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As the weather in NYC turns from cool and crisp to cold and unforgiving, we all have a tendency to hibernate a bit. But it's still so important to me to gather with friends around the table, even if everyone has to put on their snow boots to make it over.
Brunch is my very favorite meal to host—the vibe is relaxed and casual as everyone slowly wakes up together over warm cups of coffee and a simple, comforting meal, and the food doesn’t have to be complicated or fussy for people to enjoy themselves. Morning is also my favorite time to be in the kitchen, especially around the holidays. I find the quiet calm of a new day to be so peaceful, and I love getting my day started by filling my home with the sweet and spicy smells of holiday baking.
The market starts to get a bit sparse this time of year, but there is a lot that can be done with apples, cranberries, and pears. Apples get a lot of love, but pears hold up extremely well to cooking and have wonderfully nuanced flavors when they are in season. A simple way to dress them up for company is to roast them until soft and caramelized at the edges.
This recipe adds an apple cider marinade into the mix, made with warm, aromatic cardamom and vanilla, for a super special, but easy to pull together, treat. (The marinade has just enough natural sugar, so you need very little additional sweetener.) They are perfect on their own or with a bit of yogurt and granola, and will keep for about a week in the fridge. Just don't forget to warm them up a bit before serving for maximum enjoyment!
- 1 pound small pears (about 6), seckle or fiorelle are perfect for this
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup pear or apple cider
- 1 to 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Seeds from one vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 pinch salt