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Monday, October 24, 2011

For the love of apples!

Fall is the time of year when you get to warm up with apple cider, venture outside apple picking and enjoy the countryside’s burst of colour from the trees surrounding the orchard.
For so many banana’s are their favourite fruit but mine has always been apples. Crisp MacIntosh apples in the fall and throughout winter, Gala in the winter to spring and big juicy delicious apples in the summertime. Each one has their own unique flavour, juiciness and sweetness and all of them go so well with cheese.
So instead of just the eating of the fruit raw (which of course is great for you) how about a few new ways to use your fresh picked apples?
MacIntosh Spiced Apple Chips
Traditional cinnamon spices or curried spices are great with a portable savoury snack that is great to take with you. I like the apples a bit drier and chewier and tend to slice them about 1/8” think but if you like the juicier chips leave them about 1/4” thick and in the oven or dehydrator a little longer.
When using the oven method, make sure you make a big batch to justify the 7-14hr time period it takes to make the chips. Leave them in an airtight container or ziplock bag with a clean paper towel for up to 4 weeks (if they stay around that long).
Preheat your oven or set your dehydrator to 135˚F
12-15 MacIntosh apples, washed and cored
         Cut off the tops and bottoms to expose the apple flesh
         Sliced 1/8-1/4” thick, pending on desired texture (using mandoline or knife)
Place onto dehydrating racks or onto parchment lined cookie sheets, do not overlap. When using the oven method you will need to turn the chips over half way through their drying process.
Traditional spiced apple chips
1Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp cloves
1/2tsp Nutmeg
Mix the spiced in a small bowl or glass, place the traditional spices into tea strainer (fine mesh strainer) and gently tap the spices over your cut apples. Add as much or as little spice as you would like, I usually cover the apple slices completely to get a nice cinnamon contrast to the sweet apples.

Curried spice apple chips

1Tbsp ground curry spice
1tsp ground cumin
1/2-1Tbsp Himalayan fine salt (or kosher salt for crunch)
Mix the spiced in a small bowl or glass, place the curry and cumin into tea strainer (fine mesh strainer) and gently tap the spices over your cut apples. Add as much or as little spice as you would like, then using your fingers sprinkle pinches of salt over the apple slices, the salt isn’t crunchy it dissolves onto the moist apples. The flavour is subtle and not overpowering and compliments the sweetness of the apples.
Let these apple chips dehydrate for 7-14 hours pending on how thick you’ve cut your apples and the desired texture. In my dehydrator the 1/8” thick pieces dried for 7 hours and they turned out perfectly. Best to do these on a day when you’re home so you can check on them from time to time.
Enjoy these with some raw nuts or by themselves as snacks on the go!
Savoury Apple Sauce
We all know the traditional spiced applesauce but here’s a nice switch on a traditional favourite. With this recipe you can leave the apples chunkier or die them to 1/4” and purée them in a food processor until smooth.

8 Gala Apples, peel on, diced or chunked
1/2small Yellow Onion, diced
1small Garlic, roasted*
1Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice (juice of one lemon)
3Tbsp Unsulphured Molasses
1Tbsp Agave Nectar
2Tbsp Unsalted Butter
2tsp Fresh Rosemary, minced
1tsp Fresh Thyme, minced
1tsp Kosher Salt
1/2tsp Fresh Ground Pepper
1C Unsweetened Apple juice

Add all ingredients to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium heat and simmer for an hour (watch it doesn’t burn). Let cool for 1/2hr and pour into a food processor and blend until smooth or desired texture is reached. For a chunkier applesauce, let cook 1/2hr and place a few heaping spoons of apples into the blender with the roasted garlic, blend until smooth and stir back into the apple chunks. Return to saucepan and gently simmer to thicken your applesauce if desired.
*To roast your garlic, cut off the top of the head and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in tinfoil and roast at 425 for 30 - 45 minutes.

Server over roasted acorn squash, or potato latkes with Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.

Apple-Onion Tarts (revised Martha Stewart recipe)             Serves 6

1Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1Tbsp unsalted butter
3 medium Gala apples, peeled, cored, halved, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
8 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
3Tbsp cider vinegar
1/2tsp coarse salt
Brown rice flour, for dusting
Rosemary-Manchego Tart Dough (below)
1C Coarsely grated manchego cheese
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and onions, and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook until very soft and caramelized, about 35 minutes. Add vinegar and salt, and cook 5 minutes. Let cool.
  2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a generous 1/8 inch thick. Cut out six 7-inch rounds, gathering scraps and rerolling dough if needed. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.
  3. Puree half the apple-onion mixture in a food processor until smooth. Using an offset spatula, spread 3 tablespoons apple-onion puree over each dough round, leaving a 1-inch border around edges. Sprinkle each with 2 tablespoons cheese. Season with pepper. Top each with a generous tablespoon of remaining apple-onion mixture, and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons cheese. Fold edges of dough in, crimping with your fingers. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Bake until edges are golden brown, 40 to 45 minutes. Serve tarts warm or at room temperature.

Rosemary-Manchego Tart Dough (revised Martha Stewart recipe)

Makes enough for 6 apple-onion tarts
1 small parsnip, peeled
1C brown rice flour
1C sorghum flour
1tsp salt
1tsp honey
1/4tsp freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2C finely grated manchego cheese
2 1/2tspfinely chopped fresh rosemary
1 large egg yolk
1/4C ice water

  1. Finely grate parsnip (you will need 1/2 cup). Place on a clean kitchen towel (do not use paper towels), and squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible.
  2. Pulse parsnip, flours, salt, sugar, pepper, butter, cheese, and rosemary in a food processor. Add yolk, and pulse to combine. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream, processing until dough just comes together (no longer than 15 seconds). Shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or up to 2 days).

Quinoa-and-Apple Salad with Curry Dressing (Martha Stewart)      Serves 4

1/4C raw whole almonds
1C white quinoa
1tsp honey
1tsp finely chopped shallot
1-2tsp curry powder
1/4tsp coarse salt
2Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground pepper
2Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2Tbsp dried currants
1 small McIntosh apple, cut into 1/8-inch-thick wedges
1/4C loosely packed fresh mint leaves, coarsely chopped

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Spread almonds on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop nuts.
  2. Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine sieve; drain. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa; return to a boil. Stir quinoa; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer until quinoa is tender but still chewy, about 15 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork; let cool.
  3. Whisk together honey, shallot, curry powder, salt, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Season with pepper. Whisking constantly, pour in oil in a slow, steady stream; whisk until dressing is emulsified. Add quinoa, currants, apple, mint, and nuts; toss well. Garnish with mint.

Apple-Currant Cookies (revised Martha Stewart recipe)            Makes about 3 dozen

1C apple cider or mulled apple juice
1C currants
1C brown rice
1C sorghum flour
1tsp GF baking soda
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
1/2tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1C dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
1C honey
1 large egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
3 to 4 crisp and tart cooking apples

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat or parchment paper. Heat cider in a small saucepan to a simmer. Place currants in a bowl; pour warm cider over them. Let plump at least 10 minutes.
  2. Sift together flours, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar and honey until fluffy. On low speed, add egg, and continue beating until well blended. The mixture will look slightly curdled, but it will pull together when you add the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients, beating until just combined. Drain currants, discarding cider. Mix in currants and oats until just combined. Using the largest holes on a box grater, shred 1 of the apples directly into the dough, rotating to avoid seeds and core. Stir well to combine.
  5. Using a 1-ounce scoop, scoop out six cookies about 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the heated oven until dark brown, 18 to 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining batter. 
Enjoy the sweet smell and tastes of fall!

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