The season of eating has descended. For us, it started on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, which is when we held our big family celebration. We had a dinner filled with many of the usual dishes: roast turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, and cranberry sauce. After several days of using the leftovers in various creative ways, we knew we would not be in the mood for more turkey on the actual holiday.
With only two of our four children with us for Thanksgiving Day, we decided to try something different and created our own Iron Chef competition. The details were simple: each person would choose the meal he/she would be cooking(out of a hat) and would need to use the secret ingredient for all the meals, which was apple. In order to have a kitchen that was stocked appropriately for each chef, we chose our meals a day advance.
The rules were also simple. Create the designated meal, using apple in as many forms as desired. Four servings would need to be created within an hour of cooking time. The three judges would critique each meal on its taste, creativity, and plating. At the end of the day, all votes would be tallied, and a winner would be chosen.
With four delicious meals (breakfast, appetizers, dinner, and dessert), it was an enjoyable way to spend the holiday. Every meal was appealing to the senses, and all of the chefs seemed to enjoy the planning, preparing, and presenting of meals. I think that this could become an event that occurs on different holidays throughout the year.
My meal was the appetizer/lunch course. To keep the eating light, I decided to turn my apples into a trio of tapas dishes: Baked Brie with Apple Chutney, Apple & Cream Cheese Ravioli, and Apple Skins. Each one of these munchies was preferred by one of the judges, which seemed to reflect their individual taste preferences.
1/4 cup pecans*
3 apples, cored and quartered
1/2 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
Preheat oven to 400. Place pecans on a cookie sheet, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Chop finely.
Turn oven to broil. Place apples, skin side down, on the same cookie sheet (once cooled). Sprinkle each apple with cheddar cheese. Place pan about 3 inches from heat, and broil for 1 or 2 minutes, just until cheese is melted. Top each apple with chopped pecans.
*I used pecans to add crunch. If desired, cooked bacon could be used in place of the pecans.