Spiced pears and Dorset Crofter Sheep Cheese make a marvellous culinary partnership.
Make sure the pears are ripe but firm-textured. If possible, use freshly shelled walnuts and top-quality peppercorns, such as Tellicherry. It’s best to use whole peppercorns rather than pre-ground.
Cook’s tip: Crack the peppercorns by pounding them with a mortar and pestle. Then sieve them to get rid of any dust.
Recipe ©Christine McFadden 2016
- 6 Pears ripe but firm-textured
- juice of 1 Lemon
- 300g Dorset Crofter Sheep Cheese crumbled
- Shelled walnuts to garnish
- Traditional balsamic vinegar
For the spiced syrup
- 600ml water
- 300g sugar
- 2 Vanilla pods split
- 2 tsp Black peppercorns cracked (see Cook’s Tip above)
- First make the spiced syrup. Put the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Add the vanilla pods and peppercorns. Bring to the boil, then boil for 10–15 minutes, or until the bubbles look large and syrupy.
- While the syrup is bubbling away, trim the pears at the top and bottom, and slice in half lengthways. Remove the core with a melon baller if you have one, or a teaspoon. Remove the peel, and put the halves in a bowl, tossing with the lemon juice.
- Arrange the pear halves in a frying pan large enough to take them in a single layer. Pour in the hot syrup – enough to almost cover them.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer over medium heat for 10–15 minutes until the pears are just tender. Remove with a perforated spoon and set aside. Reserve the syrup. Fish out the vanilla pods if you like.
- Arrange the warm pears in a shallow serving dish. Spoon over a little of the reserved syrup. Scatter over the walnuts and the cheese. Finish with a dribble of balsamic vinegar.