Apples, Fall's Bounty
Almost everywhere in the fall, roadside stalls and farmers' markets display their wares. Jars of pickles and preserves share tables with home baked apple pies and brown, crusty bread. Fat, purple eggplant jostle long green and white leeks. Squash of varied shape, size and hue share table space with knobby, decorative gourds.
And there are apples! Sometimes there are tawny Russets with rough skins, or shiny Cortlands and Empires. Over on the side there might be a basket of McIntoshes, the grand daddy of many apple varieties.
At the turn of the century, thousands of different varieties of apples were grown in North America and many more in other parts of the world. Sadly, the demands of the market mean that those of us who live in large urban areas have access to only five or six varieties. But in the fall the true apple enthusiast might well find, driving down country roads, that a small out-of-the-way orchard will still be growing a treasure. It's worth exploring! You might find a Gravenstein or a Tolman Sweet.
Buy your apples with care. They should have been ripened on the tree and picked and handled carefully. They should be firm to the touch and smell of their own fresh perfume. Buy McIntosh for early eating and making applesauce. Courtland, Winesap, and Sandow varieties are all delicious to eat raw and fine for cooking. So are Ida Reds and Granny Smiths.
Try different apples for stuffing pork, or for making fruit compote. Garnish the pork with apple quarters cooked for a few moments in butter and serve it with garlic roasted potatoes and a crisp, green vegetable. Add dates to the compote if you like and more lemon, but it's best when it's good and gingery.
Making a pie using simple short pastry is far easier than you could imagine. Have fun finding the apples that best suit your palate and dress them up with cinnamon or cloves, or drizzle orange or lemon juice over them. Take time to enjoy the taste of fall's bounty.
roast loin of pork with sage and apples
3 lb. Loin of pork; boned and well trimmed
3 T. unsalted butter
3T. Extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup coarse fresh bread crumbs
1 T. fresh sage leaves, or to taste, chopped (or 1 t. dried)
half or one whole apple to taste; peeled, cored and chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Have your butcher halve the pork loin, or use two loins, and tie the two pieces loosely together so that the sage and apple stuffing can be put between them.
2. Heat 2T. Of oil and 2 T. of butter in a heavy skillet. Add the breadcrumbs. Add onion and cook it until it is transparent.
3. To the breadcrumb mixture add sage, apple, salt, and pepper and cook them well together for 3 or 4 minutes.
4. Remove stuffing from the skillet and allow it to cool.
5. Place it between the two pieces of pork loin and tie the two together firmly.
6. Heat the remaining oil and butter in the skillet and brown the loin well on all sides. Do not salt it.
7. Transfer the loin to roasting pan and roast it uncovered in the center of an oven preheated to 325 degrees allowing 25 to 30 minutes per pound of cooking time.
harvest apple pie
1½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup finely ground almonds
1 T. granulated sugar
½ t. baking powder
¾ cup softened, unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
½ cup ground almonds
2 T. all purpose flour
3 T. unsalted butter, softened
6 or 8 apples, depending on size, preferably Spies or Wolf Rivers
3 T. unsalted butter
1. Make the pastry by combining the flour, ground almonds, sugar, baking powder and butter until they are well mixed together, and the mixture is not sticky.
2. Press the mixture into 10 inch pie dish, or flan dish with a removable base, with your fingers, until it is evenly distributed and then spread the crumble mixture evenly over it.
3. Peel, core and quarter the apples.
4. Hold the apple quarters firmly on a cutting board and cut them into thin slices with a sharp knife.
5. Fan the sliced quarters out decoratively over the crumble mixture.
6. Dot the remaining butter over the pie and place it in the center of an oven preheated to 425 degrees.
7. After 10 minutes reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes
8. Remove the pie from the oven, allow it to cook, then brush it with melted apple jelly.
Variation: For a custard-like topping, beat an egg together with 3 or 4 T. of milk/cream, pouring the mixture over the apples 10 minutes before the pie is done. Return it to the oven to bake until the custard has set. You can make the glaze by heating 3 or 4 T. of apricot jam, straining it and brushing the cooled pie with it.
gingered compote of dried and fresh fruits
2 T. fresh ginger, peeled and cut into julienne strips
2 cups water
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup brown sugar, or to taste
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup dried figs, stem end removed
1 cup dried apple rings
2 fresh apples, cored and quartered
2 fresh pears, cored and cut into large chunks
1. Combine the water, lemon juice, sugar and ginger and bring them to a gentle simmer in a heavy pot or kettle. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes
2. Add the dried fruit, cover the pot and simmer it gently for about 15 minutes or until the fruit is fairly soft.
3. Add fresh apples and pears, cover the pot again and simmer the compote for another 5 minutes
4. Take all the fruit out of the liquid. Put fruit into a serving dish and allow it to cool.
5. Turn up the heat under the liquid and simmer it uncovered until it has thickened slightly and then pour it over the fruit.
6. Garnish compote with thinly sliced lemon and serve it with unsweetened whipped cream.
potatoes roasted with garlic and lemon
3 or 4 large potatoes, washed, dried and sliced lengthwise
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup water
½ cup lemon juice, preferably freshly squeezed
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 T. fresh oregano, coarsely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1. Pour half of the olive oil into a shallow baking dish.
2. Place the potato slices into the dish and shake them in the oil
3. Mix the rest of the oil, water, and lemon juice together and pour them over the potatoes.
4. Sprinkle the oregano over the potatoes.
5. Place the dish in the center of an oven preheated to 450 degrees.
6. Bake uncovered for an hour. Garnish with a little black pepper before serving.