THE FOODIE FILES: Sweet, Savory, Autumnal

By on October 20, 2015

A cornucopia of apple recipes to sate every kind of taste bud.

Apples ready for the picking in Ammon, Idaho, (left);  Whit Hall with his cache of freshly picked Cortlands (middle) and a cake that thinks it’s a pie – Browned Butter Apple Cake.  (Photo from left to right: Libby Hall, Libby Hall, Annie Fenn, MD)

Apples ready for the picking in Ammon, Idaho, (left); Whit Hall with his cache of freshly picked Cortlands (middle) and a cake that thinks it’s a pie – Browned Butter Apple Cake. (Photo from left to right: Libby Hall, Libby Hall, Annie Fenn, MD)

Jackson, WY – When the first apples roll into the valley, I can’t help but pick up a few bushels. How’s your apple haul going? Just in case you need help plowing through that box, I’ve scoured the Internet, my cookbooks and recipe box for this hyper-seasonal, must-do apple list.

Pick your own: Some of my friends have been heading over to Ammon, Idaho, to pick their own Cortland, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Empire, Early Gold and Spartan apples. The season is just about over at the apple orchard just outside of Idaho Falls, but there may be a few good days of apple picking left. Call first: 208-201-8969.

Eat them raw: The first apples of the season are best eaten every time a snack is in order. They are only this crisp and this good once a year, so enjoy. Add chopped fresh apples to oatmeal, salads, ice cream and yogurt. Snack on them smeared with almond butter, peanut butter or Nutella.

Browned butter apple cake: My favorite fall cake is a like an upside down pie. Sliced apples and browned butter are placed in a pie plate. A simple batter of hazelnut or almond flour, sugar, eggs and cinnamon is smeared over the apples. It bakes up crispy on top and juicy on the bottom. Find the recipe at JacksonHoleFoodie.com.

Apple brie panini: Layer thinly sliced apples onto sturdy bread with your favorite cheese (I like Brie). No panini press? Get two heavy frying pans really hot and press your sandwich between them.

Honeycrisp crackers: Slice honeycrisp apples at right angles to the stem about one-quarter inch thick — a mandoline works well for this. Place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, sprinkle with coarse sugar, and bake at 150 degrees for about four hours or until dehydrated. When cool, smear with goat cheese and top with smoked trout. (Recipe by Chef Eric Wilson.)

Oven roasted applesauce: Making applesauce on the stovetop requires several hours of watchful stewing and stirring. It’s far easier to oven roast your applesauce. Place peeled, quartered and cored apples on a baking sheet and toss with a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar. Dab with 2 tablespoons of butter, cover tightly with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 30 minutes. Once soft, remove the cover, increase the heat to 500 degrees, and roast for another 10 minutes. Scrape into a bowl and mash into a sauce. Season with salt and sugar, if needed, and a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.

Apple butter: Applesauce is great, but apple butter is sublime. It takes a bit longer to turn your apples into butter, but it can be done in a Crock Pot with little hands-on time. My friend Bob makes Chinese five-spice apple butter by filling a Crock Pot with peeled and cored apples cut into chunks, a generous spoonful of Chinese five-spice powder, and a glug of apple cider vinegar. Set the slow cooker on low and 12 hours later the apples will be transformed into a deep brown, spreadable butter.

Zuni Café apple pie: Of course you should make an apple pie! I am not much of a pie baker, but my friend Judy just made one of the best I’ve ever had from the Zuni Café Cookbook by Judy Rodgers. She threw in a handful of cranberries and we were all in heaven. (Recipe can be found after a few clicks on Google — it’s a classic.)

Apple crostata: This is my kind of pie — a freeform rustic affair where the crust is placed on a baking sheet and loosely folded up around a mound of sliced apples tossed with orange zest, allspice, cinnamon and sugar. I have made Ina Garten’s recipe dozens of times (Google it) and it is perfect every time, just make sure the dough is really cold when you form the crostata.

Baked apples: It’s just so easy to core out the center of an apple, stuff it with chopped walnuts, dates and brown sugar, and bake it in the oven. My favorite recipe for baked apples is topped with a sauce of curry-spiked mascarpone cheese, which melts into a beautiful sauce over the warm apples. Find the recipe over at JacksonHoleFoodie.com.

Roasted apples and turnips: I love roasting those little white Hakuri turnips that Cosmic Apple Gardens grows, and apples bring out their sweet flavor. Snap off the turnip greens and set aside. Cut turnips and peeled apples into same-size pieces. Toss with olive oil and salt; roast in the oven at 400 degrees until brown. Deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of apple cider. Serve root-to-stalk by chopping the turnip greens, quickly sautéing in a frying pan, and sprinkling over the turnips to serve.

Apple peel cider vinegar: How about turning discarded apple peels and cores into your own homemade vinegar? Save them as you plow through that box of apples in a Ziploc bag in the freezer until you’ve collected two quarts. Place in a large ceramic bowl with one-third cup sugar that has been dissolved in two quarts water. Cover with a plate and weigh down with something heavy to keep the solids submerged. Cover the entire bowl with cheesecloth and leave on the counter in a dark spot for six to seven days. Now strain the solids from the liquid, and place the liquid in jars or bottles. Secure a piece of cheesecloth over the top with a rubber band; age at room temperature for six to eight weeks. You’ll have a vinegar mother after just two weeks.

Apple and fennel soup: Take your apples in a savory direction with this perfectly autumnal soup. Apples are simmered with celery, fennel, lemon, honey and chicken stock. Once tender, a handful of fresh mint and thyme are added and the soup is pureed. Finish with a touch of cream and a handful of watercress. Find the recipe at Food52.com

Apple cardamom shrub: Once you’ve eaten your way through a bushel or two of apples, it’s time to congratulate yourself with a nice drink. There are bound to be a few squishy apples left rolling around the bottom of the box — don’t toss them! These partially fermented apples are perfect for making shrubs: a concentrated fruit and vinegar syrup that is used as the base for a refreshing drink, spiked or not. Quarter three apples and shred using a grater or food processor. Add one-cup apple cider vinegar, one-half cup turbinado sugar, and one-teaspoon ground cardamom. Cover and leave in a cool place on the countertop for two days. Strain out the solids and pour the liquid into a clean mason jar. Cap tightly and shake to combine. Store in the fridge for up to one year. To drink: Combine equal parts shrub and sparkling water and serve over ice. Spike with a shot of your favorite spirit if you like.

I’m sure you can come up with your own favorite apple recipe. Share it with me online at PlanetJH.com.

Upcoming Foodie Events

Hey foraging friends: I am teaming up with Teton Plants, the Jackson chapter of the Wyoming Native Plant Society to present “Beyond Morels: Foraging for Edible Plants in the Tetons.” Join me at 6 p.m., Oct. 27 at the Teton County Library to learn how to identify, cook and preserve the wild greens and mushrooms in our backyard. It’s free and open to the public.

And be sure to come over to my house on Oct. 24 for the Feast of the Tetons, a harvest dinner to benefit Slow Food in the Tetons. Chef René Stein will be cooking up a very special meal for 45 guests. There are just a few tickets left: TetonSlowFood.org. PJH

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at JacksonHoleFoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

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About Annie Fenn, MD

After delivering babies and practicing gynecology for 20 years in Jackson, Annie traded her life as a doctor to pursue her other passion: writing about food, health, sustainability and the local food scene. Follow her snippets of mountain life, with recipes, at www.jacksonholefoodie.com and on Instagram @jacksonholefoodie.

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