4 firm but ripe pears
1 vanilla bean
3 x 330 ml bottles good quality ginger beer
1/3 cup sugar
zest 1 lemon
150 grams mascarpone or crème fraîche
¼ cup finely sliced crystallised ginger
Pears: Peel the pears leaving the stem intact. Halve the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife.
Place the vanilla bean and seeds, ginger beer, sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan that will just hold the pears snugly. Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears. Cover with a circle of baking paper and put a small plate on top. This keeps the pears submerged in the liquid. Poach very gently for 30-40 minutes until tender but not falling apart, turning the pears once during cooking. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a bowl, cool then cover and refrigerate.
Place the syrup back over the heat and boil for 20 minutes or until reduced to about 1 cup of syrup. Cool and refrigerate.
To serve: Stir a little ginger syrup into the mascarpone. Put a small spoonful in the centre of each serving plate and place a pear on top. Spoon the remaining cream alongside the pears and top with the sliced ginger. Drizzle over the syrup and garnish with a piece of vanilla bean and lemon zest.
Menu: Serve this with Lemongrass and Seafood Soup to start, and Chicken with Zucchini, Basil, Pine Nuts and Tomato Jam as main.