Enjoy the crisp crunch of apples this fall

Be they red, yellow or green, this delicious autumn fruit packs a ton of nutrition as well as flavor


One of the most delicious fall fruits is apples.

This crisp, crunchy fruit is ideal to eat on its own or in salads, but it is also delicious cooked in entrees, side dishes and sauces, and baked into desserts.

Try apples and pork for a classic dinner combination, or apple crisps and pies for a delightful end to a meal. Applesauce is a fall tradition, as is apple cider.

To add complexity to a dish, use a number of different varieties. Just remember that some apples such as  Jonathans and Courtlands are best suited to baking, others for cooking, including golden delicious, and still others for eating in hand, such as Honeycrisp.

Although red apples are what people visualize, this fruit also comes in shades of green and yellow — think Granny Smith and golden delicious apples.

Apples not only taste great but also provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, with health benefits that make them a super food. As the old saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Just remember to eat the peel as well as the flesh, since many nutrients are found in the skin.

According to the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association, eating an apple a day for four weeks can help lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, levels by as much as 40%.

Apples can also help increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, the association states.

The freshest apples are available from September through November, although most varieties are available year-round. Purchase colorful apples that are firm with a fresh, not musty, fragrance and smooth skin without bruises or gouges.

Some apples have dry, tan or brown-colored areas on the skin, called scald, that typically have little or no effect on the flavor.

It’s generally recommended that before using, lightly scrub apples in cool water to remove the wax-like coating and any leftover insecticides.

Don’t forget to brush lemon juice onto cut surfaces to prevent them from quickly turning brown.

Make sure to store your apples appropriately. Apples ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than when kept refrigerated.

They should be stored in a cool, dark place. If you don’t have a cold cellar, place apples in a plastic bag and store them in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator.

Following are apple recipes from onceuponachef.com.



Curried Cauliflower and Apple Soup

For soup:
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tart yet sweet apple, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and roughly chopped
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons honey, plus more to taste
1/3 cup heavy cream
For curried apple garnish:
1 tart yet sweet apple, such as Fuji or Honeycrisp, peeled and finely diced
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon curry powder

    Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook four minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the curry powder and cinnamon and cook a few minutes more.
    Add the cauliflower, apple, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and cook about 20 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.
    Purée soup with an immersion blender until completely smooth. Stir in honey and heavy cream. Bring soup to a simmer, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more honey. Keep warm.
    For garnish, toss diced apples with curry powder. Ladle soup into bowls and top with a spoonful of curried apples.
    You may use a standard blender to purée the soup but do not to fill the jar more than halfway, leave the hole in the lid open and cover loosely with a dish towel to allow the heat to escape. Pour blended soup into a clean pot.
    The soup can be frozen, without the cream, for as long as three months. Defrost soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours, then reheat on the stovetop over medium heat until hot. Once heated through, add the cream and bring to a simmer before serving.
    Makes six servings.


Apple Crisp

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
6 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2-1/2 pounds tart baking apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch thick

    In a food processor, pulse flour with the brown sugar, 1/4 cup sugar and salt until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer crumbs to a bowl and stir in pecans and oats. Set aside.
    In a medium bowl, toss apples with the remaining sugar. Transfer to a shallow buttered two-quart baking dish and cover with oat topping. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes, until the apples are tender when pierced and topping is toasted. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
    The crisp can be frozen tightly covered for as long as three months. Before serving, reheat, uncovered, in a 300-degree oven until heated through and crisp on top.
    Makes six servings.


Kale, Apple and Pancetta Salad

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, diced
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small head radicchio, shredded
1 8-ounce bunch kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
2 tart-yet-sweet apples, such as Granny Smith or Honeycrisp, sliced into thin matchsticks
3/4 cup pecans, toasted if desired

    Combine olive oil and pancetta in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until pancetta is golden and crispy. Strain pan drippings into a small bowl and set crispy pancetta to the side to cool.
    Add Champagne vinegar, maple syrup, salt and pepper to the pan drippings and whisk well.
    Combine radicchio, kale, apples and pecans in a large bowl. Toss while adding the dressing, little by little, until salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.
    Makes four servings.


