No matter how you celebrate, the weeks and hours leading up to the Holiday Meal are one long warm-up, as we munch through the cookie-exchange marathon and exercise patience for the highly anticipated feast.
As a kid, I was so tempted by the enticing scents wafting from the kitchen that I hung around to plead for just a bite, and got nominated to make an apple pie. Now that I am often the one at the stove, I prepare some healthy, filling snacks to keep my guests satiated, but not stuffed.
When those hungry kids and uncles come and hang on my apron, I offer Christmas apples.
I go with the most popular variety in the world, the Gala. Make a quick dry dip by mixing one-part cinnamon and one-part sugar in a small bowl as a flavor tease for all the cinnamon-spiked desserts to come. To keep the apples from browning on the plate, slice and toss in vitamin C-fortified apple juice. In preparation for the inevitable hunger pangs, cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator.
Before modern cold storage, apples were stashed in cold cellars, swaddled in straw or fabric to keep them fresh for the winter. Families carefully banked their homegrown apple harvest, saving the best specimens for Holiday treats, as this essay excerpt on the Christmas apple tradition suggests:
“The first bite into a crisp, sweet apple on an icy December morn was eagerly anticipated…as we might today spend days before Christmas speculating what might be in all the wonderful boxes festooned with velveteen ribbons beneath the tree”
Take a tip from our great-grandmothers: Serve Christmas apples, and witness the excitement as your loved ones enjoy this simple – and healthy – holiday treat.
-Chef Robin Asbell
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