Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Caramelized Apples with Almond Topping

Apples are in season now and I am proud to be living in Minnesota . Two of my favorite varieties were created at the University of Minnesota: the Honeycrisp and the Zestar. The zestar is an early season apple which ripens in late August, so last month I picked up some at the farmers' market and made the best apple pie to come out of my kitchen, EVER! It absolutely maintains its structure yet is sweet, crisp and soft, all at the same time. Needless to say, that pie didn't last more than forty eight hours; embarrassing, considering there are only two of us. I'm pretty sure I ate most of it. If only I could eat apple pie every day....Unfortunately I can 't - my metabolism just will not allow it, darn, boring metabolism - so I've opted for this simple recipe for caramelized apples to supplement my apple pie fix, until thanksgiving that is! This recipe has all of the flavors of an apple pie, is not as time consuming, and definitely not as heavy in calories. Apples cook very quickly on the stove top so it's an easy middle-of-the week dessert. Any variety of apple you happen to get your hands on works well here, even pears will be good. Coming to think of it, caramelized anything is delicious.

Caramelized Apples
Serves four

4 to 6 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup almond powder
fat free vanilla greek yogurt

1. Add half of the sugar and all of the butter to a large skillet over medium heat in an even layer.
2. Once the sugar begins to melt to a light brown color, add half of the spices followed by the apples. Stir constantly for four to five minutes until all of the apple slices acquire a rich brown color and they soften slightly. Remove from heat.
3. To make the almond topping, combine the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and almond powder. Sprinkle over apple slices and top with yogurt to serve.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Stuffed Eggplant

For the past month or so, eggplants are in abundance at the farmer's market's in the twin cities. They come in many different shapes, colors and sizes. And it follows that each variety works best in certain dishes. Most are some shade of purple but you can now find green and even white varieties. For roasting and making dips, I prefer the larger Italian and purple bell varieties. And for stuffing, I find that the small, dark purple, egg-shaped Indian variety, also known as baby eggplant, works best. Because of their size, they cook faster and throughly without being over done and make serving more manageable.

The stuffing in this recipe is essentially mashed cumin potatoes from the post Cumin (Geera) Potatoes. However, since potatoes take on the flavor of whatever is added to it so well, you can probably substitute garlic or sun-dried tomatoes for the scallions here.

Stuffed Baby Eggplant
Serves 4 to 5

8 to 10 baby eggplant
1 1/2 to 2 lbs potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground chili peppers (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped scallions

1. Using a damp paper towel, wipe the eggplants clean. Place one eggplant on a cutting board and cut horizontally down the middle stopping half inch before the stem. Rotate the eggplant ninety degrees and make another horizontal cut down the middle. What you have now is a criss-cross cut down the eggplant, separating it into four segments connected at the base. Repeat this step for the remaining eggplants. Lightly brush the insides of each with olive oil. Set aside until ready to stuff.
2. Boil the potatoes in enough water to cover them, until fork tender. Drain and mash until smooth. Set aside
3. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute or two until light golden. Add the cumin and cook for additional two minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Add the mashed potatoes, stirring well to combine the seasonings. Turn off the heat and stir in the chopped scallions.
4. Fill each eggplant with two tablespoons of the potato mixture, cleaning up any that sticks on the outside.
5. Return the skillet or another large pot to medium high heat, add three tablespoon of olive oil to the bottom, and place the eggplant in single layer. If they can't fit in a single layer, do two batches. Cook on each side for three minutes.