When travelling by car, I enjoy taking “the scenic route,” especially during autumn, when the beauty of fall’s palette of colors explodes in brilliant hues of gold and orange, crimson and bronze. Enroute, I’ve noticed that farm stands have begun displaying apples, a seasonal favorite, heaped into those tattered wooden baskets. Supermarkets, too, have displays of many varieties, more than at other times of the year.
Apples are America’s favorite fruit, and apple picking is a popular autumn family activity. What better way to embrace the season than to gather in the kitchen to prepare some dishes with the fresh “crop” the family has just picked. It draws us to the kitchen, as we contemplate, “Now what am I going to do with all of these apples?”
Just thinking about the cinnamon aroma of an apple pie baking in the oven is a simple, delightful pleasure, sure to awaken our senses of smell and taste. Autumn is the time home cooks begin to experiment with new dishes, in hopes of finding something “new’ and/or “original” to prepare for the holiday season. Others find cooking and baking are activities that bring the family together, especially on a cold and rainy fall day.
Whether baked into a pie, dipped in peanut butter or just eaten straight from the tree, apples are a tried-and-true favorite for millions of people in America and around the world.
Did you know?
• There are more than 7,500 varieties of apples
• Washington produces more than half of the apples grown in the U.S. New York, Michigan, Pennsylvania (ranked fourth), California and Virginia are also top producers
• About one-quarter of U.S.-grown apples are exported
• One gallon of apple cider is made from approximately 36 apples
• Apples are a member of the rose family.
• 25% of an apple’s volume is air; that’s why they float.
• The science of apple growing is called pomology
Each year, my search is on to find a new “apple” cookbook for my collection so I can experiment with new recipes and get inspiration. “Apples: 50 Tried & True Recipes,” by Julia Rutland (2020, AdventureKEEN Publications, $16.95) is this year’s addition. From drinks and salads to breads, main dishes and of course, my favorite, dessert, we’ll have some new ideas of what to do with all of those apples. Rutland writes about how to buy and store the fruit as well as what type of apples are best for different types of preparation. Her hints about ripening, and how to avoid browning, are helpful. She writes, “People love apples because the flavor connects them to loved ones and special memories. It reminds them of climbing trees, family picnics, and Grandma’s homemade pie.”
Now, it’s time to get cooking with these recipes …
The headnote says, “Parsnips are available year-round, but they peak during fall and winter. When hit with frost, their starch converts to sugar, but many find the root a little bitter. Apples blend well and add a subtle sweetness that pairs nicely. Save a few pieces of sliced leek for garnish.”
Roasted Apple-Parsnip Soup
3 large apples
1 pound parsnips
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Crème fraiche or sour cream
Slivered leeks, optional garnish
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel, core and thickly slice apples. Peel and coarsely chop parsnips. Cut roots from leeks and halve lengthwise. Rinse well and cut into 2-inch pieces. Combine apples, parsnips, leeks, oil, salt, white pepper and cayenne pepper in a large bowl, tossing until coated. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes or until apple mixture is tender and slightly browned around the edges.
Transfer apple mixture into a soup pot. Stir in broth and whipping cream. Cook over medium-low heat 20 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Puree soup with an immersion blender until smooth. Divide soup evenly into 7 cups and dollop each with crème fraiche. Garnish with slivered leeks, if desired. Serves 7.
The headnote says, “Bulgur is a whole-grain wheat product with a chewy texture and nutty flavor. A great gluten-free substitute for bulgur would be quinoa or rice. Cook either according to package directions and combine with remaining ingredients.”
Apple Tabbouleh Salad
1 cup bulgur wheat
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
4 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 green onions, minced
2 large apples, cored and chopped
Combine bulgur and broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain any excess broth; cool to room temperature or chill.
Whisk together oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and garlic in a large bowl. Add cooked bulgur, radishes, parsley, and green onion, tossing to coat.
Add apples to bulgur mixture, tossing to coat. Cover and chill until ready to serve. Makes 7 cups.
Ideal Apples: Golden Delicious apples work well in salads because they are less likely to brown. However, any crisp, subtly sweet apple that you enjoy eating out of hand will pair well with this salad. Also try Cripps Pink or Pink Lady, Honeycrisp or Gala.
The headnote says, “The fruity streusel filling (and topping) adds sweetness and texture to this loaf that can double as a treat for afternoon tea or a simple dessert.”
Apple-Cinnamon Quick Bread
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice or ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup half-and-half
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and allspice in a medium bowl, stirring until well blended. Peel, core and finely chop apples; place in bowl with brown sugar mixture. Add walnuts, stirring until blended; set aside.
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat 1 stick butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Add flour mixture to butter mixture, alternating with half-and-half. Pour half of batter into prepared loaf pan. Top with half of apple mixture. Pour remaining batter in loaf pan and top with remaining apple mixture.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack. Makes 1 loaf.
Ideal Apples: Use any crisp baking apple such as Granny Smith, Jonagold, Pink Lady or Fuji.
The headnote says, “These sausage patties are lean and flavorful. Be sure to finely dice or chop the apple because large pieces may cause the patty to fall apart when cooked.”
Chicken-Apple Breakfast Sausage
1 small apple
1 pound lean ground chicken
1 small shallot, minced
1 large egg
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Peel apple, if desired; core and very finely chop. Place in a large bowl. Add chicken, shallot, egg, poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, and allspice, stirring until well blended.
Scoop sausage mixture 1/4 cup at a time and form into patties. Place on a plate or baking sheet; cover and refrigerate until ready to prepare.
Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Cook in batches for 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and golden brown. Makes 1 dozen.
Note: To bake all together, brush the tops and bottoms of patties with olive oil and place on a nonstick aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes on each side.
Ideal Apples: Choose an apple that remains crisp and holds its shape when cooked, such as Fuji, Jonagold, or Pippin.
The headnote says, “Serve with bone-in chicken pieces, pork chops, or ham slices. Because the sauce contains sugar, bake or grill the meat until 10 minutes from being done. Brush all sides and continue cooking until sauce has caramelized and meat is coated.”
Apple Butter-Bourbon Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
2/3 cup Slow-Cooker Apple Butter (recipe follows) or purchased apple butter
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons bourbon
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5 to 7 minutes or until onion is tender.
Stir in juice, apple butter, vinegar, and Worcestershire. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until thickened. Stir in bourbon and cook 5 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 cups.
Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 pounds mixed variety of apples
Combine juice, sugars, cinnamon, salt, cloves and vanilla in a 6-quart slow-cooker.
Peel, core and thickly slice or chop apples and stir into juice mixture. Cook covered on low heat for 10 hours. Stir periodically, if convenient. Puree with immersion blender. If mixture is thinner than applesauce, uncover and cook on high heat until thick (mixture will thicken more once cool).
Prepare canning jars by sterilizing according to manufacturer’s directions.
Ladle apple butter into prepared jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe rims and apply lids and rings. Process jars in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars from canning pot and set aside to cool to room temperature. Jars will “ping” which indicates that lids are sealed. The center of each lid will not flex up and down when pressed.
Ideal apples: McIntosh, Cortland, Fuji, Braeburn or Rome, or choose spicier varieties like Winesap.
Stephen Fries, is a newly retired professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College in New Haven, Conn. He has been a food and culinary travel columnist for the past 14 years. He is a board member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. For more, go to stephenfries.com. This column was provided by Tribune News Service.