Falling for Fall

I love fall. The colors, the flavors, the cooling weather. Any one of these would inspire a cook to take out the rolling pin and apple peeler and start mixing the cinnamon and melted butter. If you ask me if I like to bake, I often say it depends on what season. Autumn is for cider donuts, mulling cider and hayrides. The day after Labor Day (when I have hung up the white pants till next spring, (a very old New England tradition) I start. Granny Smith for pies and baked apples, MacIntosh apples for warm cinnamon applesauce with just a touch of brandy atop of pan seared pork chops and apple cake for the Jewish Holidays. Don’t even get me started on apples and pumpkin together. I make a quick fix of apple butter and pumpkin butter in my morning yogurt just to get that autumn taste lingering on the tongue like an earthy cabernet.

I will drive to the Cherry hut near Estes Park for their apple pies even if it is 2 hours out of my way. You get it now, so it is no surprise  then that one of my favorite cookbooks is The Apple Lover’s Cookbook by Amy Traverso. The book is loaded with tips, an encyclopedia of apples and wonderful recipes.

While most of this month includes my personal recipes and what I call “Mom influenced”, the Pumpkin Apple Custard in this bible of apples is a lovely desert served anytime of the year, made special the month of September as cooling skies bring heartier appetites and more room for dessert.


Pumpkin and Apple Custard

The Apple Lover’s Cookbook

3 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
¼ cup apple butter
½ cup evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon allspice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. and set a rack to the middle position. Butter the souffle dish. Fill a kettle with 4 cups water and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using a standing or hand held mixer, beat the eggs and sugar at medium-highspeed for 2 minutes or until thick and pale yellow. Gently fold in the remaining ingredients.

Pour the custard into the prepared dish and set in the baking pan. Transfer both to the oven, then fill the baking pan with enough of the simmering water to come halfway up the sides of the souffle dish. Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake until the center of the custard barely jiggles when shaken, about 30-40 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then serve warm or room temperature.



Chef Judi

For the Apples:

  • 8 medium Granny Smith apples peeled and cored
  • 8 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 7 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the Sauce:

  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup salted butter cubed


  1. Make Your favorite Pastry Dough or use premade Pillsbury crust:
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, stir together the granulated sugar and cinnamon; set aside.
  3. Assemble the Apples: Roll each portion of dough on a lightly floured work surface into a 7-inch square. Place an apple in the center of each square. Place 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon-sugar mixture in the center of each apple.
  4. Gently bring up the corners of the pastry to the center of each apple; pinch the edges to seal. Place the pastry-encased apples in a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  5. Make the Sauce: In a large saucepan, combine the brown sugar, water and butter over medium-high heat until it just begins to boil, stirring occasionally. Pour the sauce evenly over the apples.
  6. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown, basting occasionally with the sauce. These are best served warm immediately after baking.




Pecan Dressing Stuffed Apples

Chef Judi Gallagher

If you are entertaining a small group, making the turkey dressing and stuffing them into Cortland apples to roast is a beautiful presentation and extra apple boost of flavor.

This recipe serves 8

8 ounces thick cut applewood smoked bacon
1 stick unsalted Irish butter
3 cups peeled, cored and diced Honeycrisp apples
2 cups diced onions
1 cup diced celery
2 shallots minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 loaf French bread break apart pieces and leave uncovered on sheet pan overnight to stale.
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup apple cider
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup fresh minced flat leaf parsley
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 rosemary sprigs, remove stems and mince rosemary
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 beaten eggs
8 Cortland apples

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with melted butter

Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to plate with a paper towel to absorb extra fat.

Reserve 2 TBSP. bacon drippings. Add butter to pan. Sautee apples, onions, shallots in butter and bacon fat until softened about 15 minutes

Add wine and reduce liquid.

Combine apple mixture with stale bread pieces, chopped bacon, chicken broth and cider, pecans, beaten eggs, herbs and seasonings.

Set aside to cool for 5 minutes

Cut the tops of Cortland apples and scoop out inside. Fill with dressing and bake covered with aluminum foil for 10 minutes

Remove foil and dot stuffed apples with a drizzle of melted butter. Continue to bake until apples are tender.

Note: make sure you bake at least 25 minutes to ensure the egg mixture is cooked.

Option: bake dressing in large casserole dish


Apple Pecan Cake with Cream Cheese Caramel frosting

Chef Judi and Riva Cooper

My Mom used to make the BEST applesauce cake with raisins every Jewish New Year. Since I didn’t like frosting, she would just leave the cake to rest as it was.

My variation is using shredded apples instead of applesauce.

2 cups sugar
½ cup plus 2 TBPS. Irish or French grass-fed butter softened
2 large eggs
2 Teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 Teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon allspice
2 cups chopped pecans plus some for topping over frosting
½ teaspoon salt
2 Pounds Granny Smith of Honey crisp- peeling, cored and shredded

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter and flour a metal 13 x 9 pan by 2 inches.
Beat sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla extract

Mix flour, baking soda and powder and salt and cinnamon and all spice. Slowly add to incorporate. Add 2 pounds shredded peeled apple and stir with spoon

(Optional one cup raisins and one cup shredded coconut


1 cup pecans chopped
8-ounce cream cheese (I only use Philly)
Swirls of caramel sauce, IF DESIRED. My fave is “Lick my Spoon” Caramel sauce if you aren’t making homemade
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
2 cups powdered sugar extra xxx refined
2 Tablespoons pure unsalted butter
Blend all together and frost over chilled cake



A graduate of Johnson & Wales, Judi has managed restaurants and owned restaurants in the northeast and was the founder of a successful dessert company. Today, she is a sought-after restaurant consultant, TV cook on the ABC affiliate in her hometown, and culinary editor of a city magazine. Her personal passions are culinary travel to exotic places and holiday cooking in her home for huge gatherings of friends and relatives. Her guilty pleasure? Bruce Springsteen concerts. “I follow him around the country and have for years,” she admits. “But, in every city where Bruce sings, I do check out new restaurants and talk to up and coming chefs. I want all the food news I can get.”
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