Crunch! Give me crunch. Walking through piles of leaves. Eating apples. The little bit of tooth that defines the perfect French fry. Bacon. The delicious snap of a thin, carmelized-along-the-edge chocolate chip cookie. To intone Martha, these are good things.
Apples always remind me of brown-bagged lunches, with warm, wax paper-wrapped cheese sandwiches. And they make me think of Jo March, scribbling in her cold New England attic, her inky fingers clutching apples as she gnawed away, reviewing her latest lurid tale. Apples bring knowledge and comfort, and at this time of year, there is a profusion of reasons to eat them often.
It’s a little early for the strolls through crunchy leaves, but the autumnal yen of eating crunchy apples can be indulged right now. You need to motivate and travel to your favorite farmers’ markets this weekend and stock up on freshly picked treasures, because there are so many good things you can make! Of course, it is always gilding the proverbial lily to do anything to an apple but wash it and take a bite. Even pies seem unnecessarily vulgar. Does an apple really need brown sugar, cinnamon and dabs of butter to taste better? Of course not! But any iteration of an apple is a good thing!
There is romance and poetry in the 7500* known varieties of apples: Adirondack crab-apple, Albermarle Pippin, Allen’s Everlasting, Ambrosia, American Mother, Annie Elizabeth, Cameo, Captain Kidd, Cellini, Coeur de Boeuf, Gala, Granny Smith, Maiden’s Blush, McIntosh, Red Jonathan, Rhode Island Greening, Winesap, and Zuccalmaglio’s Reinette. You should go to this site and read some of the apples’ characteristics. The Zuccalmaglio description reads: “Flavored with tones of wild strawberry, quince, pineapple, ripe ear and a fine floral touch. Rough sticky skin flushed brown-red with faint red stripes and some russeting. Fine grained flesh.” Sheer poetry. http://www.orangepippin.com/apples
(*Thank you, Serious Eats! http://www.seriouseats.com)
Our first world problems include having very few varieties of apples at the grocery store. Which is why you need to get to your farmers’ market. I would rather rummage through 19 varieties grown locally, than choose from 5 kinds shipped 2,000 miles across the country – fruits chosen for their long shelf life and bruise resistance. Here is an interesting article about testing 10 different kinds of apples to see which is the best for pie: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2011/10/the-food-lab-what-are-the-best-apples-for-apple-pies-how-to-make-pie.html
Now here are just a few ideas of what you can do with all those delicious apples: applesauce, apple butter, apple fritters, apple cobbler, apple cookies, apple fritters, apple jelly, candy apples, apple crisp, mulled cider, apple cake, apple chutney, apple-tinis, cider doughnuts, apple pancakes, apple turnovers, apple stuffing, Waldorf salad, apple tarts, baked apples, apple brown Betty, apple muffins, and, of course, apple pie (deep-dish or regular).
This Apple Crumble is easy peasy and so good!
6 Golden Delicious or Braeburn apples, peeled, sliced into ¼ inch pieces
4 tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Grated zest of one orange
2/3 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup uncooked oats
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Mix apples, sugar, lemon juice and orange zest. In another bowl combine flour, oats, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss with butter. Combine with apple mixture in a buttered baking dish.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a nice big splotch of whipped cream. Yumsters. All of the taste of apple pie with no fragile or temperamental pie crust to contend with.
For a boozier cream try this:
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon good bourbon
This is a serious treatise on the awful syrup-y sweet cocktails of the 90s. It treats apples with respect and good bison grass vodka:
“Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard.”
― Walt Whitman