Let’s do lunch. No, better yet, let’s do brunch.
Whoever came up with brunch and made it ‘a thing’, was a genius.
It’s the perfect meal because it perfectly balances the much needed slow-start on a weekend morning with the rigors of being social. It forces you up and out of bed, but too early, and it’s a fairly finite commitment – your afternoon almost always asks other things of you – and if it doesn’t pour yourself another mimosa and get back to chatting. Going out for brunch is the epitome of weekend luxury, but it’s nearly as easy to do it at home – whether it’s just you, brunch for two, a family affair, or you have friends come by, it’s a low key way to entertain and since no one expects much of you before noon on the weekends, you can stay in your slippers and ease your way into the day.
The key to a successful brunch, in my opinion comes down to the same three things that make a dinner party work: the ambiance, the people and the food.
Ambiance, or mood, is easy: tidy up a bit, but the Queen isn’t coming, so don’t be stressed. Put on some upbeat but not distracting music – it’s a cliché but there’s a reason that jazz and brunch go so well together. If you don’t have any old 45s of Billie Holiday or Thelonius Monk hanging around, hit up your favourite online music site and stream something cool. Open the curtains, and make sure the house smells amazing by the time friends arrive.
That brings us to people: don’t over crowd. Brunch is a casual and intimate affair. You want to be able to relax and not fuss, which means that your brunch crowd is likely people that you know well. We’re talking people who have seen you in your pajamas, or who will not be completely confused to see you in bunny slippers, wooden spoon in hand.
Our last element, and arguably the most critical, is the food. My advice: focus on one dish and let it shine. You could try to do toast and eggs and sausage and bacon and fruit salad and muffins and, and, and …. Or you could just make waffles.
These Carrot Cake Waffles with Caramelized Pears definitely fit the bill. They are a cinch to make, heartwarming and indulgent and with buttery pears in caramel syrup, they are impressive without taking you much time or effort. Let them be the center of attention, though some bacon and strong coffee or milky tea alongside wouldn’t seem out of place. They really are the answer to a weekend morning this fall. Enjoy!
Carrot Cake Waffles
This recipe makes three 6″ waffles, but can easily be doubled if you are feeding a crowd.
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup milk
¼ cup brown sugar
1 cup (packed) grated carrot
Whisk together dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients and the brown sugar and stir in the carrot. Add the dry ingredients on top of the wet ingredients and fold gently to combine. Spoon the batter into a hot, prepared waffle iron and cook for 3-5 minutes until deeply golden brown. Serve warm with caramelized pears.
Enough soft, candied pears in syrup to serve generously with one batch of carrot cake waffles or your favourite waffle recipe.
2 firm pears
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter
1 Tbsp vanilla
Melt the butter in pan over medium heat. Add the sugar, stirring to melt it. Add the vanilla. Trim the bottom and stem end off the pear. Cut in in half and carefully cut out the core. Slice each half lengthwise into 8 slices. Add the pear to the caramel in the pan, swirling to coat it. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, until the pears are softened and the syrup is foaming, about 5 minutes. Serve hot over waffles (or pancakes, or ice cream ….)