Fall officially arrived, though it has hinted its presence even earlier than the Autumnal Equinox here in Massachusetts. The chill in the air and the leafy greens losing its brightness and changing into muted yellows. Even in the markets fall can be felt with the emphasis on pushing specific items like apples, Halloween candies, and assorted gourds. Or perhaps there are other items seasonal to your area that you’re seeing in abundance this time of year. What are some quintessential fall associations for you?
Apples has been on my mind lately, though. Hearing friends’ adventures to apple picking orchards or farms, seeing pictures of the fruits of their labor, and their enjoying the outdoors among the foliage. And though I haven’t actually participated in any apple picking activity, nor have I bought the “fresh picked” 5 pound bag of apples from the market, I’ve still benefitted from the fruit… I’m the lucky recipient of the fruit of my friends’ labors. And, of course, I try to think of how I’m going to use these little gems up before it spoils. After all, that adage, “One rotten apple, spoils the bunch” is popular for a reason. It is true.
So one of the benefits of having fresh apples at the ready is being more prone to eating them fresh (skin and all), which is how I’ll get the most nutrition out of them. I’ve already cut up apples to eat plain, AND dressed with a little caramel dip, too. Yum. I’ve also cooked with it. I’ve sautéed little apple cubes into a spam + veggie noodle stir fry, as well as baked and made sweet things with it. Here are the other prime examples of my utilizing this fall fruit:
I saw a great recipe for an apple butter, which seemed somewhat quick and simple enough, and I wanted to try out making my own very tasty version! So I roasted about 7 medium Macintosh apples in the oven and mashed them together with the skins and core intact. The picture below is the result of mashing all that together into an almost puree. The recipe then called for using a food mill or sieve to strain out the skins and seeds. Looking back, I should’ve listened to the recipe tip when it said you can skin and core the apples if you don’t have a food mill. But I didn’t listen at the time and thought, “it can’t be that difficult to use a sieve to separate it.” It was some tedious work not having a food mill!
But after having separated out all the skin, seeds, and the miscellany unwanted, I got a nice smooth puree of roasted apple. I put it into a small sauce pan to continue to reduce, and mixed it with spices and added some molasses for more depth. The picture below is the end result of simmering and infusing with the spices. Yummy. Boy, was it tasty!
I poured that into some clean jars to be popped into the fridge for later consumption. Man, apple butter sure is good. I remember having had my first taste of apple butter years back in my college days. I attended a college in a more country setting that was surrounded by farmland (or at least it seemed compared to the big city). I ate at a cafe known for its popovers and it was served with a local farm’s apple butter. My tastebuds were changed from that moment!!! Popovers AND apple butter were a wonderful new novelty! 😀 I love food memory associations… my food memory always seem to stick with me, even when my other memories are a little scattered at times. (That shows you where my priorities lie…haha.)
And onto the next apple item I made: a crockpot apple pancake cake.
I made a crockpot blueberry pancake cake a couple weeks ago and thought it might be just as tasty with cinnamon spiced apples. Different, but just as tasty! I changed up my pancake batter a little by using some cornmeal. I may have used a bit too much baking soda in the recipe as it came out a little more dense than I would’ve liked, but it was still good. I softened up the recipe by topping it off with more cinnamon spiced apple sauce. Wilting some apples with cinnamon, ginger, sugar, nutmeg, and clove with some heat. The sugar makes a nice little sauce with the spices. Poured that over a slice of the apple pancake cake, and done.
Below is, yet, another apple reincarnation: a puff pastry ricotta & apple tartlet
These mini little puff pastry squares are carved to allow a filling of sweetened ricotta, a dollop of my homemade apple butter, then topped with an apple slice. I’ve done something similar before with a more summery twist, instead of apple butter, the sweet ricotta would be topped with summer berries. No need to make your own puff pastry when you can buy a freezer ready version. Tasty and easy!
All apple-d out yet? I’m still looking at another apple recipe. An apple and fennel soup. 😀 I’ll let you know if that happens…