Whatever happened to afternoon tea?

That genteel time where you sat down with a steaming mug, moved away from your computer and had a chat or a flick through the paper?

Like my good tights, the second button on my coat and a smug ability to say I’d never been sick from alcohol, I  lost it somewhere along the way.

When you’re working on your own, there’s no one to stand up and ask ‘cup of tea?’ and talk  about shark attacks or an interminable meeting with, on the way to the automatic hot water tap.

These days I’m just as likely to be eating lunch  at 3.45pm as I am to be hankering for a piece of cake and some down time.

Yet with the help of my kitchen company; four greenish pears, I brought it back.

The pears were originally destined for a night time dessert. I was partly inspired by Champagne Duchess and her Christmas pears in red wine. Except I’ve been indulging just a little too much in spiced red of late, so I needed a virgin alternative. Soon these four fat bellies found themselves in a pot with some water, brown sugar and a cinnamon stick.

They had a puddle and a potter around.  They got to know each other well over a couple of hours. And then our plans changed and we went out to dinner instead.

Dinner was lovely. But the next day there were poached pears that were just sitting there, with a light tan  and a gentle sideline in sugar and spice.

So I took a break and pondered what to do with them.

They came out to play with a piece of  pain d’épices; that dense gingerbread twinged french loaf cake ( it came back in my carry on from Brussels with me). There was dollop of good yogurt. Beside it sat a squat pear and a dusting of grated nutmeg. Added to that was mug of tea and a little bit of time out with a magazine of truly questionable quality.

It was a truly civilized afternoon tea.  As I put the plate in the dishwasher I realised what I’d been missing.

I went back to work 15 minutes later revitalised and refreshed; knowing far more about the history of royal tiaras than I did before hand.

I also  had a new combination up my sleeve. Brown sugar bronzed pears, gingerbread and dairy.

In fact it was such a great combination that The Hungry One had it for dessert that night. And since then,  I’ve had it for breakfast twice.

Somethings are just far too good to wait until the afternoon.

Brown sugar poached pears

Shopping/ foraging

4 firm pears
1 cinnamon quill
300 ml of water
60 grams of brown sugar


Equipment


1 saucepan or pot.

Here’s how we roll

1. Peel the pears but keep the stems.

2. Dissolve the brown sugar in the water and bring it to the boil with the cinnamon quill bobbing about.

3. Put the pears in the syrup and cook over a low heat for 40 minutes, turning them occasionally so each
side gets coated in the syrup. Leave them to stand in the syrup until you use them.


4. Serve for breakfast with yogurt and muesli or french toast. Serve for afternoon tea with a piece of gingerbread cake. Serve for dessert with good vanilla ice cream and reduce the syrup further.

Or just eat straight out of the pan while the sticky amber juice runs down your chin. Totally your call.