By Carolyne

You can make this topping ahead of time and heat to serve. You want to serve this topping almost hot.

Core and sauté coarsely chopped firm apples, in very hot butter. I love firm Delicious apples and a more or less matching amount of chopped Spanish onion. About equal portions.

Fry full fat slices of bacon, chopped coarsely in about one-inch pieces, until almost but not quite crispy. Add a little fresh rosemary and a pinch of fresh thyme. The flavours will explode in the mouth. Put everything back into the skillet.

Flambé the apple mix with your favourite cognac. If you have a marinated black mission fig jar, stir in a mashed, minced marinated fig and a tablespoon of the jar cognac liquid.

Sprinkle with just a little salt. Apples like salt; it brings out their flavour.

Pour a little double reduced maple syrup crème anglaise over the mixture as you mound the apple mix over freshly made dinner-plate size pancakes. Don’t make the pancakes too thick. Add a tiny bit of the hot bacon fat, drizzled over top, and grate a bit of orange peel on top. Or chop a few pieces of your candied orange peel strips you keep on hand in a sugar jar.

Don’t overcook the pancakes. Try buckwheat or buttermilk pancakes, freshly made. Keep them warm in a large chafing dish or in the oven.

This topping is also great on French toast, and/or as a crepe filling. And don’t forget to try it on homemade waffles.

A nice drink with this dish is freshly made hot chocolate topped with a big spoon of Grand Marnier flavoured Chantilly cream.

Now for a more savoury topping: simply replace the apples with firm green tomatoes, seeded and chopped. Sautéed just briefly, once over lightly. You don’t want them to turn to mush. Use the reduced maple anglaise sauce, but add a few generous grinds of fresh ground cracked black pepper, and just follow the rest of the recipe. Amazing use for fresh green tomatoes. First ones on the vine as soon as they are ripe.

Now, if you really, really want decadence, try this. Replace the apples with Bing cherries (absolutely not cherry pie filling).

I always have bottled Bing cherries in my pantry. These are dark burgundy or mahogany coloured cherries. The kind used for authentic Black Forest cake. Of course you can use fresh Bing cherries in season, or if available in your area. Using fresh cherries, cook them in light sugar syrup until they just wilt a bit.

I thicken the bottled cherries and juice using a little cornstarch because I don’t want to reduce the juice. Stir in real, authentic kirschwasser. There are no substitutes for it. Add to the sautéed onions. The fresh rosemary goes nicely with the cherries for a sweet rustic flavour. Flavour the crème anglaise with Marsala.

Another time, over the cherries, pour sabayon or zabaglione, flavoured with Marsala. Turn this breakfast or brunch – pancakes, crepes, or waffles – into a dinner meal, as an accompaniment to my Marsala chicken. This wonderful Bing cherry recipe goes perfectly with roast venison or with roasted lamp chops, too. For those who enjoy duck, give it a try, too.

Here’s a link to my Marsala chicken REM recipe.

The first time I published this, a colleague sent me a “delicious note,” saying she had replicated my recipe in her own real estate newsletter. Readers are welcome to do so, but because my recipes are part of my manuscript, kindly honour the copyright.

Simply YUM gourmet.

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. The cookbook will be available in the coming year. Email Carolyne.


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