As some of you may or may not know, I am going to be traveling to France in February to help assist the woman who runs the cooking school On Rue Tatin, Susan Herrmann Loomis.
Now, you may be wondering how I got so lucky as to be able to score such a killer, and yes, I do mean, killer opportunity.
It's an amazing tale, so sit back, relax and prepare to be envious:
I wrote her an email...and she wrote back.
I know, I know, that could quite possibly be the most boring story ever, but sometimes that's how fabulous opportunities fall into your lap--you make it happen by simply asking the question.
Still in the planning stages of this adventure, I was wandering around a secondhand bookstore in San Francisco when I stumbled upon her memoir: On Rue Tatin.
Figuring that it might induce good karma or something, I went ahead and bought it, along with another cookbook that lies lonely in a storage shed in Iowa.
As I read through the memoir, hoping for a little insight to this lovely woman and her charming school, I couldn't help but appreciate her talents as a writer. Hers is the sort of memoir that makes you feel as if you're sharing stories over tea with an old friend. Exciting, romantic stories about moving to and living in France, but friendly, warm stories nonetheless.
I loved the book, and it got me even more excited to learn from her in her own kitchen.
Until that happens, though, I thought I'd brush up on my skills by tackling one of the recipes sprinkled throughout her memoir. Quite a few caught my eye, but one in particular stood out, and I sincerely believe that I'm not the only one susceptible to recipe titles that include the words "goat cheese" and "leeks".
At least, I hope not, for all of your sakes.
Baked Apples Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Leeks
Adapted from On Rue Tatin by Susan Herrmann Loomis
4 large apples, cored
1 cup white wine, preferably dry
1 bay leaf
2 Tbs butter
2 large leeks, white and light green parts only (She calls only for the white parts, but I used a bit more)
1 Tbs water
4 ounces goat cheese (She calls for 7, but I only picked up 4 on accident, and thought it worked fine. Choose whichever you'd like)
2 Tbs milk (She calls for creme fraiche or heavy cream. I didn't have either on hand and substituted milk with no problem)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel one strip of skin around the outside middle of each apple (The apple should look like it has a pale sash tied around its waist). Place the apples in a baking dish and pour the wine in. Toss the bay leaf with the wine.
Cut the leeks in half, then rinse them well under a faucet or in a large bowl of water. Dice the leeks, then put them and 1 Tbs of butter into a large saucepan. Cook, taking care not to let the leeks stick, until the leeks begin to turn transparent. Add 1 Tbs water and stir. Cover the pan and allow leeks to continue cooking until tender about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the leeks, and if they look like they're beginning to stick, add a bit more water.
Once the leeks are cooked, put them in a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the milk and stir until thoroughly combined. Season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly salt the inside of the apples. Stuff each apple with a quarter of the leek mixture, taking care to press it all the way down into the cavity of the apple. You'll have enough to mound some of the mixture on top.
Top each apple with 1/4 of the remaining 1 Tbs. of butter.
Bake the apples in the middle of the oven until the apples are tender and the leek mixture is dark golden, about 40-45 minutes.
Transfer apples to plates, garnish with parsley if you like and serve.