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Pears in red wine
This is one of the recipes that I have received from Pat Churchill in New Zealand. You can find out more about Pat and her family at her own website. I think Pat and her husband are kindred spirits with me in that we have all over the years relied on (as Pat calls it) Dining In - with children often a necessity! See below what Pat had to say when she sent the recipes.


3 or 4 firm pears
1 cup red wine
1 stick cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
2 cloves
1/2 cup brown sugar


Peel, quarter and core the pears and place them in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients, adding a little water to just cover the pears if necessary. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Remove the whole spices and transfer the pears and juice to a serving bowl. Set aside for several hours – overnight if possible.

These pears are particularly good served with a coffee-flavoured ice cream.

Serves 2

Pat Churchill

From Pat Churchill:

Churchill family - Christmas 1998For 20 years The Spouse and I shared our dinner table with one, then two sons. During many of their formative years I was writing a weekly food column for a Sunday paper in New Zealand. The column was called Dining In and featured many of the meals consumed in the Churchill house over several years, garnished with stories about family life. The sons, Ben and James, were quite good natured about the public exposure of their private lives. I doubt if they ever read the column, which was probably a help.

The column chronicled their school activities, their sporting successes, their various exploits, their birthday parties. There was the time I made a mega batch of chocolate truffles for Christmas and hid them in the freezer. One day the boys had been particularly good, so as I treat I said they could have a couple of truffles each. They were hugely and uncharacteristically reticent. I soon discovered why. The cache had dwindled by about 75 percent. I decided as they’d enjoyed them so much, they might as well finish the lot. They were looking decidedly jaundiced by the time the last one had been consumed. Next day they helped me make another batch. It remained untouched until Christmas!

The birthday parties were fun. One year I found a recipe on the Internet for Dirt Cake – a sort of chlorate pudding affair served in a flower pot, interspersed with jelly "worms" and topped with artificial flowers. Then there was the year when good old Dad managed to drop a lit match on a paper napkin, causing a minor conflagration and major panic. That same year one three year old kid fell in the toilet and ended up all wet and with a black eye.

These days, with Ben doing his big OE in England, and James head deep in the chemistry books at Otago University, things are quiet around the dinner table and in the house in general. No more drum & base reverberating from one stereo and Metallica from another. These days it’s cooking for two. Here’s some of our recent fare.

Oysters in the Shell

Steamed Oriental Salmon

Pears in red wine