keep warm, with long slow braises and stews on the stove top, or baking everything from casseroles, bread, roasts and cakes, and sweet treats.
Winter is also a time for pears and what a variety there is to choose from: Rosella, Packhams, Beurre bosc, Josephine, Red Anjou, Red Sensation, and Nashi.
Pears are high in fibre and are lovely cooked or fresh and crisp. They are also very versatile and can be poached, roasted, stewed, baked or eaten fresh. Pears can be used both in desserts or in a salad where they can be sliced thinly and go well with a strong cheese or a mild ricotta. They can be used when they are ripe and soft or hard and crispy.
When poaching them, save the skin peelings and roast them in a hot oven for some added crunchy texture as a garnish to the poached pears. I like slicing them thinly and roasting them until crisp, again adding texture to a pear dessert or to have with a cheese platter.
I often poach pears in a sugar syrup with white wine and spices, sometimes with some saffron strands for added flavour
and colour, and sometimes in red wine with some cloves and cinnamon and a hit of ginger, and the pears take on the colour of the wine. Great with a simple custard or even cream or yoghurt and a chocolate sauce or grated dark chocolate. Sliced or quartered pears can be baked in a frangipane mixture for a warm winter treat.
Pears when poached are great dessert when entertaining as they can be done beforehand and left in the fridge until the day required and warmed up in the oven or served at room temperature.
Check out the recipe for this poached pear with a orange muscat syrup and goats cheese and labne cream, pear crisps and pistachio praline. Heavenly!

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