September 8, 2011 12:47:00 PM
This week's welcome cool snap in the Golden Triangle fulfills the calendar's promise: Autumn has not forgotten its appointed rounds and will be knocking on our door before too many more weeks have passed. With it, our culinary thoughts begin to turn toward foods that will soon be at their peak. One of those is apples. We're fortunate that the fruit is available in our grocery stores year-round, but the freshest, tree-ripened apples in our own regional orchards will soon be abundant -- enough to make "an apple a day" imminently do-able.
Many of us learned this time-honored adage at the knees of our mothers: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" (an adaptation of the Old English phrase, "To eat an apple before going to bed will make the doctor beg for his bread").
While the mighty apple doesn't have such all-healing powers, with the skin on, it is packed with heart-healthy antioxidants and phytonutrients. The fruit is rich in dietary fiber and is a good source of vitamins A, C and the B-complex family. It contains, in lesser amounts, iron, calcium and phosphorus. And at 60-80 calories each, it's a great side-kick for the health-conscious.
As a pick-up snack, it's hard to beat taking a bite right out of a crisp Red Delicious or McIntosh variety. But, apples are equally at home in salads and desserts. They go well with meats like chicken, veal and pork, as well. And have you ever considered adding apple to your turkey sandwich? Or marrying it with onion for a flavorful appetizer? Well, today's recipes are just a sample of how many creative ways to get that "apple a day."
There are more than 2,500 kinds of apples grown in the United States. For cooking purposes, it's handy to get familiar with at least a few of them.
Varieties particularly recommended for baking include the Cortland, Rome, Winesap and Northern Spy. Slightly tart varieties include Granny Smith, Rhode Island, Greening and McIntosh. Sweet varieties, especially good for eating out of hand, include Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala and York Imperial. For pies, Golden Delicious keep their shape better than most.
The apple upside down cake recipe today recommends Mild Rome apples. Pink Lady, Honeycrisp or Jonagold varieties work, too.
Learn much more about our country's apple bounty at usapple.org, the site of the U.S. Apple Association.
Tip or two
To make peeling apples easier, recipegoldmine.com and other online sources recommend dipping them quickly in and out of boiling water; the skin will come off more readily.
The age-old issue of preventing sliced apples from browning due to oxidation generates a variety of advice. The most common solution seems to be to dip or brush slices in a little fresh lemon juice. Or, keep slices in a bowl of cold water that's had lemon juice added. (Sprite, 7 Up or ginger ale poured over slices in a zip-lock bag are reported to work, as well. Blot slices dry when you remove them.)
In the kitchen, keep in mind that two large apples or three medium apples will yield about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of chopped or sliced apples, according to about. com.
Enjoy the milder temperatures while they last, and try out some of the lighter apple recipes as the dog days of summer wane. Then relish the change of season when it arrives in earnest, with some of the others. One of today's recipes just may turn out to be the "apple of your eye."
SUMMER APPLE SALAD
Makes 12 servings
3 medium tart red apples, diced
3/4 cup pineapple tidbits, drained
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 cup grape halves
1 medium carrot, shredded
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
For the topping:
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
3 cups (1/4-inch-thick) slices peeled Rome apples (about 2 large)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
For the cake:
5 3/10 ounces cake flour (about 1 1/3 cups)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
3 large egg whites
(Source: Kathy Farrell-Kingsley, Cooking Light/myrecipes.com)
TOASTED TURKEY, BRIE AND APPLE SANDWICH
4 slices rye bread
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons apple butter
1/2 pound thinly sliced roasted turkey
4 ounces brie cheese, thinly sliced
1 cup baby arugula
1 Gala apple, sliced
(Source: Louise Galen/myrecipes.com)
SAVORY ONION AND APPLE TART
Makes 16 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium onions, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced (about 3 cups), divided
1 can (13.8 ounces) refrigerated pizza dough (such as Pillsbury)*
1/2 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dry thyme
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.