So on Christmas day my immediate family came over to my pint-sized apartment for some gift opening, Peter Paul and Mary music, cheap champagne and a little holiday breakfast.
On the menu: Blueberry ricotta pancakes with Vermont maple syrup, Kolaches from Czech bakery in West, Texas and a winter fruit salad I politely borrowed from SmittenKitchen.
This preparation for this fruit salad is relatively easy, but it definitely has to be done in advance. I made the syrup on day one, soaked the fruit on day two and feasted on the third day.
Winter Fruit Salad (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
3/4 cup sugar
1 Red Chai Tea bag (I use The Republic of Tea Red Chai)
1/2 of plump vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
8 dried Turkish apricots, cut in half
4 dried figs, quartered
Zest from one lemon
Juice of the zest lemon
3 firm pears (sent to me in a Harry & David box from a client – hurray!)
1 firm tart apple
Seeds from half a pomegranate
Fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups water. Add the sugar, vanilla bean and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, and cook until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the Chai tea bag and then stir in the dried figs and apricots. Cool overnight in refrigerator. (this step makes your home smell cozy and wintery and heavenly)
Peel pears and apple (SK recommends coring, but I think it’s easier just to slice it up). Slice thinly lengthwise and place in a large bowl, and toss with the lemon juice. Pour the syrup from Day One over the apples and pears. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill it overnight in the refrigerator.
Use a slotted spoon and ladle the fruit into a serving bowl, sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, remove the vanilla pods and serve.
Overall, it’s a really great recipe. If I made it again I might only let the fruit soak in the syrup for a few hours vs. overnight. I just happen to prefer uber crisp pears and apples, and the overnight soaking diminished some of that crispness.