Tuesday, September 22, 2009

An Apple a Day....

The period of time between summer and winter is clearly dictated by one thing: apple season. No, no, not fall. Because fall is all pumpkins and corn and turkeys and so forth. Apples have their own season. They are too delicious not to. I had bought a tote of apples to kick off the season...didn't really know what I wanted to do with them but c'mon, I couldn't just leave the store without them! It would be cruel!

Then, a couple of days ago, I was giving away a free sample of my Vegan Triple Chocolate Ice Cream and received a bag of organic apples in return. Hello!? Awesome! With two totes of apples in my fridge, I clearly needed a plan. Obviously pie had to happen, but what the heck else could I do? It is that dilemma that inspired this entry. Four absolutely fantastic things to do with apples. I'm not saying they are the best things, just some recipes that make me wish that apple season was year 'round. (Yes, I know I can buy apples anytime, but you can only go local apple picking in apple season, duh!)

Apple Pie
For this you need a killer crust recipe. I never follow a recipe for the guts of the pie because honestly? As long as you have apples, sugar, and cinnamon you're pretty much set. Sometimes I throw in some ginger or allspice or nutmeg. Maybe put some butter under the crust or try my grandma's new trick: marichino cherries. The point is, if the vessel (aka the crust) is nasty, no one really cares about what is inside.

2 1/4 c. AP flour
2/3 c. shortening
8-10 T. water
1/2 t. salt

Combine the dry ingredients, cut the shortening into the flour, add water. Roll on generously floured surface. Makes top and bottom crust.

Quite simple, but it melts my heart every time. No joke.

Apple Cider Jelly
Alright, so this one will be more difficult to make if you don't press your own cider (I mean really, why don't you? Geez). My grandmother used to always have homemade cider kicking around so this jelly was a regular part of my existence. You can go by some cider at the store if you must, but make sure it's real apple cider and not just apple juice.

Waldorf Salad
Alright, not everyone is a salad nut, but this one is really to die for. We sell one at Whole Foods that has wheat berry in it (the little kernels of wheat) and it is phenomenal. Waldorf salad traditionally consists of apple, walnuts, celery, and dried fruit. It can have either a creamy or vinagraitte dressing, and is great over salad, grains like wheat berry or farro, or just by itself.

Caramel Apples
After you enjoy a beautiful, healthy salad, why not indulge? Or...why not skip the salad and go right for the best part of any meal.......dessert ;) They actually make sheets of caramel now that you just wrap around the apple and bake until it melts. I call that cheating, personally. Heat up a sauce pot of 2c. sugar mixed with a few tablespoons of sugar (you want it to be the consistency of sand) and use a pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush the sugar crystals from the sides of the pot. Continue to cook (DO NOT STIR OR TOUCH THE SUGAR!) until it starts to change color. Once it is a deep..you guessed it...caramel color, turn off the heat and immediately throw in a few tablespoons of butter. NOW you can stir! Once the butter is incorporated, dip in your beautiful washed apples (make sure you use a utinsil and don't burn your hands! Caramel is hotter than boiling water! Place them on some parchment to cool and enjoy once the caramel has hardened completely.

What are some of your favorite apple recipes?

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