• 4 ripe but firm pears
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste
• 1 fresh red jalapeno pepper, cut in half and seeded
• 2 whole star anise
• 1 cinnamon stick, bruised
• 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised
• 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
• 2 whole cloves
• 4 bay leaves
• 1 1/4 cups water
1. Peel pears leaving stems intact. Cut a thin slice from bottom of each pear allowing pears to stand. Place in a large bowl and add the lemon juice with enough water to cover the pears.
2. Combine honey and next 7 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the honey dissolves.
3. Drain pears; add to honey mixture. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pears are tender.
4. Remove from the heat; cool pears in syrup. When cool, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving syrup; place in a serving dish.
5. Return the syrup to the heat and bring to a boil. Boil 5 to 8 minutes, or until the syrup is reduced by half and thickened. Cool 5 to 10 minutes; Remove bay leaves and pour syrup over pears. Serve warm.
Gina Mohammed, Ph.D., is a plant physiologist who researches medicinal and other specialty uses of plants. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or write to 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 for a detailed reference list.
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