My son went on an apple picking trip a few weeks ago with his kindergarten class. He had a great time and brought home lots of apples. You can only eat so many apples so I’ve also been busy cooking with the rest of them. Apple sauce has been made and I’ve started researching the best candy apple recipes so the caramel doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. This recipe for Caramel Apples with Lucy’s Granola Toffee Crumbles and Chocolate Shavings is a winner. I have also been testing some apple pie recipes. There are only so many hours in the day so I resorted to pre-made crust that I just had to roll out into the pan. My favorite recipe from the exercise is below.
Old Fashioned Apple Pie
Makes 1 8-9 inch pie
1 package pre-made pie crust
5 gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg + 2 tablespoons(egg wash)
-Preheat oven to 425°F.
-Roll out one pie crust and gently press into greased pie pan. Allow excess dough to hang over the edge. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the refrigerator to chill.
-In a large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice and lemon zest. Add the sugars, flour and spices and mix to combine. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes to let the apples release more juices.
-Pour into prepared pie shell. Cut butter into small pieces and sprinkle over the apples.
-Roll out remaining pie crust. Cut into ½ inch strips. Place one layer of strips across the pie over the apples, about 1 inch apart… do not press edges down. Place another layer of strips perpendicular to the first layer. Weave the strips over and under the first layer of strips to create a lattice affect. Press down the edges of the pie crust to seal the layers together.
-Whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash. Brush across the top of the pie crust.
-Bake pie for 30-35 minutes or unti top is golden brown and juices are bubbly.
-Cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with a healthy scoop of vanilla ice cream.
With the start of school this week, my thoughts start to change from summer vegetables to the bounty of fall. I’m not one to rush the seasons. In fact, I have had a tomato salad almost every day this week. And the tomato plants in my garden have more flowers now than they’ve had all summer. But I do love the flavors of fall. I have started experimenting in the kitchen this week with heartier recipes to share with you all. Think roasted vegetables, soups, stews and some really amazing pasta dishes. I’ll be ready to share those with you soon enough. With Rosh Hashanah less than a month away, here is one of my favorite apple recipes. It is one of my favorites because you can make it ahead of time and it transports easily for your to bring along with when you celebrate with family and friends.
Apple Honey Bread
Makes 1 loaf
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Bee Local Honey
2 cups apples, peeled & diced
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
-Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a loaf pan.
-Beat eggs, sugar, oil, vanilla & Bee Local Honey in a bowl. Add the apples.
-Mix flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon in a separate bowl. Add to apple mixture and stir until just combined into a thick batter. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
-Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes. Cover loaf with aluminum foil and continue to bake for about 15 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean).
-Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing and placing on a wire rack to cool completely.
Apple season, as I’ve mentioned numerous times before, is my favorite fall produce season. I dream year round of the moment when the morning air becomes crisp and steam dances from between my lips as I enter the world dressed in my fall layers. I love nothing more than starting my day before the sun rises during the fall, outdoors with a hot coffee in hand, just to admire the enchanting beauty. Apples are the perfect companion to fall weather — Mother Nature obviously knows what she’s doing — as they pair so wonderfully with warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove, which make them the best addition to a chilly Autumn morning. Regardless of the season we’re in, I eat an apple nearly everyday, but that number always multiplies during the fall months, not only due to their delicious flavor and the vast variety of apples grown in New York state, but also because of their versatility.
Of course, it’s no secret that I have the wildest sweet-tooth, so my favorite way to enjoy apples during the fall months is in baked goods… especially apple pie. Growing up in rural Minnesota, I had the sweetest elderly neighbor named Margie who would always bring my family baked goods, and when fall rolled around, Margie would bring us an apple pie at least once per week. Her apple pies were famous in my small hometown of 1,300 people, as Margie had the best apple blend, which of course she kept a secret, that made for the most amazing apple pie — which is not too sweet, not too tart, not too firm, nor too soft, blanketed in a rich, buttery, flaky crust, painted with an egg wash and dusted with demerara sugar… oh, and the filling also had a shot or two of rum which only added to the magic. I have never once baked a pie as good as Margie’s, nor do I know if I ever will, but each fall I make it my mission to create something as similar to her pie as I possibly can.