Baked Apple French Toast

For French toast:
1-pound loaf challah or raisin challah
5 large eggs
1-1/2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional, replace with apple cider or half-and-half, if desired)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
For apple topping:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
For serving:
Confectioners’ sugar and/or maple syrup

    Slice bread into 3/4-inch-thick slices.
    In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla and salt. Dip each slice of bread into the mixture for about five seconds, then arrange in an overlapping pattern in a buttered 9-by-13-inch or three-quart baking dish. Be sure the entire bottom of the dish is covered with bread. Pour any remaining custard over the bread. Set aside.
    For topping, melt butter over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add apples, brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook about eight minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are softened and sugar-syrup is thickened. Spoon apples and all the sugar-syrup evenly over bread. If not baking immediately, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
    Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in a 350-degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking 20 minutes, until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and, using a fine sieve, dust with the confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple syrup.
    Makes eight servings.


Chunky Homemade Applesauce

4 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar, packed
Ground cinnamon, for serving (optional)

    Place apples in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Scatter brown sugar and chunks of butter evenly over top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake in a 400-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, tossing once halfway through, until apples are very tender.
    Mash apples with a potato masher or fork. Taste. If the applesauce is too tart, add more brown sugar, little by little.
    Applesauce may be frozen in an airtight container for as long as three months.


Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup peeled, cored, and finely diced tart baking apples (preferably Granny Smith)

    In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Set aside.
    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or beaters, beat eggs and sugar on medium speed about two minutes, until pale and creamy.
    With the mixer on low, gradually add melted butter, followed by the milk and vanilla. Mix just until evenly combined.
    Add flour, salt and baking powder to the batter and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
    Add apples to the batter and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.
    Spoon about 2/3 of the batter into an 8-1/2-by-4-1/2-inch loaf pan that’s been coated with cooking spray, lined along the long side with a parchment sling and coated lightly with cooking spray.
    Sprinkle about 2/3 of the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of the batter. Spoon the remaining batter over top, followed by the remaining brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl through the batter once in each direction.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven about 50 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let bread cool on a rack for about 30 minutes, then use the parchment sling to lift the bread out of the pan and onto the rack.
    Cool completely before slicing. Store loosely covered with aluminum foil on the countertop for as long as four days.

Brussels Sprout Salad With Apples, Walnuts and Parmesan

1-1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts, shredded
1 large tart-sweet red apple, such as Honey Crisp, cored and chopped
3 tablespoons minced shallots
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup walnuts, toasted if desired, and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup thinly sliced and crumbled Parmigiano-Reggiano

    In a large bowl, combine shredded Brussels sprouts, apples, shallots, olive oil, vegetable oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Toss well. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to four hours.
    When ready to serve, toss walnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano with the salad. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary, then serve.
    Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for one or two days. The flavors will dull the longer the salad sits so add a little more cider vinegar and vegetable oil to perk it up, if needed.    
    Makes eight servings.


French Apple Cake

1 cup flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling over cake
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons dark rum
2 baking apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Confectioners’ sugar, optional

    In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
    Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar about three minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and rum. Don’t worry if the batter looks grainy at this point.
    Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Using a rubber spatula, fold in chopped apples.
    Scrape the batter into a greased nine-inch springform or cake pan and even the top. Sprinkle evenly with one tablespoon sugar.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven about 40 minutes, until the cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
    Cool cake in the pan on a rack. Once cool, run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake. If using a springform pan, remove the sides. If using a cake pan, carefully invert the cake onto the rack, then gently flip the cake over and place right-side-up on a platter. Using a fine sieve, dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.
    Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
    Cake can be frozen for as long as three months. After it is completely cooled, wrap tightly with aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Thaw overnight on the countertop before serving.
    Makes six to eight servings.



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