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eG Cook-Off #67: Apples


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“Then he would peel apples from Normandy, and cut them into thin, even half-moons, and toss them in a bowl of white wine…beat eggs and cream and nutmeg into a custard, and fill the shallow crust half full. He took the apple slices from the bowl one by one, almost faster than we could see...and laid them in a great, beautiful whorl, from the outside to the center, as perfect as a snail shell. He did it as effortlessly as a spider spins a web.”  MFK Fisher, 1908-1992

                            

Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was arguably one of the greatest food writers of the 20th century.  A poet and a storyteller, Mary Frances welcomed us into her kitchen through the art of the written word.  She tempted us to step into her world of food, painting a picture in our minds of a simple fruit crafted into a fragrant, sweet, apple tart. 

 

As Fall approaches, I reflect on MFK’s memories of the apple and it serves as the inspiration for another volume in our popular eG Cook-Off series: Apples.  (Click here http://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/ for the complete eG Cook-Off Index).

 

A mere two hours drive from my home, Wenatchee, Washington, is known as the “Apple Capital of the World.”  We’re just now starting to see the early apples in our markets, but the peak season in Washington will run from September into October.  Let’s put on our aprons, practice rolling pastry dough and pairing apples with something decadent like truffles and foie gras.  It’s time for an Apple Cook-Off.

                

Washington Pink Lady Apple-

IMG_2149.JPG

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We have planned    Viking  dish  this month,  apples, smoked bacon  or salted pork, onions  and clove fried in a pan and served with either rye bread or  fried  wheat bread. YUm.

There will also be savoury apple turns over and  sweet apple pies.

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I think for my first dish I'll do an apple charlotte based on a Julia Child recipe.  Just need to figure out the sauce, ice cream and garnishes.  Then for a savory dish I'm thinking of a roast chicken I do with apples, turnips and a Calvados cream sauce.  I'm sure some of mixologists in our community will present a few whimsical apple cocktails. 

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We should be considering the variety of apple we'll be using in our dishes.  One of my cherished fall recipes is a classic French Apple Tarte Tatin, but it took a lot of experimentation to get the right apple.  I figured Granny Smith apples would be a good choice since they cook well in a pie blanketed in pastry--tart without turning to mush while the pie is baking. But in the Tarte Tatin, the Granny Smith didn't fare as well.  Baking in the caramel left the apples mealy--in other words, a bit mushy. The Fuji, a favorite in my apple compote filling for strudel, only graded a B- in the Tarte Tatin--lost it's shape and not a good ratio of tartness to counter the very sweet caramel.

 

I found success using a humble Golden Delicious.  It has the right balance between sweet and tart, yet the caramel doesn't overpower the apple making the finished Tatin too sweet.  The Golden Delicious holds its shape, but the key is how you cut it for the Tatin.  (More on the Tarte Tatin, including photos, to come). 

 

Aside from being the most popular eating apple and a favorite in school cafeterias, I'm sure there is the perfect recipe for the eponymous Red Delicious.

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The apple isn't getting enough love here. Are we tired of them? I'm not. It's a rare day that we don't have some apples in the house. Lately I have been on an applesauce kick. I like to combine the apples with some other kind of fruit. In the spring I was making a lot of rhubarb applesauce. The last couple of months I've been into apple-plum sauce. I've given up measuring ingredients for the most part, because it doesn't seem to matter--it's always yummy. 

 

I peel my apples first, but you don't have to. Generally I do equal number of apples to plums or stalks of rhubarb; typically a batch would be 5 or 6 apples plus 5 or 6 of the other. The plums should be nice and ripe and juicy. I peel the plums, too. For plums I throw in 2 or 3 T of sugar, for rhubarb, more like a third of a cup. The chopped fruit goes into the pot with everything: up to a half cup of red wine, a splash of apple juice if I have it. Rhubarb doesn't seem to need any extra liquid besides the wine.  Add one cinnamon stick, half a vanilla bean, split and partially scraped out, and a pinch of salt. If I'm feeling adventurous I glug in a little calvados or cassis or even Angostura bitters. .Then I cook it at a slow simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes or until very tender. If your apples don't fall apart you can mash them a bit with a whisk or whatever. I love it hot and I love it cold. Works with ice cream and is fantastic with creme fraiche. One of these days I'm going to make latkes for my applesauce. I think the apple-plum sauce would be be a perfect match.

