With autumn approaching, I start fantasizing about cooking with the fall bounty. The house begins to smell of cinnamon and spice and everthing nice! My first experiment for the fall 2010 season is being licked clean even as we speak.
So I took some Granny Smiths and Honey Crisps and gave it the savory treatment. I mean why should baked apples only be turned into desserts? So I made a rice and raisin filling, stuffed them apples and baked ‘em good!
There are a few steps before the apples are ready for the oven.
Make the rice, fry the raisin and croutons, mix them together and stuff the apples and bake.
For the rice.
1tsp light olive oil
1 tsp butter
¼ cup red onion and ¼ cup celery, both finely chopped
¼ cup Basmati rice
¼ cup apple cider
¼ cup water
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary [to be used throughout this recipe]
Pepper to taste.
For the butter kissed raisins
2 tsp butter
¼ cup raisins
And the croutons
1 tsp butter
¼ cup French bread, cubed into tiny pieces
2 apples [Honey Crrisp and/or Granny Smith]
Make the rice
Soak the rice for 15 minutes in warm water before cooking. This ensures long elegant grains. Meanwhile chop and dice onions and celery as finely as possible. Chop the Rosemary and set aside, this will be used to layer the flavor throughout the cooking.
In a small shallow pan melt the oil and butter and drop the chopped onions and celery and saute on a low flame for 5-7 minutes till the vegetables are soft. Drain the rice and shake of all the excess water and add to the celery and onion. Add about a teaspoon of chopped rosemary and toast the rice for a couple of minutes to coat every grain with the butter and oil.
Then add the salt, apple cider, water and apple cider vinegar and turn up the heat.
When you see the the rice grains hopping upto the surface like in the above picture [left upper section] reduce the heat to a very slow simmer and put a lid on the pan. If you have a glass lid it will be easy to see when the rice is done, usually in about 7 minutes for a quater cup of rice. If you can’t tell, lift the lid and when the water is dried out and the grains are puffed up, it is done.
Add some more chopped rosemary and fluff the rice and set aside to cool.
While the rice is being cooked you can get the raisins and croutons ready.
Preparing the raisins and croutons.
Melt 2 tsp of butter in a pan set over a very low flame. Add the raisins and move it constantly in the pan so the raisins don’t burn. When they swell and plump up remove from pan and set aside.[ Do not drain as we need all the buttery flavor to be intact]
In the same pan to any remaining butter add another teaspoon of butter and fry the croutons. When they are golden brown hit it with some salt, pepper and some chopped rosemary.
Prepare the apples.
As I am never able to finish a whole baked apple, I thought it would be good idea to cut it into two halves and stuff it. Prepare the apples like so and start the oven and set to 350 deg.
Cut off a small slice on the bottom for the apple to be stable in the baking dish. Rub the insides with some more chopped rosemary.
Now that we have all the parts, let’s put it all together.
Mix the rice, raisins and croutons when the rice cools down to room temp.
Pile each apple with the stuffing, the mixture fills 4 apple halves. Bake the apples in a foil covered dish at 350 for 30 -40 minutes. My apples took exactly 30 minutes. If the apples are in for too long they will collapse with the pressure from the steam within. It is a good idea to check under the hood after 30 minutes. Gently insert a fork into the apple to see if it goes through easily. If so, your baked apple is ready. Remove from the oven immediately and take off the foil. This is important as the apple can continue to cook and the skin can split.
Sending this creation to the ‘ Fall Fest’ cross blog event organized by Margaret Roach of ‘A way to garden’.