Nick Cullen gets all romantic!

IF you’re cooking for a loved one this Valentine’s Day weekend, try my pears poached in red wine for a simple yet sophisticated dessert to finish off your romantic meal.

Poaching the fruit in wine creates some lovely contrasting flavours; the robust red wine, soft delicate pears and zing of the spices creates a really refined pudding.

The added bonus is that you can make this dish in advance which means you can just whip it out at the end of the meal without having to leave your date alone at the table for too long.

I’d recommend preparing the day before to allow the flavours to really infuse and to give the pears time to absorb the wine and spices. If not, give them at least four hours before serving.

I like Rioja but you can use any red wine of your choice as long as it’s a good quality bottle - this will greatly improve the final flavour. Serve with a scoop of rich vanilla ice cream or mascarpone to compliment to sharp, spicy flavours of the wine and a handful of fresh, seasonal berries.


(Serves 4)

4 good quality ripe pears (rocha or Williams are ideal)

3 slices of orange

1 cinnamon stick

2 cloves

1 sprig thyme

3 slices fresh ginger

250g sugar

1 bottle Rioja or good red wine

Peel and core the pears. To retain the shape and keep the stem intact, use a pointed vegetable peeler or small sharp knife to core them from the bottom to just above half way.

Carefully scoop out the seeds. Alternatively you can leave the core in the fruit if you prefer.

Place all the remaining ingredients into a large pan and slowly bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and carefully place the pears into the liquid before bringing back up to a simmer.

Once the liquid starts to bubble remove the pan from the heat completely and leave to cool for an hour.

Once cooled, cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least four hours.

Before serving, pass the liquid through a sieve to remove the herbs and spices. Place a pear in each bowl and liberally spoon the juice over the top. Serve simply on their own or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or mascarpone.