Aromatic Roasted Pears and Plums with Star Anise, Vanilla, Balsamic and Maple Syrup E.A.T #34

Hey there December…..Welcome. Time for cozy cooking.

A  shallow baking pan, a sheet of parchment, Pears and Plums pitted, whole vanilla beans and star anise,  maple syrup and balsamic reduction…that’s it…you’re done. Is it a dessert? Is it a savory side? It can easily be either one. Your choice.

I split and used the vanilla bean seeds earlier for making a custard, but I always save the split beans for other uses.  There are a few teeny seeds still inside and they added just the right hint of vanilla to the roasted fruit. Real maple syrup and a balsamic reduction drizzled over the fruit making sure to fill the pitted part.  Is there anything like the aroma of star anise when roasted? It’s all a rather special blend of ingredients that leave the roasted pears and plums a bit caramelized and very aromatic.  This can be a desirable fruit dessert topped with a scoop of ice cream or gelato, or eaten as a side with roast pork or turkey. Add this to your winter go-to easy everyday recipes. It’s as easy-as-this.

Aromatic Plums and Pears


  • 4 plums, cut in half & pitted
  • 4 pears, cut in half and pitted
  • 1 to 3 split vanilla beans
  • 6 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup balsamic reduction glaze
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spread fruit out on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  3. Drizzle fruit with balsamic glaze and maple syrup. Scatter vanilla beans and star anise over fruit. Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until fruit is just fork tender, not mushy. Bake time may vary.
  4. Serve in fruit in bowls topped with a scoop of ice cream or as a side dish with roasted chicken or pork. Also great as a holiday side with a roasted turkey.

Note: You can also do this with crisp apples or peaches.

Teresa Blackburn Food Styling.

“Drinkable Food” for the Holidays

“Drinkable Food”…beautiful beet juice cocktail with pear & star anise garnish….

In a few days it will be December….D-e-c-e-m-b-e-r!  November went by in a flash. I remember returning from a trip to Mexico…lots of food styling shoots…and the last Third Thursday Dinner Party of the year…and…oh, yeah…Thanksgiving. If anything could send you running to the home bar I believe November would be it. The need for a very deep red, but somewhat wholesome cocktail comes to my mind this time of year. A cocktail that will give you vitamins & minerals while creating a sense of well-being & unreality!  Basically a perfect cocktail to fortify one for what is to come between now and the New Year. A cocktail perfect for a party small or large.

“Drinkable Food” recipe for Good Health & Mental Fortification for the Holidays  (makes 2 quarts)

1. Make a simple syrup using 1 1/2 cup water, 5 or 6 whole star anise & 1 cup dark brown sugar. Bring water & sugar to a low boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Toss in star anise and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes until mixture is syrupy. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool completely.

Strain mixture to remove star anise. Put in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and chill until ready to use.

2. Peel 3 medium size fresh beets. Chop into large chunks. Puree using a food processor. You will probably have to work in batches.

3. Strain pureed beets over a bowl, pressing pulp with a wooden spoon to release most of the juice. Don’t toss out that beet pulp! Fresh beet pulp is great in breads & cakes. See Nigel Slater’s Book “Tender” or wait for my next blog to see how to make a killer chocolate cake using beet pulp. Freeze the pulp.

As with most of my cocktail recipes this one is not an exact science project, but more a mix & taste project until I hit the “sweet spot”. Is there any color of red more delicious than fresh beet juice? I think not.

4. I had about 3 cups of beet juice when all my beets were pureed & pressed. To this juice I added 1 cup of the Star Anise & Moscovado Sugar Simple Syrup…

…..1.5 liter pure apple juice…..

….and 1.5 cups Bulleit Rye Whiskey.

Bulleit Rye Whiskey

Taste & adjust to your liking. Decant into glass jars with tight-fitting lids. Chill until ready to drink.

Add a label…or not. Great over ice with a star anise & slice of pear to garnish. Get ready, get fortified!

It’s almost December….get your red on!