The Confident Cook by Lauraine Jacobs

I was missing my friend Jared tonight – he’s been gone over 24 hours now…but fortunately he left behind some books including The Confident Cook, which I assume is a book well-travelled, in Geneva now, but New Zealand in origin. In this it reflects the author, who has done an incredible amount of travel in her life in her dedicated search for all she could find out about food from a cooking point of view.

The result is a book that reminds me of Australian Belinda Jeffrey’s style and attitude. Practical, tending towards healthy, but with no compromise on great taste. Naturally that comment doesn’t apply to dessert, but even then, one can find this dish, which I haven’t made yet but I’m anxious to try. It has no sugar, but that isn’t going to stop it being a sophisticated dessert option which one could serve up any time.

She introduces it thus:

This is another recipe for poached pears. My friend and guide on a trip to Santorini, Rosie Barron, shared the idea of combining savoury and sweet flavours to complement pears, and was the inspiration for this dish. The perfect way to end a meal, it should be served with thick Greek yoghurt, drizzled with extra honey.


6 firm, ripe pears
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup mild liquid honey (blue borage or clover)
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs thyme
1 cinnamon stick
6 cups water
thick Greek-style yoghurt, to serve
½ cup shelled fresh walnuts, chopped, to serve

Peel the pears, leaving the stalks attached, and set aside. Combine the vinegar, honey, bay leaf, thyme, cinnamon stick and water in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add the pears and very gently poach until the flesh is almost translucent (about 20 minutes).

Place the pears in a serving bowl and reduce the liquid over a fast heat until it becomes quite syrupy. This should take about 30 minutes. Pour the syrup over the pears and allow to cool.

To serve, place a pear on each plate with a little of the syrup. Spoon some yoghurt beside each pear, drizzle extra honey over and garnish with chopped walnuts.  (From The Confident Cook, recipe available online here.)


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