Chamomile tea infused pears, poached cranberries and pumpkin polenta
( SERVES 4 )
I know that pumpkin-flavoured polenta sounds strange, but then so do pumpkin pie and tapioca pudding, and the taste and texture are similar. Try it, for it is gorgeous. I call this dish a "hazy shade of winter" because of its rich autumn colours.
- First, make the sugar syrup. In a saucepan, boil the sugar and water together for 2 minutes, then divide equally between 2 small saucepans.
- Immediately place the chamomile tea and lemon peel in 1 saucepan and the vanilla pod in the other.
- Fill a small bowl with cold water and add the lemon juice.
- Peel the pears, then cut in half, remove the stem and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon or melon baller.
- To prevent browning, plunge the halves into the bowl of water as you go.
- Cut each half into 8 segments, then add to the chamomile-infused syrup.
- Cook for 4 minutes over a low heat, then set aside to cool. Wash the cranberries, then add to the vanilla syrup and cook gently for 4 minutes.
- Watch the cranberries closely, as they have a tendency to turn to mush quite quickly. Again, let the cranberries cool in the syrup.
- Place the pumpkin juice, milk and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Immediately whisk in the polenta and slowly bring to a gentle simmer. Stir occasionally, making sure the polenta doesn't catch on the bottom of the saucepan.
- Cover with a lid and cook for an hour. Stir in a pinch of nutmeg, then place a spoonful of polenta in each of 4 individual bowls.
- Drain the pears and cranberries, reserving the syrups for future use, and arrange on the polenta. Serve immediately.