Randall Benton / rbenton@sacbee.com

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    In season in California: August to December

    How to choose good apples: The best are fresh, crisp and juicy. A fresh apple feels firm and heavy for its size. The skin should show no dents or bruises. Avoid those that smell musty.

    Taste: Apples have a moderately sweet, refreshing flavor and a tartness that is present to greater or lesser degree depending on the variety. For example, Golden and Red Delicious apples are mild and sweet, while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart. Tart apples, which best retain their texture during cooking, are often preferred for cooked desserts like apple pie, while Delicious apples and other sweeter varieties like Braeburn and Fuji apples are usually eaten raw.

    Health benefits: Apples are mostly fiber, water and sugar, which makes them a great fat-free energy booster. They also contain a moderate amount of vitamin C and several antioxidants. Several studies have found a correlation between apples' strong antioxidant benefits and a lower risk of lung cancer. The skin of the apple is unusually rich in nutrients, so consider leaving the skin on even in recipes that call for peeled apples. One medium apple that is about three inches in diameter contains about 95 calories, 3 from fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber and 19 grams of sugar.

  • Apple pie salad Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes for the streusel Serves 4 This salad features a brown butter vinaigrette and a pumpkin seed streusel. Adapted from a recipe from Ginger's Kitchen, a blog at www.food52.com. INGREDIENTS

    Streusel:

    1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds 1/3 cup rolled oats 1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces Vinaigrette: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 small shallot, minced Juice of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons) Few pinches finely chopped fresh marjoram or fresh thyme Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    Salad:

    1 head red leaf lettuce, washed and torn into bite-size pieces 1 sweet-tart apple, cored and sliced thin 2 ounces fresh chevre INSTRUCTIONS

    For the pumpkin seed streusel: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the flour, pumpkin seeds, oats, brown sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons of butter (cut into small pieces) in a small bowl. Use your fingers to blend the ingredients, until you're left with large streusel-y crumbles.

    Spread the streusel on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp. Cool slightly.

    Make the brown butter vinaigrette: Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a small pan over medium-low heat. Watch the butter carefully -- when the foaming has subsided and the butter has started to brown, add the minced shallot and soften for one minute. Remove from heat, and transfer to a small bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice, a sprinkling of fresh marjoram or thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

    To assemble the salad: Toss the lettuce, sliced apple and chevre with a few tablespoons of the brown butter vinaigrette. Add dressing as needed until leaves are nicely coated. Sprinkle liberally with the pumpkin seed streusel.

    Per serving: 394 cal.; 9 g pro.; 26 g carb.; 29 g fat (16 sat., 7 monounsat., 2 polyunsat., 4 other); 60 mg chol.; 318 mg sod.; 3 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 65 percent calories from fat. Apple and poppy seed slaw Prep time: 20 minutes Serves: 8 Apples add a sweet flavor to traditional slaw. This recipe, from Bon Appetit magazine, is a good one to serve with pork or chicken. INGREDIENTS 8 cups shredded green cabbage (about 1 small head) 3 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely grated (about 2 1/2 cups) 3 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, coarsely grated 4 green onions, thinly sliced 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar 2/3 cup sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed 2 tablespoons poppy seeds INSTRUCTIONS

    Mix cabbage, carrots, apples and green onions in large bowl. Add vinegar and toss to coat.

    Whisk sour cream, mayonnaise, apple juice concentrate and poppy seeds in medium bowl to blend. Add to cabbage mixture and toss to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour. (Can be made a day ahead. Keep refrigerated. Toss to blend before serving.)

    Per serving: 233 cal.; 3 g pro.; 21 g carb.; 16 g fat (4 sat., 1 monounsat., 1 polyunsat., 10 other); 13 mg chol.; 116 mg sod.; 4 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 60 percent calories from fat. Curried apple soup Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 40 minutes Serves: 6 This soup is so velvety and smooth you won't believe there's no cream added. A small amount of curry powder enhances rather than overpowers the sweet apple flavor. Garnish with sauteed apples and snipped chives. The recipe is from the Washington Apple Commission. INGREDIENTS 4 tablespoons butter 6 apples, peeled, cored and diced 1 large onion, diced 3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme 1 teaspoon curry powder 6 cups chicken stock Salt to taste Freshly ground black pepper to taste INSTRUCTIONS

    In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, onions and thyme sprigs. Cook, stirring frequently, until soft and golden brown, about 15 minutes. Stir in the curry powder until the apples and onions are coated and the curry is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

    Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer until apples are very soft, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

    Puree soup, in batches if necessary, in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup hot or at room temperature.

