Recipes from 'Lidia's Family Table'

Turn the vegetables, scraping up all the crumbs, into the baking dish and spread them in an even layer. Sprinkle over the remaining 1/4 cup of crumbs, cut the rest of the butter in small pieces and scatter them all over the top. Place the dish in the oven.

Bake the gratinate for 10 minutes, then rotate it back to front and bake another 10 minutes. Check to see that it is browning and bake a few minutes more, until the gratinate is dark golden and crusted. (If the crumbs still look pale after 20 minutes in your oven, raise the temperature to 400 degrees or 425 degrees and bake until done.)

Serve the hot gratinate in the baking dish. Recipe serves 6 or more.

Apple Crisp Parfait

For poaching the apples:

• 4 pounds firm, tart apples for baking

• Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated

• Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), freshly squeezed and strained

• 1½ cups sugar

• 1/2 cup water

For the parfait

• 3 cups heavy cream, for whipping

• 2 to 3 cups Brown Sugar Crisp Crumbles (see recipe)

Recommended Equipment:
A large saucepan, 5-or 6-quart capacity, with a cover

Poaching the Apples:

Cut the apples in thick wedges, peel, and cut away the cores and seeds. Slice the wedges into chunks and cubes, an inch thick or larger (don't cut them too small or they will overcook). As you work, put the apple chunks in a mixing bowl and toss with some of the lemon zest and juice, to prevent browning. When you're finished, you should have about 10 cups of apples mixed with all the zest and juice.

Pour the sugar over the apples, and toss gently to coat the pieces. Turn all the fruit into the saucepan, slosh the bowl with the ½ cup water to rinse out all the sugar, and pour that into the pan too.

Set the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Stir the apples gently (so they're all heating), cover the pan, and cook about 2 minutes. Remove the cover, and continue to boil, reducing the juices, stirring the apple chunks around a couple of times, but not mushing them up. After 5 or 6 minutes, when the apples have softened and turned translucent on the outside (they won't be cooked all the way through), remove the pan from the heat. If the chunks have started to fall apart, turn them out of the saucepan into a bowl to stop cooking; otherwise, let the apples and the remaining liquid cool to room temperature (the chunks will reabsorb some of their juices as they sit).

The apples can be cooked a day ahead and refrigerated; let them warm up a bit before serving.

Assembling the parfaits:

Have the apples, crumbled-up crisp, and serving glasses ready.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, by hand or in an electric mixer. (No sugar or flavoring is needed, since the apples and crisp are quite sweet.)

Spoon about 1/2 cup of apple chunks into each glass, making a thick layer that fills the bottom. Scatter crisp crumbles on top -- anywhere from 2 to 5 tablespoons on each parfait. Plop 1/2 cup or so of whipped cream on top of the crisp crumbles.

Now repeat the layer -- apples, crumbles, cream -- in each glass. These can be smaller amounts, or as ample as the bottom layers, for an impressive and generous dessert.

Brown Sugar Crisp Crumbles (Makes 4 to 5 cups of crumbled-up crisp):

• 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

• 1/2 cup sugar

• 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

• 1/4 teaspoon salt

• 4 ounces (1 stick) cold butter, in 1/2-inch pieces

• 3 tablespoons cold water

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