 

We tend to buy mostly Pink Ladies, Braeburns or whatever is tart, fresh and very crisp. One of my favorite apples is an Arkansas Black, or as we refer to them, Black Arks, but they have a very short season here in CA and don't seem to be grown locally. Also Gravensteins make great applesauce, but if they are not fresh from the tree they get mealy awfully fast and disappoint. I imagine good apple sauce could be made with just about any apple that has a flavor you like. One thing that seems to make a difference: red wine is better for this than white, although white will do in a pinch. If all I could get were sweet apples I would add some lemon zest and a squeeze. Yes, it is baby food, but not just for babies.

 

Also I am crazy for apple cake that has lots of apples in it. One great one is the Apple Tart Cake that can be found on Orangette's website. Another is Teddie's Apple Cake which has been a NYT staple for years. Sweet Amandine has a terrific adaptation.

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I'm in...it's so hot here that I'm not in apple mode yet.  Give me a few weeks :)

I know you'll have something delicious for us--and this Cook-Off is one that should live on for years.  We intentionally started a bit early with the Apple Cook-Off to build up to the peak of the season.  Up here in Washington we're expecting a very good crop owing to our very long, hot summer and warm overnight temperatures.

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Yeah, definitely not yet apple season here.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Not yet apple season here in East Central Ontario.  We have at last count 20 apple trees on our 100-acre hemp farm although many are hardly edible now.  Some are heritage apples no doubt, going back over 100 years.  We don't know...no one has documented any of this.  Some taste OK.  Some are well...we don't want to eat them.  All are growing wild.

 

In our back yard we have two nicely-producing trees - a Macintosh and a Northern Spy.  And you can't beat a Northern Spy for pies.  (Which Canadians eat traditionally with sharp cheddar...not whipped cream, not ice cream.)

 

Two years ago we had WONDERFUL apples up the wazoo.  We juiced as many as we could stand to juice and froze the results.  And apple-sauced the rest.  Some were pies.  Nothing noteworthy except for the incredible abundance of the apples.

 

Next year we had lots of apples...but small and not really that good.  Didn't really do anything with them. 

 

This year the Northern Spy has NO apples on it.  And the Mac has a very few, up high in the branches and we haven't tried one yet. 

 

The pattern above is not new over the last 19 years.  I have no idea why.  It's time to call in a professional apple grower I think.

 

Any advice is gratefully received.  I realize that this post entails more than the cooking of apples.  Sorry. 

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I'll be watching for Northern Spy apples to see what they're like and whether they're available in the Duluth area. Thanks for that comment. My usual pie apple is Granny Smith, purchased from the grocery store, but I'm always in search of even better options: crisp, tart, flavorful. My darling's favorite is the Cortland, which grows pretty well around here. The University of Minnesota released, if that's the right word, its Honeycrisp breed sometime in the last 10 years. For my money its principal benefit seems to be that it's winter hardy; it has nice flavor, but I don't see a reason to seek it out.

Last year I became fascinated with all the wild apples growing in my area. It's clear they were planted on old homesteads, but the variety in size and shape is amazing. One tree of the dozens I tried produces fruit roughly the size of cherry tomatoes, but oh, the flavor! I'm eagerly watching that one. It yielded some wonderful relishes and slaws last year.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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a big flavor difference in apples is which season do they come from ?  most apples in the North, come from the s.hemisphere for at least 1/2 of the year or more.

 

how to tell its 'current crop' :  look at the tip of the stem.  if its dry and snarly, its an older apple. those are coated in a very like wax

 

to keep them from drying out, and kept in large storage areas, some time 'under gas'

 

the tip of the stem never get the wax treatment, so if not 'current crop' it dried out a bit.,

 

apples do better for flavor etc if they live in an area where it freezes.

 

here in N.E. we get a lot of interesting apples from actual orchards in the fall.  some have real blackboards that tell you when

 

each apple type they grow are due.  they also have a 'seconds' room, where by the bag they are all much cheaper  but still

 

mighty fine.  a little smaller, a blemish here and there.

 

Im In.   any one ever have 'winter banana?'  one orchard I go to grows lots of old time apples like this one.

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It's totally appropriate for us to discuss everything about the apple from the variety, growing, harvesting and cooking--it certainly enriches our discussion and learning. 

I don't have an apple tree, but I've always wondered about pesticides and fertilizers for folks who grow non-commercial apples.  I would imagine one has to use organic means to ward off bugs and worms?

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Ive had apple trees.   I wanted a few more, especially Espalier trees which they sold on the S fork of Long Island.

 

one key is to understand and use 'light oil' spray in the spring, several times, / week  before the buds sweel

 

this deprives oxygen to the critters hybernating in the Wood and kills a lot of them

 

you use use the light oil when the buds star to swell you lose the buds.  rains a lot ? you have to do it again.

