I have a new restaurant on my ever growing bucket list. After watching the Netflix Documentary series “Chef’s Table,” in which the luckiest people in the world interview and follow and film the world’s most creative, elegant, and talented chefs, I’ve decided I need to get myself to Blue Hill in New York. Head chef Dan Barber essentially founded the Farm-to-Table restaurant movement. Originating from his desire to combine environmentally sustainable practices, nutritiously beneficial food, moral social practices and of course taste, he has become world renowned for the subtle complexities on display at his restaurant. At the most basic level, he wants every ingredient on his plates to have a sense of self worth and integrity. As Chef Barber sees it, a single radish prepared well should be just as impressive as the 24 day aged steak. He finds meaning in simplicity. But for this to work, he has to start with the best ingredients.
With that in mind, I wanted to figure out the best way to showcase the local food star of September: the apple. I wanted to give it the attention it deserves, without losing its essential “apple-ness.” And that’s the trick with food- mixing and matching flavors without losing the essence of any individual ingredient. Every ingredient has a purpose.
I like fruit crisps, but in my mind the apple plays second fiddle to the topping (because butter is a hard flavor to compete with). So I decided to do an inside out crisp of sorts- hollow out an apple, and stuff it with just a tiny bit of a crisp like topping. Then throw that in the oven so the apple can release its natural sweetness, add some creamy yogurt and some crunchy toasted hazelnuts…and the rest is history.
Baked Breakfast Apple
1 local as good as you can find Apple
1 tablespoon rolled oats
2 teaspoons quinoa (I used tri-colored)
1 teaspoon dried cranberries (fruit sweetened if possible!)
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 teaspoons salted butter (cold and cut into small pieces)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
6-8 hazelnuts, toasted
Yogurt for serving
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is preheating, prepare your apple. Using a sharp knife, cut a circle in the top. The size will depend on your apple, but for reference my circle was the about the size of my pinky finger. You want to have a big enough hole for the filling, but not so big you lose the apple! Also be sure not to cut through to the bottom! I found it helped to use the knife initially, and then use a spoon to take out the rest.
2. Prepare your filling. Combine the oats, quinoa, cranberries, syrup, and cinnamon. Then using your fingers, work the butter into the mixture until it resembles coarse sand.
3. Stuff all of the filling into your apple. Place your apple in a dish that is just barely bigger than the apple itself. Put a little water in the bottom of the dish (so it covers 1/4-1/3 of your apple). This creates a steaming effect, which gets your apple nice and soft.
4. Bake, uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Total time will depend on the size of your apple, so start checking at 20 minutes. You want it soft to the touch, and the skin starting to separate from the apple itself.
5. Once cooked through, let rest for 5 minutes. Top with yogurt and hazelnuts and a dash more cinnamon, and enjoy! I had mine with two local maple-sage breakfast sausages. A truly harmonious mixture of savory and sweet.