Whole poached pears make an elegant dinner party dessert, with a red wine sauce and fragrant cinnamon and vanilla
- 750ml bottle Merlot or other red wine
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks, snapped in half
- 1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways then halved across to make 4 strips
- 4 firm pears, peeled
MethodAdd the pears, making sure they are fully covered by the wine, then simmer for 30 mins until they are just tender. If the pears are very ripe, they may be ready in 20 mins. Can be made up to 2 days ahead – leave the pears in the syrup in the fridge until you’re ready to finish the recipe.
- 3½ kg whole salmon (ask your fishmonger to clean and gut it)
- olive oil, for greasing
- 1 small onion, very thinly sliced
- 4 bay leaves
- 20g pack dill
- 6 tbsp dry white wine
- 3 ripe avocados, preferably Hass
- 200ml mayonnaise
- zest and juice 1 large lemon
- ½ cucumber, peeled, deseeded and diced
- bunch watercress, lemon wedges, thick cucumber slices, fresh dill (optional)
- Heat oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2. Put the salmon on a large sheet of oiled extra-wide foil (this will stop it from sticking later). Put the onion, bay leaves and half the dill in the body cavity, spoon over the wine, season with salt and black pepper, then loosely bring the foil round the salmon and seal well to make a parcel. Lift onto a baking tray, then bake for 2 hrs. Take from the oven, then leave to cool for about 10 mins, still in its parcel.
- Meanwhile, whizz the flesh from the avocados (with a hand blender or in a food processor) with the mayo, lemon juice, zest and seasoning. Tip into a bowl. Chop the remaining dill, stir in with the cucumber, then transfer to a serving bowl. Chill for up to 3 hrs.
- Unwrap the salmon, then strip away the skin and fins. Personally, I don’t take the skin from the bottom of the fish if I am serving the salmon warm, as you risk breaking the fish up as you turn it over. It is more robust when it is cold, so in this case remove the skin from both sides. You can leave the head on or take off at this stage. Carefully lift onto a platter, then garnish with watercress, cucumber, lemon wedges and dill, if using.
- To serve, remove the fish in chunky fillets. When all the fish has gone from the top fillet, remove the onion and herb flavouring, pull away the bones, then remove portions of the bottom fillet, leaving the skin behind. Eat with the avocado mayo, warm buttery new potatoes, and salads or green beans.
- 200g pudding rice
- zest 1 lemon
- zest 1 orange
- 1l whole milk
- 100g caster sugar
- 85g raisins or sultanas
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 100g light brown muscovado sugar
- 3 tbsp double cream
- Put the rice in a large pan with 500ml water and the lemon and orange zest. Bring to the boil, cover, lower the heat, then cook for about 15 mins until all the water has been absorbed. Uncover, stir in the milk and sugar, then simmer for 20-25 mins, stirring often, until the rice is tender and sauce thickened. Cool, then leave at room temperature.
- Put the raisins into a small pan with the cinnamon, muscovado and 100ml water. Gently heat until the sugar has melted, then bubble for a min until syrupy. Stir in the cream, then cool in the pan.
- Dish up at the last minute - stir a little milk through the rice mixture if it has become 'solid' after sitting for a while. To serve, divide the rice pudding between 8 glasses or small bowls and top with a spoonful of the syrupy raisins.
- 300ml dry white wine
- 1 small fennel, sliced or 2 sticks celery, sliced
- 1 large carrot, cut in sticks
- 2 sprigs each thyme, rosemary and tarragon
- 2 large bay leaves
- about 100g/4oz smoked bacon pieces or rinds
- ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp bouillon powder or 2 stock cubes
- 1 whole chicken, about 2kg/4lb 8 oz
- 1 onion, quartered
- 2 egg yolks
- 142ml pot double cream
- handful fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1 tsp cornflour
- juice of 1 lemon
- Put the wine, vegetables, herb sprigs, bay leaves, bacon, peppercorns and stock powder or cubes in a large pan. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins.
- Remove any excess fat from the chicken and push it into the liquor.
- Return the liquor to the boil, then turn heat down. Cover and cook for 11⁄4 hrs until chicken legs feel tender when pierced. Remove from heat, stand for 15 mins, then lift onto a plate. Strain the liquor into a bowl and pour 500ml into a pan. Boil to reduce by half.
- Pull and cut the bird into neat portions, discarding skin, wing tips and backbone. Put on a plate and cover.
- Beat together the yolks, cream and tarragon in a jug. Ladle in a quarter of the liquor, mix, then pour back into the stock and turn the heat down. Mix the cornflour with a little water and add. With a wooden spoon, stir for 3-5 mins until it begins to thicken.6 Remove from the heat, then stir in lemon juice to taste. Pour some sauce over the chicken and put the rest in a jug. Serve with boiled long grain rice.