The September 2010 Daring Cooks' challenge was hosted by John of Eat4Fun. John chose to challenge the Daring Cooks to learn about food preservation, mainly in the form of canning and freezing. He challenged everyone to make a recipe and preserve it. John's source for food preservation information was from The National Center for Home Food Preservation.
This challenge was more about learning a process than producing a specific product. There was an extensive tutorial on preserving - both canning and freezing. Coming from a long line of food preservers, you would think I would be really comfortable with all this, but I have never been a jelly/jam maker and it has never even occurred to me to "put up" fruits and vegetables. I've seen it done but I've never done it on my own. My daughter, Elisabeth, probably knows more about this than I do!
Nonetheless, I followed John's suggestion and made apple butter and chose freezing as the preservation method since it requires substantially less equipment and time. The butter came together really quickly and easily and I was ready for the preserving piece of the challenge in no time.
We are not big users of jellies or jams or spreads in this house. I use them as ingredients in recipes sometimes, but never on toast. Nick loves his Grandma's Oregon grape jelly, but he's the only one who uses jelly as a spread. However - I had a thought about how to use the apple butter.
I eat apples raw and in salads and in ... pie! Could I find a way to make a pie-like product with the apple butter? My thought was to make gougeres with cheddar cheese in them, bake them and then fill them with the apple butter. An experiment in an alternate pie universe, perhaps.
And with little effort - pie in a bite! The gougeres have grated cheddar added before cooking. After they puffed up, I filled them with the apple butter by just inserting a very small spoon into the center of the gougere and adding the apple butter. Topped with some whipped cream and a little mint sprig, we have a bite-sized dessert which, if not exactly a pie, comes close.
I found it best to use a somewhat milder cheddar since a very sharp cheese takes over the flavor of the gougere and doesn't complement the apple butter as much. These are best hot, right out of the oven, but the pastry can be cooled and refrigerated or frozen and then heated up at a later point. I think I would add the apple butter before reheating to be sure everything was piping hot when served.
Fun little experiment.