Pears are so photogenic, you could almost say that they are too pretty to eat.
These pears have been treated to a simple poaching - Escoffier would be so proud. In a syrup with cinnamon stick, lemon peel and vanilla pod the pears gently simmer until softened.
4 firm pears, choose those that have a stalk for better presentation
4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, split
1 lemon, peeled and juiced
Place the water and sugar in a deep saucepan (it needs to be big enough to hold the pears) and under a gentle heat, stirring occasionally, cook until the sugar has dissolved.
Meanwhile, peel the pears, you can core them if you like, it's up to you but do leave the stem in place.
Place the peeled pears in water (with the lemon peel) so it doesn't brown as you peel the remaining fruit.
When the sugar syrup is just below boiling point add the lemon peel and lemon juice, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod. Stir, then add the peeled pears. Make sure they fit under the syrup. Turn the heat down and very gently simmer, without boiling, until the pears have softened.
This should take somewhere between 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the pears.
Remove the pears and leave them to cool outside of the syrup. Let the syrup cool in the pan.
Only when both the pears and the syrup are cold should you store them together.
You can serve the pears warm or cold - they would work well with rice pudding, custard, ice cream and cream.
You'll also notice that the lemon peel has softened and become very sweet - if you slice this very finely, you can serve it over the fruit for a little extra pizzaz.