Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Butternut Squash and Apple Ragout

Most of us think us think of apples as an “eat out of hand snack”, apple pie filling and as a mostly pastry kitchen ingredient. Apples are actually one of the most versatile ingredients being used in savory and pastry applications.

The crisp, tart apple combines well with herbs, onions and Autumnal squash. This beautiful side dish can be made several days ahead of serving and can be served with chicken, beef or fish. For a WOW presentation-hollow out a small pumpkin and fill it with the cooked ragout. Lightly oil the pumpkin and reheat the ragout in a low oven at 300 F until the ragout is hot and the pumpkin is lightly browned.

2 red onions, julienne
2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into medium dice
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
3 Honey crisp or other firm apple, cored and cut into dice
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 ounce porcini mushrooms
1 bouquet garni (parsley stems, thyme sprigs, rosemary, sage, bay leaf)
1 cup peeled and sautéed until browned pearl onions*
1 cup mushrooms, sautéed
Kosher salt and pepper

1.     Sauté the onions in a Dutch oven, lightly coated with olive oil, over medium heat until the onions are soft and quite brown (about 10 minutes).
2.     Add the squash and continue sautéing until the squash is browned on all sides. Transfer the onions and squash to a bowl.
3.     Continue sautéing all the vegetables and apples, adding more oil to the pan when necessary.
4.     Add all the vegetables back to the pan and add the tomato paste and honey. Stir to coat. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
5.     Add the stock, porcini mushrooms and bouquet garni. Cover and cook in preheated oven until the squash is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
6.     Add the pearl onions and mushrooms and season to taste with salt and pepper.

*Chef’s tip-The task of peeling pearl onions, my favorite cipollini onions and shallots is enough to make anyone swear off of using these flavor-packed, gorgeous embellishments.

A simple chef trick is to blanch them in boiling water first, plunge them into ice water (shock them) so you can handle them, and then their little “jackets” slide right off.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Place the onions, shallots or garlic in a heat proof colander or strainer. Place the strainer in the boiling water. Blanch the vegetables for 2-3 minutes.
Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water (you want it large enough to accommodate the colander with the onions in it). Remove the colander from the boiling water and place it in the ice water. This process is called “shocking”. It stops the cooking process. Allow the onions to cool completely. Remove the onions from the water. Cut a small end from the tip off and the skin should slip right off.

Apple Pie Shooters

This is the perfect 2 bite dessert. All the components of apple pie, and without the stress of rolling out a crust!
I do this dessert with mini glass tumblers or with small plastic dessert cups. I love the idea that everyone can grab their dessert and plop on the couch or wherever (there is a lot” table-time” during the holidays and sometimes it is nice to move about)
This easy to prepare dessert is perfect for Rosh Hashanah and especially for Sukkot when casual dining and less kitchen prep is a necessity. This is a great recipe for Thanksgiving as well.
The dessert can easily be doubled or tripled for large crowds or multiple dinners.

Serves 8

Special equipment: 8 2-ounce cups, shot glasses or mini parfait cups, 8 demitasse spoons

3 Honey-Crisp Apples, peeled, cored and placed in acidulated water
3 tablespoons apple cider
¼ cup sugar-divided
2 tablespoons cognac or water
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon sea salt

1.       Dice 2 of the peeled and cored apples and place in a small sauce pan with 3 tablespoons of cider and 2 tablespoons of sugar.

2.       Cook the apples over medium heat until they are very soft and can easily be broken with a fork.

3.       Puree the apples to make applesauce and set aside.

4.       Cut the remaining apple into brunoise/micro dice (about ¼ inch pieces). 

5.       Place the cognac in a sauté pan and add the remaining sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Stir to combine.

6.       Add the apples and stir until coated. Cook the mixture until the apples are soft but still hold their shape (about 5-7 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.

For the crust

¾ cup of rolled oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons flour
¼ cup butter or non-hydrogenated shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of sea salt

1.       Place all of the ingredients in a mixing and with your hands, rub the ingredients until they form a coarse crumb mixture.

2.       Place the mixture on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12 minutes until lightly browned.

 Set aside to cool

3.       Break up the crust and divide evenly into the glasses.

For the glaze

Apple Cider Glaze
1 ¼ cup confectioner’s sugar
3 tablespoons apple cider
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk together until thick and creamy.

Assemble the shooters

1.       Divide the apple sauce into the glasses on top of the crust. Top each glass with diced apples. Drizzle with glaze. The shooters can be assembled up to 2 days before serving.