NYC gems and maple baked apples with cranberries, apricots and pistachios

Ralph and I spent New Year’s in New York City. Six glorious days and nights of theatre, movies, museums, gourmet deli window shopping, Fifth Avenue strolling, subway riding and most importantly eating. Every time we go to New York, I book theatre tickets and dinner reservations. Nothing can suck the joy from a holiday faster than wandering aimlessly through the streets of Manhattan in search of food. We leave breakfast and lunch to the gods but dinner – not a chance! I scour restaurant reviews then cross reference them until finally I have a pick.

Our two favourites were Mario Batali’s flagship Babbo and a gorgeously romantic little gem in the West Village called One if by Land, Two if By Sea. I’ve wanted to dine at Babbo since it opened but could never get a table before 10 pm. Too late to commit a whole evening to it and too early for an after-theatre dinner. This time the stars aligned and we got our reservation. I was vibrating with excitement as we enter the jam packed, Manhattan foodie fest! In a city where real estate is at a premium, it’s rare to have more than eight inches between tables. I marvel at the servers dexterity. I’d be dumping soup all over the place! We were seated upstairs at an over sized table for two. The size of the table set the stage for what was to be an exquisite dining experience. Click here if you’d like to see the menu… I always order dishes with ingredients that I can’t find at home. Every plate was a work of art. From complete simplicity to elaborate elegance, the talent in that kitchen blew my mind. I’ve found my new muse…

For Ralph’s birthday, I took him to One if by Land, Two if By Sea. Close friends of ours had dined there a year ago New Years Eve and were blown away. Any New Year’s Eve I’ve eaten out was both over sold and under delivered. I was intrigued.

It’s tucked away in a quaint 18th-century carriage house on a winding street in the West Village surrounded by Brownstones adorned with Christmas greenery and tiny white lights. Arriving was magical! The bar reminded us of the pubs in London which made us laugh given the restaurant’s name!

The service was stunning. The food was superb. A perfect evening to celebrate Ralph’s birthday. If you’d like to see their menu, click here .

Not all of our meals were posh. We love New York diners, pizza joints, hole-in-the-wall Chinese and neighborhood pubs. From carpaccio to bagels with cream cheese, we happily ate away our holiday in New York City.

Monday we leave for Vegas… I love my life!

I’ve been thinking about baked apples since seeing them on one of the kabillion menus I read in New York. I remembered my mom making them when I was little.. I kid you not, If you’re in a hurry but need something delicious for dessert, try this recipe. Ralph licked his bowl clean!

MAPLE BAKED APPLES WITH CRANBERRIES, APRICOTS AND PISTACHIOS
Preheat oven to 375*F

6 medium apples, I used Macs
2 tablespoons dried cranberries, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons dried apricot, chopped
¼ cup maple butter or maple caramel I used maple caramel

THE STEPS:

Work quickly so that the apples don’t oxidize and turn brown!

  • Cut the tops of the apples and core the seeds and tough core out with a small paring knife or demi- tasse spoon. Leave a bit of the bottom so filling doesn’t melt out of the apples while baking. 
  • In a small bowl, mix together the cranberries, apricots, pistachios and maple butter or caramel .
  • Fill the apple cavities with the maple mixture to over flowing.
  • Place the tops back on top squishing into the maple mixture.
  • Place them in a small baking dish close together so they don‘t roll over.
  • Bake the apples until tender , about 30 minutes. Time will vary depending on the size of the apples. You want the apples to hold their shape but be soft on the inside.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
  • They can also be made ahead, kept in the refrigerator and reheated right before serving.

THE LOVE: Make sure that the apple you choose is a little tart to off set the sweetness of the filling.

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one year ago: homemade fennel sausage carbonara

two years ago: fresh lemon zest in syrup

Thanks for reading.