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Rotuts: Where exactly do you spray the 'light oil'?

 

David Ross:  We don't use anything on our trees, not fertilizer nor pesticides.  Not a big problem.  If there's a worm, we do as the 'old-timers' did: cut the worm out with a paring knife.  As DH was telling our B-i-L yesterday...one use to eat and apple with a paring knife in hand to cut out the bad parts and the fauna.

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Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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One of Washington's newest apples won't be ready for the commercial market until the 2017 season.  Unfortunately, the apple scientists at Washington State University decided to apply the clinical name of "WA38" to the new apple.  I'm sure they could have been more creative and maybe someday WA38 will have a name that is enticing to the consumer.  There is a lot of information on the efforts of the WSU School of Agriculture's efforts to breed new apples here, http://www.tfrec.wsu.edu/pages/breed/WA38

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on the entire tree.  you want to coat the Wild Life waiting to wake up

 

I used to be a member of the 'NYState Fruit Testing Assc.'  located in Geneva, NY.  its a very old Fruit Station, and run by

 

Cornell Univ.  the annual meeting is the third Sat in Sept.  Its an all day affair.  I went for 10 years and loved every meeting.

 

they had bowls of various fruits on a long table in the reception area,  " NYS 4228 " etc.  these were apples and other fruit under

 

examination for release.  you took your Pairing Knife, chopped a Tranche and then wrote your opinion down on a slip of paper

 

some were released commercially eventually, most not.  unique apples and other fruit.

 

there were two lectures in the Antigue large lecture hall in the AM, a lunch break  ( didnt bring your lunch ? various church groups brought food for sale, on a rotating schedule.

 

in the after noon, you signed up for two field trips : to the Testing staions fields.  I alway went w apples and pears

 

a professor of Pomology lead the apple group.  they had 4 trees of every known apple sub type in their apple orchards.

 

the lectures were first from an expert from another country, an invited Visiting Professor. then a professor from Cornell.

 

One was a professor of Pomology from Poland !

 

they then had a brief  'stump the stars'  you brought in a branch from a 'tree' and the professor when thourough looking at it  leaf pattern, bark type etc.

 

and told you what it was.  true.  their success rate was charted on a little chart :  85 % it seemed to be.

 

most of the attendee's were 'orchard-men and women' some like me hangers on, and other Fruit Enthusiasts.

 

NYS Fruit testing station in Geneva NY was designated the 'germ bank' for stone fruit.

 

lots of DNA work etc.

 

Why ?    1 ) Cornell  2 ) its a billion $$ industry in NYS

 

I loved every minute and miss it.

 

BTW  I gave up my lunch and prowled the library down stairs.

 

they had books on pears from France that were 200 years old +  and I got to look at them

 

beautiful color 'wood-cuts'  some of the most prized pears in the world were developed in FR

 

but they only fruit every other year, and are quite small, but delicious.  Ive had a few in Geneva !

 

one of my many dreams was to have some of those Pears in espallier, along w apples also rare,

 

espalier.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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We just had Fried apples, just apples, onions, bacon , sage and allspice  fried. I love it with pork.

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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I grew up with 10- 12 apple trees,  The only type of apple I miss is the oldest in  Sweden and most apple allergic arent allergic to this.  Risäter,  a pale green apple, sometimes  nearly white and would give some years a  clear  apple gel and pure white apple sauce,   If you mixed the risäter with Christmas apples ( this is not the true name of the  apple, but every one calls it that), you could end up with a barbie pink apple sauce.

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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This is the link to a previous topic on the classic Apple Tarte Tatin, http://forums.egullet.org/topic/31162-the-tarte-tatin-topic/?p=1764553

Today I'm crafting a Tarte Tatin using this season's first crop of Golden Delicious.  It's a 2-day process but well worth it. 

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DSC03893-1.jpg

 

This is twist on the tarte tatin,  I love apple cake  ( sponge cake  with apples) and I love toffee , so I followed the idea of  tarte tatin but added  the apple cake batter on top and it came out great!

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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This is twist on the tarte tatin,  I love apple cake  ( sponge cake  with apples) and I love toffee , so I followed the idea of  tarte tatin but added  the apple cake batter on top and it came out great!

Oh, recipe, please!  It looks scrumptious!

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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DSC03893-1.jpg

 

This is twist on the tarte tatin,  I love apple cake  ( sponge cake  with apples) and I love toffee , so I followed the idea of  tarte tatin but added  the apple cake batter on top and it came out great!

I too would like the recipe for this. It looks delicious!

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