Archive for Apples

Apple Pound Cake

appleinorchard

Every autumn we take a trip to the apple orchard.  It’s a lovely outing, and we always top it off with  lunch at Victory Brewpub, so there’s something in it for everyone.  We pick a lot of apples.  I am not conversant in bushels and pecks, or how many make up a boatload, but we come home with far more apples than we can possibly consume.  Of course, we share them with friends and neighbors, and I concoct a variety of recipes that include apples.   A recent success was a this Apple Pound Cake.  (Trust me, looks aren’t everything.)crackedapplecake

I got the recipe years ago from a secretary at my husband’s firm–it was TYPED on an index card, so that shows you its age.  recipe

 

But it stood the test of time.  Two errors on my part:

1.  I didn’t allow the cake to cool sufficiently, so when I dumped it from the Bundt pan, it cracked.

2.  When I put the layer of apples into the batter, I didn’t mix them in properly.  They kind of created a barrier between the top and bottom of the cake, so it didn’t completely hold together–also contributing to the crack.

Despite their derisive comments, however, my family gobbled it up.

Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Helen, who has long since left the ranks of the secretarial pool and risen to a leadership position in IT.  And she’s still a brilliant baker.

Apple Pound Cake

3 cups flour

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 sticks butter

1 stick margarine (I omitted margarine and used 3 sticks butter in my version)

6 eggs

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

3 tsp baking powder

3 apples, peeled, cored, and chopped

Grease and flour a Bundt Pan, set aside.  Mix all ingredients except apples in large bowl.  Beat on medium for 10 minutes until totally blended and increased in volume–it gets a bit fluffy.  Pour half the batter in the pan, top with apples, and press them into to batter.  Top with remaining batter, and tamp down lightly to be sure apples are integrated (this will avoid the unsightly crack you see in my cake, above.)

Put cake in COLD oven and turn to 350.  Bake 1 1/2 hours until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool, and remove from pan.

 

Braised Red Cabbage and Apples

 

Tasty Braised Red Cabbage with Apples, Onions and Smoked Bacon

Red Cabbage.

The moment I start cooking with red cabbage then I know it’s time to put the heating on and don a heavy sweater.  Braised red cabbage is a warming filling Winter food.  And during cooking it fills the house with its sweet and pungent aroma.  I prefer red to white cabbage – except for in Summer ‘slaws…

I’ve not yet tried a Borscht soup (anyone got a recipe?), but that’s on my ‘to do’ list for this Winter.

In our family we were introduced to braised cabbage by Gerda, a friend of the family, a German transplant who moved to London as a teen to au pair and never went back to her homeland. During the 70s when we thought an avocado or frozen black forest gateau was an exotic food, can you imagine the impact Gerda had on her circle of friends?  The food may be commonplace now (various krauts, sour cream and cucumber side dishes, veal escalope and so on) but it wasn’t then!

This is my adapted version of her recipe.  Being German, she loved her pickles and would braise the red cabbage in cider vinegar which gives it quite a bite.  Being a British transplant, now living in Philly, I’ve gone for a more anemic version — one which uses kid-friendly Motts apple juice in lieu of the vinegar.  This combination produces a less-pickly version that is still packed with chunks of apple, caramelized onions and smoked bacon…ooooh and plenty of garlic.

This side dish is the perfect accompaniment to any roast meat or works equally well eaten cold in a roast meat sandwich with salad greens.  It just cries out for meat in any form…

This is one of those recipes you can prep in 15 minutes, then dump into a slow cooker and forget about it for the rest of the afternoon.

 

Excuse the arty out of focus camera effects…that wasn’t deliberate.

Recipe: 

1 yellow onion

2 cloves of garlic, more if you’d like it to be super flavorsome

1 small red cabbage, sliced finely

2 eating apples

2 slices of bacon

¼ stick of butter

1 tbsp of oil

2 cups of apple juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

 

  1. Dice onions and apples and chop garlic cloves finely, dice bacon, sauté all ingredients in a pan with oil and butter
  2. Add chopped cabbage and sweat down for 10-15 minutes
  3. Season to taste
  4. Transfer cabbage conconction to a slow cooker; set to high and cook for 2-3 hours until cabbage has softened and absorbed much of the liquids

It’s that simple

 

Apple Custard Tart

Having gone apple picking last weekend and given into my uncontrollable urge to fill the bushel bags with reckless abandon, I have a serious glut of apples in my house.  I’ve shared them generously and forcefully with friends, neighbors, and total strangers, and we’ve consumed a goodly share ourselves.  But the fridge is still overstocked with apples.

So I’ve been actively seeking apple recipes, and was delighted to find this brown butter apple tart in Bon Appetit this month.  I reviewed the recipe and was dismayed to discover that the crust was a two-day, rolling pin affair–I loathe rolling dough.

“Forsooth”, said I, “My magic dough will fare just as well.”  And it did.  One other simplification tactic I used:  no need to core the apples and slice them into rings as BA suggests.  This is a total pain, and risks slicing fingers as well as apples.  I started with this thankless enterprise and promptly abandoned it.  Just cut the apples as you normally would but make thinner slices.

The baked custard filling of this tart gives it more depth and richness than a typical pie, crisp or tart.  It starts with vanilla beans and butter–but if you don’t have vanilla beans, you can melt and brown the butter solo and add vanilla extract to the egg custard mixture in the bowl.

For the crust:

Magic Dough:

2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups flour

Beat with mixer til dough forms crumbly bits the size of lentils.  Press dough into bottom and up sides of 9 inch tart pan and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and proceed with brown butter apple tart recipe.

