Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Dietary guidance: v v
1 L boiling water
3 cinnamon quills
2 vanilla beans
2 pieces of star annise
To prepare the pears, get a bucket of water with a bit of lemon juice added and then peel the pears and remove the seeds.
If you then put the pears in the lemon juice, it stops them from browning. This goes for most similar fruits, and is a useful tip for fruit cooking.
Important note - use a knife to cut the vanilla beans in halves, then to scrape the seeds out of the centre. The seeds are what give the vanilla bean the flavour and if not released from the pod, then they dont produce the maximum effect.
Also - vanilla bean choice is very important. You dont want to use old or dodgy vanilla beans, make sure you get good ones. I think the mexican ones are extra fat, and have something like twice the seeds per pod so in that case generally using one should be OK.
Once you have peeled pears with no seeds, you combine the sugar, and the pears with the rest of the ingredients into a pot on the boil.
The trick is; you have to keep the pears underwater. I am lucky as i have an italian cooking pot which comes with a metal strainer which i sink into the pot to stop the pears from floating out, but you might have to play around to figure out something like this for yourself.
Cook until the syrup is reduced to about half the origional volume, or until the pears look quite translucent and soft, but not too soft (this is where a bit of judgement is useful i suppose).
Served with ice cream, or cream, or by themselves or anything they are fantastic.