I love this time of year - with all the fabulous Autumnal fruit and veg, you are spoilt for choice. In this week's Riverford delivery were 8 perfect baby Williams pears, just crying out to be peeled and poached, so how could I resist? I use Alice Waters' recipe from the Chez Panisse Fruit book - a source of constant inspiration and reliable classics. Prepare the poaching base which is an entire bottle of good red wine - nothing vintage but it must be drinkable - with the pared zest and juice of a lemon and a cinnamon stick, with a cup of caster sugar. Bring to a simmer in a non-reactive pot (i.e. not aluminium or copper), whilst you wash and peel your pears, keeping the stalk on if you can. Using the tip of your paring knife, dig out a little of the core on the bottom. Immerse the pears in the simmering wine, cover and simmer for 20-30 minutes until the pears are tender - this will depend on the size and ripeness of your pears so keep testing after 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the pears to cool in the liquid. An hour later, they will be buttery-tender and the most amazing colour. Carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and put in a bowl. Now, return the poaching liquor to a high heat and boil and reduce to about a cup/250ml, until thick and syrupy. Your house will smell amazing! Resist the temptation to drink this straight away and spoon carefully over the pears, leaving them glossy and glorious. When cool, cover and refrigerate and serve just as they are or with creme fraiche, whipped cream, ice cream, Greek yoghurt, or - in our case - with some chilled creamy vanilla egg custard and sprinkled with toasted slivered almonds.