Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Mentor's Gift

I have been privileged to have several mentors who have changed the course of my life--one was my piano teacher Renee. A gifted pianist, Renee was also a fabulous cook who guarded her culinary knowledge very carefully. If I happened to be in her kitchen when she was cooking, Renee would share her culinary secrets, and I would be sworn to secrecy. I treasure the memory of those moments with my mentor and value the recipes she entrusted to me. Now that Renee has passed away, I can think of no greater way to honor her memory than to share what little I know of her culinary knowledge. This will be the first of several posts reflecting my cooking lessons with Renee.

In this recipe I used both Macouns and Empires for their flavor and texture. The red skin of the Empire’s imparts a lovely pink color to the finished sauce. During the winter when Macoun’s are more difficult to come by, I use only Empire’s. Soft apples must not be used in this recipe, as they will not hold their shape during cooking, and this sauce is intended to be slightly chunky.
Renee’s Applesauce
12 Empire apples
12 Macoun apples
1 piece of vanilla bean 2 to 3 inches long

Select a two-quart pot with a lid and set aside. Quarter the apples. Using a paring knife cut out the cores. Do not peel the apples. Place the cored apple quarters into the pot. Add the piece of vanilla bean and two inches of water. Place the pot on a large burner and cover. Turn the burner to high. When the water boils, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer just until the apples are tender and the peels are separating from the quarters. Add a little more water if necessary to prevent scorching.

When the apples are done, remove the pan from the stove and set it on the counter. After about 10 minutes, use a fork to fish out the peels. Do not remove the vanilla bean. When the sauce has cooled completely scrape it into a bowl, serve and enjoy!

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