By Chef Judi Gallagher –
Apple season has arrived and I couldn’t be happier. A large variety of fresh crisp apples from the Midwest and New England are lining the grocery stores and produce stands. I have wonderful memories of picking apples on a cool autumn day and later sipping hot mulled cider as we peeled crisp tart apples in the kitchen for all kinds of recipes.
October is “high season” for a variety of apples. This year, due to the unseasonably hot summer around the country, apple trees blossomed early, meaning the apples came in weeks ahead of schedule. Honey Crisps are on the shelves now, about 3-4 weeks ahead of their normal appearance. There are great varieties for crunching as a snack or using in a family favorite recipe.
Jonathans are crisp, juicy and tart and a reliable all purpose apple. I like them best for cider, pies, and apple crisp. And Jonathans have a lot of crunch is that’s your snacking pleasure.
McIntosh is my personal favorite, very sweet in flavor and perfect for applesauce.
Granny Smith apples are characterized by an appealing green color and crisp texture. They hold up best in pies, strudels and baked apple dishes. Golden Delicious are a sweet, mild apple with a hint of spice that work best when preserving.
Red Delicious are the milder apple counterpart. Sweet and crunchy and perfect when sliced in a salad or served on a cheese plate. Moreover, since apples are high in fiber and contain a mineral that helps healthy bones – maybe you can keep the doctor away with an apple a day!
Baked Ginger Apples
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
6 Granny Smith apples (make sure they are the same size)
½ cup oatmeal( not instant)
¼ cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, smashed
3 tablespoons butter, cut into 6 teaspoon-size pieces
1 cup apple cider
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 325-degrees. Combine cinnamon, oatmeal, chopped pecans, crystallized ginger and sugar in a small bowl. Set aside.
Core apples. Make sure not to puncture the bottom of the apples so that the juices will remain. Remove skin from 1/2-inch around top of apples at the opening. Fill each cavity with the cinnamon-sugar and oatmeal mixture. Top each apple with a teaspoon of butter. Place apples in casserole dish and pour apple cider around them. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake 5-10 more minutes. Remove from heat, place in individual serving bowls and top with cream or ice cream and dried cranberries. Serve immediately. So delicious!