Note:  This is the same dough we use in our raspberry bars, and fruit tarts.  It can also be rolled into logs and sliced into shortbread cookies.  See why we call it magic?

Apple Almond Crisp Pie

Fall is synonymous with apples in all their glory.  A friend went apple picking with her family and deposited a hundred weight of oversized apples on my stoop this weekend, so I decided to get busy and bake.

First up…an apple almond crisp (which is similar to an apple crumb or crumble, as we’d say in the U.K.).  There’s not much difference between the various recipes.

On examination, the apple crisp tends to have a coarser texture than a crumble because it often includes oats and nuts — so the end result is chewier and crunchier. which I prefer.

In the version I used, I started with a basic apple crumble mixture from www.recipetips.com, but instead of using 100% flour, I substituted 50% of the recommended quantity with a mixture of almond meal and also quaker oats.  (This idea of adding finely ground almond flour, or meal, came from some foodie friends on Facebook. Thanks again for the tip.)

If you are partial to fruit crumb pies, then it’s worth trying Jack McDavid’s Blueberry Peach pie – an absolute winner!

In the meantime, this is how I got on.

Before….

And after….

…only there wasn’t much after.

The crumble disappeared in a flash!

Game Dinner, German-Style

A five course dinner featuring game hunted by our neighbor Gavin and cooked by his lovely wife Susanne.  Now THAT sounded interesting, and we had the good fortune to be invited.

The hostess, who hails from Munich, smashed all of my negative stereotypes about German cooking.  She offered a variety of dishes which she said would have been typically served at any restaurant in her native land.  When all was said and done, I was ready to book a flight.

We started with consomme of wild pheasant with semolina nocherl.  This mimicked the best version of matzoh ball soup imaginable.  The nocherl was a light, doughy dumpling floating in a rich, flavorful broth, generously laden with chunks of pheasant and vegetables.  A wonderful way to start the meal.

We then proceeded on to a salad–butter lettuce with walnuts, cranberries and gruyere cheese.  Sublime.

The third course moved meat-ward again:  fetuccine with venison sausage and pear ragu.  This was a Marc Vetri recipe from his book Il Viaggo de Vetri which the hostess assured us was simple.   Simple or not, it was absolutely delicious; the perfect interplay between the robust sausage and the sweet pear with the cheese providing the ideal salty counterpoint.

When Susanne served the main course, filets of venison with spaetzle and red cabbage, she told us that virtually every restaurant in Munich had this on its menu.  I bet they’re not as good as hers.   She also told us an interesting linguistic fact:  in German, ‘red’ cabbage is translated as ‘blue’ cabbage.    Technically, I guess it’s purple, so we’re both half accurate.  As to the spaetzle, those tiny nuggets of light, doughy carbohydrate heaven set a new standard for noodles.  

And just when I thought it could get no better,  dessert arrived.  Susanne presented a stunning rendition of her grandmother’s recipe for millirahmstrudel with vanilla sauce.  This apple strudel was staggeringly good–the pastry was paper-thin, light and crispy, the apples a perfect sweet/tart foil, soft from cooking but with sufficient crunch left to evoke their natural form, topped with fresh, homemade whipped cream and doused with vanilla sauce.  Oh, the sauce.  Picture the best creme anglaise you’ve ever had, then make it 5 times better, and you’ll create an image of Susanne’s vanilla sauce.  That type of sauce is tricky; often it has an unfortunate eggy viscosity that is downright repulsive, resulting from a lack of skill on the part of the cook.  This version, thankfully, suffered no such woeful fate, nor did we.   I really had to restrain myself from licking the plate.

We really love our neighbors!  Have you been to any FAB dinner parties lately?   Do tell….

Apples to Their Core

And the winner is…..Sonia Grasse:  “whichever way you slice it, it’s going to be a Gala affair!”  This was clever, witty and most importantly, promoted the Valentine to the Market Event, which is, after all, our primary purpose.  Runners up were Marla Neeson:  “Is Barack seeking seeds of wisdom? No, just the ingredients for a killer apple pie.” and Amanda Aslansan, whose off-the-record entry was hilarious but unprintable if we wish to retain our PG rating.  Her official entry “Don’t upset the apple cart’ wasn’t too shabby either.

Fantabulous Fall recipe from October’s issue of Bon Appetit. An apple pie with a crunchy topping. Not only does the recipe call for tart Granny Smith apples, but also the apples themselves are sweated down in apple cider. The market is awash with this gorgeous ingredient currently. Stock up at Iovines,  or the Fair Food Farmstand and delight your friends with this confection.

The poll results?  Apple Martinis are disgusting, by an overwhelming majority of 66%.


And we leave you with a few interesting apple facts….

  • The ancient Greeks loved the apple. Instead of slipping a ring onto a fair maiden’s finger, a Greek warrior was supposed to toss an apple to the – ah – apple of his eye. If she caught the fruit, the act was as good as an engagement.
  • In Medieval England, an autumnal celebration centered around the fermented fruit of the apple tree and the almost Bacchanalian merriment that would ensue. (The supposed purpose was to ensure a bountiful harvest, or so the story goes.)
  • The Adam’s apple is so-called because of a popular idea that it was created when the forbidden fruit got stuck in Adam’s throat when he swallowed it.
  • Twenty-five percent of the apples harvested in the US are exported. That’s big business. Not surprisingly, Philly’s own Ben Franklin started it. He had Newton Pippin apples exported from America to London in 1768.


We’re spicing up the next few weeks with chili peppers.    Visit and help us heat things up!