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Pears in Spicy Red Wine

Just a few days now before Christmas and I am looking to make a simple seasonal dessert that will not take too much time to prepare.
It will give me the opportunity to open a bottle of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which was sitting in the wine rack.

Depending on the appetite of your guests, plan either a large pear per person or two medium-sized pears.
Choose them not too ripe to avoid them becoming puréed during the cooking.

Large Comice pears, rinsed and peeled
500ml strong red wine
Juice of 2 lemons
200g caster sugar
10 cloves
Vanilla ice-cream.

1. Pour the wine in a large saucepan and add the sugar and the lemon juice.
2. Rub each pear with a half lemon to prevent discolouration.
3. Place the pears in the saucepan and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
4. Take them out of the wine and cut delicately in a fan shape, making sure that you retain the stalk.
5. Drizzle the wine on top and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

You can serve the remainder of the wine as mulled wine.

This dessert can be prepared in advance and kept in the freezer.

Bon Appétit!

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Pumpkin Gratin

Making use of seasonal vegetables and finding just the ones you are looking for at the market is always a pleasure.
Halloween is over now but pumpkins are still available. The sliced ones are better but if you do not wish to cut the hard skin and chop the flesh, you can find pre-packed, sliced pumpkin or butternut squash easily in supermarkets.

As an accompaniment to a roast, this gratin works well.
If you prefer a fat-free dish, replace the cream with skimmed milk and use toasted breadcrumbs instead of Parmesan.
It should please anyone who is a vegetarian.

Alternatively, by adding a little more milk/cream, this can become a delicious pumpkin soup to warm you up on any cold day.
Adding some unsweetened chestnut purée will give it a very distinctive flavour.

Serves 4:

1 big slice of pumpkin, de-seeded and with the skin removed
1 big carrot, peeled and sliced
1 big onion, peeled and sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
100ml of single cream
A handful of coriander leaves, rinsed
2 tablespoons of grated parmesan
Salt and pepper to season

1. Place all the vegetables and the coriander in a pressure cooker and cook for 5 minutes.

2. Whizz in a liquidizer and add the cream and the Parmesan.

3. Pour the mixture in an oven proof dish and cook for 10 minutes at 200C.

4. Serve immediately.

Bon Appétit!