By Chef Judi Gallagher –
If you alphabetize your favorite recipes and keep them in a file on your computer or in a time-worn box on the pantry shelf, this is the month you stop at the letter A. It’s apple month, time to celebrate the fruit that has been America’s favorite since Colonial times when apples were pressed into hard cider and transformed into economic prosperity. Apples in the old days weren’t usually for eating, they were for making into cider. Just as well, they weren’t so tasty anyway.
Today, however, there are some 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States (7,500 grown worldwide) and they have specific uses based on flavor profile and texture. There are apples for snacking, baking, stewing and saucing. There are apples for making salads, soups, desserts and savory dishes. And yes, there are plenty of varieties for making hard cider. The apple is a member of the rose family and it’s as good for you as it is delicious. A medium apple has only 80 calories and is fat, sodium and cholesterol free.
Apple recipes are everywhere this month. The ones here are personal favorites and so easy to make. My favorite pie is apple (although I don’t claim to make a good one) and my favorite afternoon snack is a juicy crisp apple. What’s your favorite kind of apple?
(4 small servings)
4 Honeycrisp or Fuji apples, peeled and sliced thin
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoons cornstarch
sprinkling of ground all spice
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small cubes
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread sliced apples across the baking sheet. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, all spice, and salt. Toss with fingers. Top with cubes of butter and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, until golden and bubbly to your desired doneness. Remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly and serve on top of ice cream or oatmeal. Store in an airtight container for up to up to 3 days. Reheat in a small pan over low heat on the stovetop.
Bourbon Baked apples
6 large baking apples. I use Granny Smith or Honeycrisp
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 tablespoon butter
Vanilla gelato or ice cream
1 cup granola or toasted slivered almonds
Wash and core apples, then remove a 1 inch strip of peel around the middle of each apple; place in a 2-quart shallow baking dish. Combine brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl; fill the center of each apple and dot with 1/2 teaspoon of the butter. Splash with bourbon. Add just enough water to baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish; bake, uncovered, at 350° for about 30 minutes, or until apples are tender. Baste with juices occasionally. Serve the apples warm with a scoop of soft gelato and top with toasted slivered almonds or granola.
Warm Apple Cabbage
(this dish is as colorful as it is delicious. Serve with pork or chicken)
1 Gala, Braeburn or Stayman apple cut into matchsticks
2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium head purple cabbage, chopped, about 12 cups
3/4 cup apple cider
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
3/4 cup raisins
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute. Add cabbage, raisins, caraway seeds, and apple cider and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apples and cook, covered, until cabbage is tender, about 5 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and cook, stirring for three minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.