ARTS

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February 20, 2004

Small-Time Cooks

I was still recovering from Valentine's Day when Maria burst through my door. She knocked me back like a .38 caliber, but then again, a good dame always knocks you off your feet. She had just seen Iron Chef for the first time, and she was like a kid at Christmas after watching the show.

Maria and I were so busy that we couldn't find time to cook in the past week, so we watched the show whenever it came on. The three Iron Chefs were masters of their art and kicked ass all over Kitchen Stadium. We decided every chef should aspire to be an Iron Chef.

During the International Food Festival, the J-Club held its annual Iron Chef competition, a resplendent re-creation of the show. Chefs from the Vegan Society and Culinary Club did battle, and after three spectacular dishes from both teams, the Vegan chef was named the new Iron Chef. Below is his dessert: a simple yet elegant use of potatoes, the secret ingredient in the competition. You can find out more about the Culinary Club and Vegan Society at their web pages, culinary.uchicago.edu and vegan.uchicago.edu, respectively.

This dish serves 4.

*Apple-Latke Napoleon*

Latkes:

3-4 small red potatoes, skinned and grated

1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil

Press the shaved potatoes together to form 1/2 centimeter-thick patties, 10 centimeters in diameter.  Heat the oil on high in a skillet, and fry the patties until both sides are golden brown, about 2 minutes for each side. Remove from heat and set aside.

*Apple Butter:*

4 small, dense apples (such as honey crisp or Jonathan), diced in 2-centimeter pieces

1/3 cup Grade A light amber maple syrup

Heat the maple syrup in a medium skillet or sauté pan. Bring it to a simmer (but do not boil), and allow it to reduce for 1 minute. Add apples and cook. Stir constantly for 15 minutes or until the apples are just becoming golden and are smooth and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

*Apple Sorbet:*

5 small apples (use same variety of apples as above), coarsely chopped

1 1/2 cups hard apple cider

1/2 cup fructose

pinch of salt

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend for 2 minutes. Freeze in an ice cream maker. If you do not have an ice cream maker, freeze granita-style: put the mixture in a shallow pan and place in a freezer. Thoroughly stir every 10 minutes until the mixture is frozen.

*Garnish:*

maple syrup, heated

confectioners' sugar

ground cinnamon

To assemble:

On a flat-bottomed plate, place one of the latkes. Top this with a small mound of apple butter. Place another latke on top of the apple butter. Top with one scoop of the sorbet. Dust the plate with the confectioners' sugar and cinnamon. Just before serving, place 1/8 Tablespoon maple syrup on the top of the sorbet, and enjoy.