    Per serving: 205 cal.; 2 g pro.; 26 carb.; 11 g fat (6 sat.; 4 monounsat.; 1 polyunsat.); 26 mg chol.; 1195 mg sod.; 6 g fiber; 49 percent calories from fat. Stuffed baked apples Prep time: 20 minutes Cook time: 60 minutes Serves: 4 Pair this savory take on the traditional baked apple with a crisp salad for lunch or a light supper. The recipe is from the Washington Apple Commission. INGREDIENTS 1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled 2 tablespoons butter, plus 3 tablespoons butter, melted 1/2 cup diced onion 1/2 cup diced red pepper 1 clove garlic, minced 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs Salt to taste Pepper to taste 4 large apples (Golden Delicious or Rome) 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 4 cinnamon sticks, about 4 inches long 3/4 cup chicken stock or broth INSTRUCTIONS

    Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add crumbled sausage and cook, stirring frequently, until browned (the meat shouldn't be cooked through at this point), about 5 minutes. Scrape the meat into a medium bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and melt over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the chopped sage and continue to cook 1 more minute. Combine the cooked onion/pepper mixture with the sausage, bread crumbs, salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

    Peel the top third of each apple and generously core, leaving about half an inch at the bottom. The opening should be about 2 inches in diameter. Brush the peeled portion of each apple with the melted butter and roll in the Parmesan cheese, pressing lightly on the cheese. Reserve any extra butter and cheese.

    Lightly pack filling into each apple and insert a cinnamon stick into each. Sprinkle with remaining butter and cheese. Pour chicken stock into the pan. Bake until apples are just tender and browned, about 45 minutes.

    Per serving: 497 cal.; 14 g pro.; 31 carb.; 36 g fat (18 sat.; 14 monounsat.; 4 polyunsat.); 89 mg chol.; 1168 mg sod.; 4 g fiber; 64 percent calories from fat. Slow-cooked apples and pork Total cook time: 4 to 10 hours Serves: 8 This recipe is from www.Recipe4Living.com. The fruity flavor of the apples makes all the difference in this pork dish. INGREDIENTS 3 to 4 pounds boneless pork or boneless pork chops 3 pounds of applesauce 2 tablespoons of apple pie spice (mixture of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg) 6 small red potatoes, whole 4 carrots, peeled and cut in chunks 2 cups white pearl onions, peeled and left whole 2 firm tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin INSTRUCTIONS

    Remove any visible fat from pork; cut in large chunks. Combine applesauce and spice in a large, heavy pot or crock-pot. Add meat. Cover tightly and cook on medium heat 10 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer; cook at least 4 hours and as long as 10 hours. One hour before serving, add potatoes, carrots and onions. Fifteen minutes before serving, add apple slices. To serve, remove meat, vegetables and apples to a large platter and pour 1 cup of sauce over all. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

    Braised pork shoulder with apple cider and ginger beer Serves 8 This recipe is from Bon Appetit, and the meat can be braised a day ahead to save time. INGREDIENTS 1 5-6-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston cut) 2 tablespoons kosher salt plus more Freshly ground pepper 1 pound shallots (about 9 large) 12 garlic cloves (about 1 large head) 2 apples, peeled, quartered, cored 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth 2 cups apple cider, preferably fresh 1 12-oz. bottle strong ginger beer (such as Reed’s) 3 sprigs rosemarry INSTRUCTIONS

    Season pork shoulder with 2 tablespoons salt and pepper. Using kitchen twine, tie pork at ½-inch intervals, forming a compact cylinder. Let stand at room temperature for 2 hours, or cover and chill overnight. If chilled, let pork stand at room temperature for 2 hours before continuining.

    Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place pork in a large heavy ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid; arrange shallots, garlic and apples around port. Add broth, cider and ginger beer. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, and transfer to oven.

    Braise pork until a knife slides easily through meat, 4 to 5 hours. Let meat cool in braising liquid, then refrigerate until cold (the meat will slice more easily when cold). Tip: Pork can be braised up to 3 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using tongs, transfer pork to a cutting board. Strain braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl; discard fat and solids. Slice pork between kitchen twine and place in a large roasting pan. Carefully remove twine, leaving slices intact. Pour braising liquid into pan to cover pork halfway (1 ½ - 2 cups) and arrange rosemary over. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until pork is just heated through, 15-20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, pour remaining braising liquid from bowl into a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil sauce until reduced to 2 cups, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

    Transfer sliced pork to a platter (discard any liquid in pan) and drizzle some of sauce over. Serve remaining sauce alongside.

