November 12, 2012

Seasonal Sensation: Maple-Baked Lady Apples with Herbed Goat Cheese

“What are you going to do with those? Decoration?” said the cashier as she eyed my purchase dubiously and weighed the bag.  “Not for eating, right?”

I was in one of those small and chi chi produce shops where every gleaming pristine piece of fruit is placed just so, where tomatoes are always in season, and where you can pay a king’s ransom for strawberries the size of golf balls.  The kind of place the Brits would call a greengrocer and what I usually call a bit of a swindle. 

There is one advantage to such a store however and it’s this; they’ll bring in the oddities that mainstream grocers won’t.  Three types of radicchio flown in from Treviso; fresh porcini mushrooms; wild blueberries, tiny and sweet.  Those treasures are seasonal and all the more precious because of it; better buy some today, because next week they may be gone.

I had been on the hunt for one such prize and I wasn’t disappointed.   There, almost hidden from view, a bushel, filled to brim with tiny colourful Lady apples. 

I knew exactly what I was going to do with these little beauties: give them an autumnal spin in the oven and then stuff them with herbed goat cheese.  A perfect one bite seasonal sensation.  Yes, they were for eating.  But they sure look pretty too.

Baked Lady Apples Stuffed with Herbed Goat Cheese
makes 12

1 dozen Lady apples
¼-½  maple syrup
½-¾  c softened plain goat cheese
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 large sprig fresh rosemary; more for garnish

1    1.  Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

 2    2.  Cut the tops off of the Lady apples, brush the undersides with maple syrup and set aside.  With a melon baller, scoop out the inner flesh of the apples, making sure to get any bits of seed.  As you cut each apple, brush the cavity generously with maple syrup.

3    3.  Place the apples, cut side up, and the tops, cut side down, on a large baking sheet.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the apples are softened but not mushy.  The tops may be ready more quickly; if so, take them out and set them aside to cool while the apples continue to bake.

4    4.  While the apples are baking, prepare the goat cheese filling.  Chop the herbs finely and mix them into the cheese, incorporating fully.

5    5.  When the apples are done, let them cool for 10 minutes.  Fill each cavity with a generous spoonful of goat cheese, top each apple with a “lid” and finish off with a decorative sprig of rosemary in each apple.  The apples can be made ahead and stuffed, covered and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature before serving.