(6-inch) vanilla bean split lengthwise (optional)
tablespoon black peppercorns
(3-inch) cinnamon stick
(750-milliliter) bottle dry red wine
cup (1 ounce) crumbled blue cheese
Peel and core pears. Cut each pear in half lengthwise; set aside. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean, and place seeds and bean in a large non-aluminum skillet. Add sugar, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and wine to skillet, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Arrange pears, cut sides down, in a single layer in skillet; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Turn pears over; cover and simmer an additional 10 minutes or until pears are tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon. Place in a large shallow dish, and set aside. Bring wine mixture to a boil; cook 20 minutes or until reduced to 3/4 cup. Strain wine mixture through a sieve into the dish of pears; discard spices. Cover and chill 8 hours, turning pears occasionally. Remove pears with a slotted spoon, reserving wine mixture. Arrange 2 pears halves in each of 4 dessert compotes. Drizzle 3 tablespoons wine mixture over each serving, and top pears with 1 tablespoon crumbled cheese.