Saturday, November 15, 2008

Impromptu Dinner Party

Last night my husband and I hosted an impromptu dinner party. I had been planning a roasted chicken dinner as a test run for our Thanksgiving turkey. I figured it would be a good foil for the roasted potatoes and stuffing I am planning to make. Yes, I know....2 starches...but what's a girl to do? So, sue me...I didn't serve bread. I rounded it out with a sensible green salad and sauteed broccoli. Oh...and my husband's favorite--cranberry fluff. I started preparing, I realized that I was making a lot of food for just the 2 of us. So I invited our neighbor who was bachin' it for the night. Once I invited an outside guest, the tables were turned. I had to have a dessert. My husband and I don't normally have dessert with dinner. It's a special occasion thing. Maybe because we eat stuffing and potatoes at the same sitting...maybe because we don't need it...maybe because life isn't fair. But, an outsider was entering our midst, and I had to have something.

I'm a trained pastry chef so you'd think this wouldn't be an issue with me. But it was. I didn't have a lot of time, I needed to clean my latest craft project off the dining room table, tidy the dining room from my general lack of attention to tidiness, clean the silver, dust off the crystal....
Did I mention that I wanted to use our wedding china, silver and crystal? I figured it was time...oh...and I broke out the Christmas china...maybe a bit early for that...but if I was cleaning, I was pulling all the stops.

Back to dessert.
I went with what I had on hand and it turned out great. I thought I would pass it on to you.
I buttered some ramekins...the big ones, about 8 ounces each...I then peeled and sliced about 1 1/2 apples per person, into a bowl. I used a combination of granny smith and fuji. Use a majority of granny smith...if you are mixing. You need to use a good baking apple for this. I sliced the apples pretty thin, probaby 1/8 of an inch thick. I then sprinkled some granulated sugar...use your judgement, just to lightly dust. I then added a dusting of cinnamon, more or less depending on if you love cinnamon...and about a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg. Tossed it all together and crammed it into the ramekins. And when I say cram, I mean it. They cook and shrink and you need to pack them in. For the topping, I took about 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, a pinch of salt a small handful of toasted slivered almonds and mixed together. I then mixed in, by hand, about 1/2 stick of room temperature butter. The mixture was soft and gooey and I placed a dollop on top of each ramekin. I had a bit of granola on hand, so I sprinkled a bit on each one for a little crunch factor. When we sat down to dinner I placed them in a 400 degree oven and let them bake until they were nice and bubbly...about 30 minutes.

After pulling from the oven I let them sit until the proper dessert wine was poured (hey it was a party!). I topped them with vanilla ice cream and waited for the applause...still waiting...
Really, they were wonderful and so easy and a great last minute dessert. They maybe took 15 minutes to prepare and then they sat in the fridge until heading to the oven.

Dinner parties are fun. Sitting at a beautifully laid table is my favorite part. Cleaning up afterward is not.


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