3 quite firm pears (I used Conference pears) peeled, cored and halved
1 lemon cut in half to rub the peeled pears with (it stops them from turning brown)
For the syrup:
1 litre of water
1 vanilla pod
3cm of ginger sliced (don't bother peeling it)
1 teaspoon of Allspice berries (it adds a bouquet of flavours: pepper, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon)
Parchment paper: cut out a circle the size of the saucepan to be used and make a pencil-sized hole in the middle (this also prevents the pears from discolouring)
1. Prepare the pears, core them making sure you take out the veins too. Keep a bit of the stalk.
2. Make the syrup: boil the sugar and water on the stovetop (medium to high heat), add the spices in soon after. Boil for a further 15 minutes.
3. Lower the heat slightly and add the pears. Cover the pan with the baking parchment, press into the pan so that it sits on top of the water. Simmer for 10-15 minutes or until done. To check for doneness insert a knife into the pear, if it goes in easily the pears are cooked.
4. Remove from the stove. Wrap the pan in clingfilm and refrigerate after cooling. If serving straight away, drain the pears and serve with a few spoonfuls of the syrup (without the spices and ginger of course but re-use the vanilla pod by keeping it in a jar of sugar- to make vanilla sugar). For a gourmand dessert, serve with a scoop of ice-cream such as Kulfi (Indian ice-cream).
Tip: the longer the pears sit in the syrup, the better they will taste.