One of the classics of British cuisine is to poach pears in red wine or syrup. As a variation on this, I sometimes createa sweet spicy syrupto poach the pears in, then reduce these to a thick, sweet sauce. Recently, however, I have been thinking about how to use teas and infusions in my cooking, as well as the impact of different liquids such as beer versus wine and even different beers, to add extra depth to the flavour of your food without bringing in too much extra complexity.
So as an experiment, I brewed up a large pot of Red Chai Tea, which I make with an organicrooibos teafrom South Africa and my own flavour combination of spices. I left this to steep for a bit then filtered out the sweet, orangey-red tea that is coloured like an amazing African sunset. Next, you add a mix of ginger powder, saffron and Madagascanvanillaand a light muscovado sugar to the tea; in my usual recipe, I add lemon zest but not here as there is lemongrass in the chai spice mix. This is the base flavour for the pears and the sweet sauce, which you then use to poach some pears.
At this time of the year, pears are deliciously ripe but you can use this recipe even on the most flavourless brick of a pear in mid winter and get some flavour into them and soften them up, so it is good for your five-a-day. The result are perfectly soft and succulent sweet pears in a sweet sauce that has a richly luxuriant saffron-vanilla flavour. Sometimes, I finish my normal versions of this recipe with a vanilla whipped cream, but that really is almost too decadent and I did not have any cream the other night. Eating with a knife and fork, the knife just glides through the soft flesh of the pear and the taste is heavenly with the characteristic sweetness of the pears perfectly offset by the chocolately, creaminess of the vanilla.
It does take a bit of time to make, but not much effort. And simple is often the best thing in life. It's becomea real family favourite.