Thursday, September 11, 2008

Apples, galore. This time with fire.

Following our ode to the apple in a recent Your Table, here's a ditty from the CIA (the fun CIA, not the spooky one) on how to enjoy these fruits of fall:

Apple season is upon us, and the chefs of The Culinary Institute of America suggest that you take advantage of this opportunity to select a variety of apples.

Such a versatile ingredient as the apple can be prepared in numerous ways; whether baked, grilled, or roasted, each particular variety has characteristics that make it unique. With apples in such abundance, now is an excellent time to take them home and experiment to determine which apple variety is your favorite.

"In New York's Hudson Valley we have no shortage of apple varieties. Early September apples such as Paula or Ida Red, cousins of the McIntosh, will work well for this recipe if they are not over-baked," explains Carol Hawran of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. "Rome Beauty, Empire, or Golden Delicious apples are always reliable standbys as they have enough body to hold their shape well."

Baked apples are ideal for a warm day and can be made right on your grill. Put them on just as you take off your dinner, and by the time you've eaten and brewed coffee, the apples are ready to eat.

Apple Crisp, with a sweet crumbly topping made with oats, will warm up any cool evening. Top it with a wedge of cheddar cheese or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream for a dessert that is sure to please.

These and other recipes can be found in The Culinary Institute of America's cookbook, Grilling (2006, Lebhar-Friedman), available for purchase at bookstores nationwide.

Here's a video demonstration featuring how to prepare Baked Apples filled with Walnuts and Cream.

Baked Apples filled with Walnuts and Cream
Makes 8 servings
2 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons softened butter
8 prunes, pitted and diced small
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
8 McIntosh apples, cored
2 tablespoons Calvados
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat a gas grill to medium. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.

Combine the walnuts, brown sugar, butter, prunes, and lemon zest, and mix until evenly blended. Pack the mixture into the cored apples.

Cut 8 large rectangles of foil and fold each in half to make squares. Set 1 filled apple in the center of each square. Drizzle each apple with some of the Calvados (less than 1 teaspoon per apple) and a little of the maple syrup (less than 1 teaspoon per apple). Pull up the sides of the foil around the apple to make a vented pouch.

Grill the apples over direct heat until soft and the juices that collect in the bottom of the pouch are a rich brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. Turn the pouches occasionally as the apples cook.
Whip the heavy cream just until lightly thickened and still somewhat runny. Whisk in the remaining maple syrup.

To serve, place a baked apple on each serving dish. Pour the accumulated juices from the foil pouches over the grilled apples, and then spoon some of the whipped cream over them.
Serve immediately.

Nutrition analysis per 7.5-ounce serving: 270 calories, 1g protein, 46g carbohydrate, 10g fat, 30mg sodium, 30mg cholesterol, 6g fiber.