Enjoy the crunch of crisp apples in fall

This traditional autumn fruit can add a sweet or savory touch to meals while providing a nutritional boost

One of the most delicious fall fruits is apples.

This crisp, crunchy fruit is ideal to eat on its own or in salads, but 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 are best suited to baking — think Jonathans and Courtlands — others for cooking, including golden delicious, and still others for eating in hand, such as Honeycrisp.

Although red apples are what people visualize when the topic comes up, 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. After all, 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 as much as 40%.

Apples can also help increase the number of good bacteria in your 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.

Apples 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 and inspiredbycharm.com.

 

onceuponachef.com

 

Autumn Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup

 

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder, plus a bit more

1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

8 cups chicken broth

1-3/4 teaspoons salt

1 tart yet sweet apple, such as Honeycrisp or Fuji, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons honey

Freshly ground black pepper

 

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent but not brown. Add curry powder and cook a minute more.

Add carrots, sweet potatoes, chicken broth and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat about 25 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Stir in the apples and honey.

Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth and creamy. Alternatively, cool soup slightly, then puree in a blender in batches. Be sure to leave the hole in the lid open and cover with a kitchen towel. Season to taste with salt, pepper and more honey, if necessary.

Ladle soup into bowls and sprinkle with additional curry powder, if desired. As the soup sits, it will thicken so you may need to add a bit of water to thin it out.

Soup can be frozen for as long as three months.

Makes eight 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

8 ounces kale, stemmed, 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 the pan drippings into a small bowl. Set crispy pancetta aside 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 the salad is well dressed. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with crispy pancetta.

 

 

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

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 the 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 eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in 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 the chopped apples.

Scrape batter into a greased nine-inch springform pan and level 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 on a rack in the pan. Once cool, run a blunt knife around the edges and remove the sides of the pan. Using a fine sieve, dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.

Cake can be served warm or room temperature, plain or with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Cake can be frozen for as long as three months.

 

 

Baked Apple French Toast

 

For 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

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt

For 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

Maple syrup

 

Slice bread into 3/4-inch-thick slices.

To make French toast, whisk together eggs, half and half, maple syrup, bourbon, vanilla and salt in a large bowl. Dip each slice of challah 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 and set aside.

In a large sauté pan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add apples, brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Cook about eight minutes, stirring frequently, until apples are softened and the sugar-syrup is thickened. Spoon mixture evenly over the bread. If not baking immediately, cover the dish 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 another 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.

You can substitute apple cider or half and half for bourbon.

 

 

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

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup peeled, cored, and finely diced tart baking apples

 

Coat an 8-1/2-by-1/25-inch loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Line the long side of the pan with a parchment paper sling and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray again.

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 the eggs and sugar on medium speed about two minutes, until pale and creamy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the melted butter followed by the milk and vanilla. Mix just until evenly combined. Add flour, salt and baking powder and mix on low speed until evenly combined.

Add apples and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.

Spoon about two-thirds of the batter into the prepared pan, then sprinkle with about two-thirds of the brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Spoon remaining batter over top, followed by the remaining brown sugar-cinnamon mixture.

Using a butter knife, make a zig-zag through the batter once in each direction.

Bake in a 350-degree oven 50 minutes, until the bread is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool on a rack 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.

 

 

 

inspiredbycharm.com

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

 

1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 cup sliced apple.

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup red wine vinaigrette

 

Place Brussels sprouts onto a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper and Creole seasoning. Toss to make sure they are evenly coated, then arrange, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and mix in apple, dried cranberries and chopped pecans. Roast an additional 10 minutes.

Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

 

 

Apple Cider Sangria

 

1-1/2 cups cinnamon simple syrup

4 750-milliliter bottles Sauvignon Blanc or dry white wine

2 cups apple pie vodka

2 cups ginger brandy

4 cups apple cider

1 cup grapes, sliced in half

4 apples,  cubed

4 pears, cubed

8 to 10 cinnamon sticks

 

Combine ingredients in a large pitcher and stir. Cover and refrigerate two hours.

Serve in a glass with ice.

Makes 25 servings.

For cinnamon simple syrup, bring one cup sugar, two cups water, and one teaspoon ground cinnamon to a simmer over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Simmer about 10 minutes to create a thicker syrup, then cool completely.

 

 

Caramel Apple Cream Cheese Spread

 

8 ounces cream cheese

1/2 cup caramel sauce

4 tablespoons toffee bits

4 apples and/or pears, cored and thinly sliced

 

Place cream cheese on a serving plate. Use the back of a spoon to create a small well in the top. Spoon caramel sauce into the well, allowing some to drip over the sides. Sprinkle evenly with toffee bits.

Serve with sliced apple and pears.

 

 

 

Apple Cranberry Tart

 

For crust:

1 egg yolk

3 tablespoons half-and-half

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-1/4 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped

For filling:

3 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced

2 -1/2 cups fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon bourbon, optional

2/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/3 teaspoon salt

For streusel:

1/3 cup flour

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Additional cranberries, for garish

 

In a small bowl, mix egg yolk, half-and-half and vanilla. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Add butter, then use a pastry cutter to blend until mixture is the size of peas. Stir in egg mixture, then add chopped walnuts and mix with your hands to thoroughly combine. The dough will be crumbly.

Place in a deep 9.5-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press dough into the sides and bottom to create a 1/4-inch-thick crust. Prick the bottom with a fork, then place in the freezer for 10 minutes. Remove and bake in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, until crust just begins to brown.

Place apples, cranberries, bourbon, sugar, flour, orange zest, spices and salt in a large bowl. Mix to evenly combine, then place in the prepared crust.

In a small bowl, mixing the flour, brown sugar and salt, then add melted butter and vanilla. Combine with your fingers until the mixture begins to clump together. Sprinkle on top of the tart. Add cranberries for garnish.

Bake in a 350-degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, until apples are tender when poked with a fork. Before serving, cool tart until it is barely warm.

 

 

 

Chicken Apple Sausage One-Pan Pasta

 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound chicken apple sausage, sliced

1/2 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Granny Smith apple, chopped

2 cups chicken broth

1 14.5-ounce can tomatoes with green chilies

1/2 cup heavy cream

10 ounces pasta

Salt

Pepper

1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/4 cup green onions, sliced thinly, for garnish

 

In a large oven-safe pan or skillet, warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and sausage and cook about five minutes until brown. Add garlic and apples, cooking about one minute.

Add chicken broth, canned tomatoes, heavy cream, pasta, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the pasta is cooked al dente.

Remove the pan from the heat and add 1/2 cup cheese. Stir to combine. Sprinkle the top with remaining cheese. Broil until the cheese melted.

Serve garnished with sliced green onions.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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