For those of you that aren’t familiar with Kitchen Play, it’s a unique Progressive Party with six talented food bloggers assigned one of the following courses: cocktail, amuse bouche, salad, appetizer/soup, entrée (main course) and dessert. All six bloggers are challenged to incorporate the same product or kitchen tool into six wildly different courses.
This month’s Progressive Party is sponsored by the U.S. Apple Association, and I was honored to be asked to create an original amuse bouche course featuring apples. The U.S. Apple Association works on behalf of apple growers throughout the United States and helps to educate consumers about the health benefits and versatility of apples and apple products. The U.S. Apple Association had a special request for this Progressive Party – highlight simple recipes that would appeal to moms and their busy schedules.
An amuse bouche is a one- or two-bite appetizer. Literally, it means “mouth amuser,” and it is often served in a restaurant to highlight a chef’s cooking style. I’m a mom. And, I can safely say that until now I had never, ever made an amuse bouche for my child. So, please allow me a bit of license with this Progressive Party assignment. From simple to snazzy, I’ve created three “apple-tizer” options: Apple Almond Sandwich Bites, Apple Chips & Dip, and Cherry Apple Chutney with Gouda on a Basil Crisp. Yes, your child will probably never touch that last one to her lips, but sometimes a mom just has to do the grown up thing.
Apple Almond Sandwich Bites
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. almond butter
1/4 t. cinnamon
Hold the apple vertically, and slice 1/4″ thick slices from the side of the apple (avoiding the seeds). Cut shapes with small cookie cutters. Dunk the cut shapes in lemon juice. (This step avoids browning. Some varieties of apples are slower to brown than others. Cortlands resist browning, but I generally find them too sweet for my tastes.) Top each cut out with a dollop of almond butter and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Apple Chips and Dip
We all think of tortilla chips and salsa when we think of chips and dip. But, there’s a healthier option! U.S. apples can get to your table in a number of ways besides just fresh from the tree. In fact, 4 out of 10 U.S. apples are made into a processed apple product – apple chips, dried apples, apple sauce, apple juice and other apple foods. This apple-tizer highlights 3 processed apple products – apple chips, apple butter, and dried apples.
1 T. peanut butter
2 t. apple butter (Try to find the kind that is made with nothing but apples and apple juice. I used homemade.)
3 apple chips (I used Seneca Foods Cinnamon Apple Chips.)
1 T. chopped dried apple
Mix the peanut butter and the apple butter together until smooth. Spoon a dollop onto each apple chip and top with a sprinkling of dried apples.
Cherry Apple Chutney and Cheese on a Basil Crisp
Mom’s love to feed their children. But every so often, we scoot them off to the babysitter’s house and make a fancy schmancy meal for ourselves and our best friends, right? That’s the time when you pull out this recipe – pairing sweet and salty and sour, this is a sophisticated flavor profile, that highlights that apples can appeal to more than just the kiddo crowd, too.
Cherry Apple Chutney
1/2 cup (65 g) tart cherries
1/4 cup fresh, unfiltered apple cider
1 T. fresh lime juice
1 T. maple syrup
1 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped apples (I did not peel mine, but if you don’t like peels, go ahead and peel them.) (A cooking variety works well here. Try Rome Beauty.)
Place all ingredients except the apples in a small blender and puree until smooth. Place pureed sauce in a small pot and simmer gently until syrupy – about 30 minutes. Add apples and simmer gently until apples are soft – another 10 minutes or so depending on how firm of an apple you choose. Cool completely. It will thicken as it cools. (You will have more of this than you need for a few apple-tizers. It’s great on ice cream, toast, and pancakes, too.)
handful of fresh basil leaves
Preheat oven to 325°. Wash and dry your basil leaves. Spritz with spray oil. (I use a refillable pump. I’ve not tried this with commercial spray oils. If you don’t have a refillable pump, I would suggest dipping your fingers in oil and gently brushing them on the basil leaves.) Place leaves on a baking tray. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for about 5-8 minutes, until crispy, flipping them half way through baking time. Set aside to cool.
Apple Cider Reduction
1/4 cup fresh, unfiltered apple cider
Pour apple cider into a 2 cup microwave-safe container. Microwave on high for 3-5 minutes, watching carefully and stirring occasionally. Mixture should reduce by half. Be careful, it quickly goes from reduced to caramelized. Apple cider caramel is tasty, but not what you want here.
On a small serving dish, drizzle a teaspoon or so of the apple cider reduction. Place a basil crisp on top of the cider. Add a small slice of gouda (or non-dairy gooda) and a teaspoon of apple chutney.
If any of these apple-tizers whet your apple-tite (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), you can make them, or your own take on them, and have a chance to win a great prize! The US Apple Association is sponsoring a wonderful giveaway at Kitchen PLAY. Simply recreate any one recipe from this month’s Progressive Party, post about the experience on your blog and provide a link to your post on Kitchen PLAY to enter. All qualifying bloggers in each course will be entered to win $100 (6 prizes total). The deadline is September 30, 2011. Please review the complete contest rules before entering. Good luck!