    Fresh apple pie Prep time: 35 minutes Baking time: 35 minutes Serves: 8 This recipe from Betty Crocker was voted top apple pie recipe, among many apple pie recipes, by users on www.bettycrocker.com. Tip: Serve pie with vanilla ice cream and warm caramel topping. INGREDIENTS 1 package Betty Crocker pie crust mix 1/3 cup cold water 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/4 teaspoons ground nutmeg 5 cups thinly sliced peeled apples (3 large) 1 tablespoon butter or margarine milk additional sugar INSTRUCTIONS

    Heat oven to 425 degrees. Make pie crust mix as directed for 9-inch Two-Crust Pie, using ⅓ cup cold water -- except trim overhanging edge of bottom pastry 1 inch from rim of plate.

    Stir together ½ cup sugar, the flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in large bowl, Add apples; toss. Spoon into pastry-lined pie paste. Dot with butter.

    Roll remaining pastry; cut into 10 strips, each about ½-inch wide. Place 5 strips across filling in pie plate. Weave a cross-strip through by first folding back every other strip of the first 5 strips. Continue weaving, folding back alternate strips before adding each cross-strip, until lattice is complete. Trim ends. Fold trimmed edge of bottom crust over ends of strips, building up a high edge. Seal and flute. Brush lightly with milk; sprinkle lightly with additional sugar.

    Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is golden brown and juice is bubbly.

    Old-fashioned stack cake with Appalachian apple butter filling Cook time: Depends on how big you want your stack. This recipe makes one 9-inch cake with six stacks. Three stacks were baked simultaneously for 10 to 12 minutes The filling (recipe below) takes about an hour. Allow 24 hours for the cake to chill in the refrigerator. Serves 8 This recipe comes from Cooking With Paula Deen. According to the magazine, stack cakes were traditional in Southern Appalachia when folks gathered for special occasions. Tradition says the number of layers in a cake was a measure of the popularity of the hosting family. INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup all-vegetable shortening 1/2 cup sugar 1/2 cup buttermilk 1/3 cup molasses 1 egg, slightly beaten 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon Pinch of nutmeg Confectioners' sugar for dusting INSTRUCTIONS

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 6 (9-inch) cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper, and spray parchment paper with cooking spray.

    In a medium bowl, beat shortening and sugar at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add buttermilk, molasses, egg and vanilla, beating well.

    In a large bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture. Add shortening mixture, stirring just until combined.

    On a lightly floured surface, form dough into a log; cut into six equal portions. Place one portion in each prepared pan, and use fingers to lightly pat dough to edges of pans.

    Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire racks. Cake will have the consistency of a gingerbread cookie.

    Place one cake layer on a serving plate or cake stand; spread with about 3/4 cup warm fruit butter filling.

    Repeat procedure with remaining layers and fruit butter filling, stacking each on previous layer. Do not spread fruit butter filling on top layer. Cover and refrigerate cake for at least 24 hours. Just before serving, dust with confectioners' sugar.

    Appalachian apple butter filling

    INGREDIENTS 4 cups roughly chopped dried apples 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar 1 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon ground cinnomon 6 cups apple cider (not juice) INSTRUCTIONS

    In large saucepan, combine dried fruit and all dry ingredients. Add enough liquid to cover. Bring to a low boil and cook, stirring often, for 45 minutes.

    Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes or until cooled slightly. Transfer to the work bowl of a food processor or container of a blender; process until smooth. Use while still warm.

    Per serving: 704 cal.; 8 g pro.; 137 g carb.; 13 g fat (4 sat., 5 monounsat., 4 polyunsat.); 24 mg chol.; 548 mg sod.; 5 g fiber; 548 g sugar; 17 percent calories from fat.

Apple recipes

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 - 9:08 pm

In season in California: August to December

How to choose good apples: The best are fresh, crisp and juicy. A fresh apple feels firm and heavy for its size. The skin should show no dents or bruises. Avoid those that smell musty.

Taste: Apples have a moderately sweet, refreshing flavor and a tartness that is present to greater or lesser degree depending on the variety. For example, Golden and Red Delicious apples are mild and sweet, while Pippins and Granny Smith apples are notably brisk and tart. Tart apples, which best retain their texture during cooking, are often preferred for cooked desserts like apple pie, while Delicious apples and other sweeter varieties like Braeburn and Fuji apples are usually eaten raw.

Health benefits: Apples are mostly fiber, water and sugar, which makes them a great fat-free energy booster. They also contain a moderate amount of vitamin C and several antioxidants. Several studies have found a correlation between apples' strong antioxidant benefits and a lower risk of lung cancer. The skin of the apple is unusually rich in nutrients, so consider leaving the skin on even in recipes that call for peeled apples. One medium apple that is about three inches in diameter contains about 95 calories, 3 from fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of dietary fiber and 19 grams of sugar.



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