I am also a sucker for simplicity, so I adore a caramel apple. There is the cutest family run farm-stand along Highway 52, minutes outside of La Crescent, Minnesota, which is home to some of Minnesota’s best apple orchards. This farm stand sells well over a dozen varieties of apples, bagged for your convenience, as well as squash, pumpkins, gourds, and a lot of other fall produce. The best thing at the farm-stand, though, has to be their caramel apples. You can choose from a classic caramel apple, to a chopped nut coated caramel apple, to a candy speckled caramel apple, to a chocolate drizzled caramel apple… my favorite of which being the chopped peanut coated caramel apple. I used to beg my mom everyday during the fall to pick me up a caramel apple — or two — on her commute home from work. A few weeks back, I shared a delicious caramel recipe that will perfectly coat your favorite apple of choice, plus provided a few ideas for amazing toppings. Making caramel apples is a great activity to do with your kids, especially if you picked the apples yourself!
When it comes to savory dishes, apples can provide an amazing burst of sweetness without adding processed sugar to your meal. An apple inspired coleslaw pairs perfectly with grilled bratwursts, adding a kick of sweetness to create a rounder, more complex flavor profile, taking your bratwurst to the next level. For your next tailgate party, be sure to have apple coleslaw as one of your condiments… you certainly won’t be disappointed. Try adding shredded apples to a saute pan with onions, salt, and pepper, and caramelize low and slow to develop all of the natural sugars in the onions and the apple. Traditional caramelized onions are amazing on their own, but they are even more incredible when an apple is introduced into the mix, adding even more sweetness. Try this onion mixture on your burger to kick the flavor profile up a notch — or three — or in a smoked honey ham and cheese panini. Apples are also a great addition to your meat and cheese board, perfect for a holiday party or get-together. You could also impress your dinner guests by adding a layer of sliced apple and sliced fennel underneath and on top of bone-in chicken breasts with a mustard focused marinade before roasting. Really, you could try adding apples to any of your savory dishes to round out the flavor by adding a touch of natural sweetness.
There is really nothing I enjoy more on a cold Autumn evening than apple cider, especially if it’s heavily spiced with cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, and star anise, with a touch of citrus, and a shot or two of dark rum, whiskey, or brandy — the most amazing hot cocktail if the colder temperatures have you feeling ill… or if you’re simply wanting a yummy nightcap before bed. You can opt for store bought cider, or make your own by sauteing a mixture of gala apples, braeburn apples, honey crisp apples, and granny smith apples in a large stock pot with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and nutmeg, then add filtered water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for at least an hour — the longer you cook, to more developed the flavor becomes. Then, remove the whole spices, blend in batches or with an immersion blender, strain, and enjoy! I love how apple cider showcases the magic of the fall months, as it’s sweet, warming, and so very cozy!
Lastly, apple picking is so much fun, and is easily enjoyed by people of all ages! I love going to family run apple orchards in the fall, surrounded by cascading leaves of crimson, scarlet, and gold, and being gently caressed by Autumn’s cool breeze. There are some incredible orchards not far from NYC, teeming with fall inspired activities like corn mazes and pumpkin patches, but more importantly, bake stands, which 9 times out of 10 will sell apple cider donuts — which may be one of the greatest types of donuts ever created! Please find time to visit an apple orchard this fall as it’s one of the best ways to spend a fall day.
Fall is officially here and if you’re like me, you’re looking to take advantage of all that the season has to offer. Here is a round up of some great events and places to visit this fall.
New York City Wine & Food Festival: Taking place in multiple venues throughout NYC the weekend of October 11th -14th this food and wine festival is a must see. You can choose from large events featuring television personalities like Giada DeLaurentis to intimate dinners at restaurants like Café Boulud. The festival raises money for Food Bank New York City so you can feel good while you are out enjoying delicious food.
The New York Coffee Festival: From October 12-14th this festival will be held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. This event is about sipping and tasting the best coffee around. It is a mix of coffee professionals, coffee aficionados and tired people looking for a pick-me-up! I attended this event a few years ago and have to tell you there are also loads of delicious sweets to pair with the abundance of coffee.
Pumpkin Patch at Demarest Farms: My children love picking out the perfect pumpkin to decorate ahead of Halloween and Demarest Farms makes it super fun. There is a tractor ride out to the pumpkin patch where you’ll also find some farm animals, apple cider, apple cider donuts and some play structures for the kids. You can purchase your tickets online to save time when you get to the farm!
Apple Picking at Ochs Orchard: This Orchard is the perfect place for a quick getaway from NYC and finding delicious apples. Pick Your Own Apples or just go and enjoy the farm life and get your apples from their market. The market is full of fresh produce and some really delicious small batch jams, jellies and food products. Right up our alley!
Whether you head out to one of these destinations or choose to spend your fall afternoons watching football on tv or maybe playing football in the park, I hope you’ll enjoy what this amazing season has to offer indoors and outdoors.