I got sick on the very day the fall equinox arrived. I was so bummed, as I was anticipating the new season and eager to welcome the refreshing changes. I spent the day sniffling, coughing, sneezing and fighting a hard crawl under my bed. I did muster enough energy to enjoy a lovely Thai dinner with some friends. But, the thought of continuing to eat summer food (a ridiculously seductive pineapple rice) put me on a mental mission to feel better in order to hit the farmers’ market the next morning. I had been a week earlier and was teased with luscious pre-fall harvest pickings by some of DC’s active providers. Most of the offerings were year-round staples but the apples made a huge appearance and were calling my name. I must have seen about 14 different varieties, all begging to be bitten. Timing could not have been more perfect since I had an apple challenge pending in my kitchen for the September 5 Star Makeover roundup.
Sure enough; I got better, called my SIL and asked her to ride down the street with me. I felt there was going to be a need for extra hands. And just like I figured in my head (probably wishful thinking) a jovial and ultra flirty older man, arguing that he loved a brown girl with curly hair, extended 5 pounds of of a lovely and colorful mixture of apples for $2, including some JonaGold, Jonathan, Honeycrisp and Rome. My SIL ran off with 2 pounds of pears from the same vendor. All I had to do was figure out what I was going to do with all of those apples. I particularly love the Jonagold and was curious to see what I’d come up with.
(Rome apples; almonds in sugar)
You know how things go in my life…I procrastinate until the very last minute and then freak out. I decided to stare at the apples for 4 days before I found inspiration to get creative. Too bad the inspiration, driven by sheer pressure, wasn’t until last Wednesday, a day before my trip to Vegas. I had every intention of working on a super fancy dish with the apples, but the limited time, all I could to make was this delicious stuffed manzana.
Perhaps not the fanciest but definitely a stunning combination of sweet and savory, making it a perfect appetizer or robust dessert. The cocktail of ingredients happened with no planning. I saw what I had available and what I could devour at the moment. Not to mention something that could be executed in less than 30 minutes. Though I had 4 different kinds of apples to work with, I went with the Jonagolds’s since they are a bit more on the tart side and the idea I had in mind would add great contrast.
After one attempt of playing with the cored apple pieces and smoked turkey, which is usually thrown into a simple yellow rice, I was pleased with the juxtaposition. The apples were still bit on the tart side, even after their first round of baking, which balanced just right with the saltiness of the sausage and sweet decadence of the almond caramel sauce. I’m convinced what helped make the apple and turkey mixture a really soft and decant one was the smooth pumpkin butter I bought at Dean & DeLuca last winter. Have you had it?? That stuff there is luscious, creamy and soft enough to make the mixture saturated in fact. It added the right amount of flavor while softening up the mix. I also added some dried tarragon.
The apple dish really wouldnt have been as spectacular but not for the warm stream of oozing caramel that could drench the bottom of the plate. It was nothing less than sexy. And seductive.
The caramel sauce didn’t happen with much planning either; it just did. I grabbed a stash of whole almonds, split them in half and mixed them with the sugar. Had I let it cook a bit longer, it would have turned into more of a hard toffee crust, which would have been just as sexy.
It served its purpose. I made the perfect amount to pour over all 3 apples. Oh, one bit of crucial information: I added a real good labled rum. A latin rum. Noow mind you, I don’t take exclusive rums to to cook with. Those are reserved of special occasions where the only thing you do is sip and savor. At $100 a bottle, you may want to have it on lock in the bar. There wasn’t a single reason why I couldn’t jut try it in here. I added enough to get a whiff, but the taste will still a bit on the weak-side so I went all in the 2nd time. Perfection.
Can you taste how all of those flavors, aromas and textures will put you in a fall coma, waking you up with an insatiable desire to bake some more. With a smaller apple type, these make for a great passed canapes. Or for a more tea time style afternoon. No matter the time of day, they won’t dissapoint!
I’m glad I was albe to pull this together and share with with rest of the creative crew. Check them out here. The round up is cozy and inviting of the new temporada!
Smoked Turkey Sausage & Almond Caramel With Rum Stuffed Apple
- 4 Jonagold apples, cored
- Reserves from cored apples
- 2 smoked turkey sauges, peeled
- 2 tbls. pumpkin butter
- 2 tbls. canola oil
- 2 tsps. dried tarragon
- 1 tsp. brown baking sugar
For caramel sauce
- 1/2 cup Zacapa Rum
- 3/4 cups sliced almonds
- 3/4 cup sugar
Rub butter all around apples. Place on baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes on 350F. While apples are baking, make apple and turkey mixture. Using a non-stick skillet, heat oil. Add turkey and slightly brown. Add apples and tarragon. Stir. Add pumpkin butter and stir again. Let cook for 5-7 minutes on medium heat until apples are tender. Remove apples from oven and set aside. Fill each apple with enough mixture to top about 1" above opening. Divide brown baking sugar and top among apples. Place apples back in oven and bake for 15 minutes on 400F or until baking sure has melted. Make sure not to allow apples to start splitting.
While apples are in second round of baking, make almond caramel. In small non-stick skillet, add sugar and rum. Bring to light boil and allow sugar to begin dissolving, stirring constantly. Add almonds and continue to stir until sugar has caramelized, about 7 minutes. Remove apples from oven and plate each one. Remove caramel sauce and pour generous amount over top each apple. Garnish with fresh tarragon for mint leaves.