What’s your favorite type of apple?
For a short period, I had an apple blog on the Carroll County Times website where I wrote about different varieties of apples, where I found them and tried to describe how they taste.
A lot of friends know how much I like apples, so every now and then they will come across a new variety and ask me if I’ve had it yet. Sometimes I have, like Opal, but other times it gives me something to keep an eye out for. Apparently, Whole Foods gets more new apple varieties than some other competitors.
I love lots of varieties of apples, particularly ones that are crunchy and have that sweet-tart flavor, which I think is best exemplified by Pink Lady apples. I also really like this kind of newish one at Baugher’s, Ever Crisp. And when there’s nothing new at the traditional grocery store, or Pink Lady or Honeycrisp are too expensive, I go for Gala or Fuji, which are both crunchy, a degree of sweet-tart, and almost always affordably priced.
At the end of August, an article ran on the New York Times website claiming that “The Long, Monstrous Reign of the Red Delicious Apple Is Ending.” For more than 50 years, the Red Delicious has been the most grown apple, but the U.S. Apple Association believes that it will be surpassed this year by the Gala. Frankly, I’m surprised it has taken this long. As the article stated, Red Delicious is a variety that was bred for color, and its mild, mealy insides aren’t cutting it against the newer, sweeter, firmer varieties.
Last year I read an article about a new variety they’re raising in Washington state, the Cosmic Crisp. As of last year, 12 million trees of it had been ordered, and the first harvests will hit grocery stores in fall 2019. I’m just hoping I don’t have to drive to a Whole Foods to get one.
OK, enough geeking out over apple varieties. Last week I shared apple desserts, and as promised, this week I wanted to talk about some more savory ways to use apples. First up, an apple and beet slaw. This still uses cabbage and carrots, but the crunch addition of apples and raw beets makes it sweet and colorful. This would go great with a pulled pork sandwich during an upscale football-watching party.
Second, I found this recipe for Brussels sprout and apple tart with a homemade walnut pesto. I’ve been craving Brussels sprouts, and I’ve used the combination of the cabbagey sprouts with apples before. Here you make a sauce out of walnuts, Parmesan cheese and olive oil, spread it over some pre-toasted puff pastry. You top that with a little more Parmesan cheese, then the pre-cooked Brussels sprouts and apples, and a little more Parmesan cheese, and finally top if off with some dried cranberries, which firmly make this a fall food. Mmmm, delicious.
And finally, a recipe for a homemade quick jam of apples and pears flavored with cinnamon, ginger and pepper cardamom, which you put on the inside of a baked brie in puff pastry. This recipe does call for a quarter cup of sugar, so it could be argued that it’s not that savory after all, but I say the dessert test is would you order it at the end of your meal, or at the beginning. This is a meal opener, my friends, and the perfect distraction for when your roast or turkey breast isn’t finished cooking yet.
All hail the many uses of the apple, and enjoy!
Apple and beetroot slaw
2 beetroots, peeled
2 carrots, peeled
Half head of a small white cabbage
¼ cup mayonnaise
Begin by grating or julienning all of your vegetables, set aside. Grate the apple and then place in a colander or sieve. Squeeze the grated apple to try and remove as much juice as possible.
Place all of your fruit and veg into a large bowl. Add the mayonnaise. Stir well together and season as desired, then serve.
Brussels sprout and apple tart with walnut pesto
¾ cup raw walnuts
¾ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 medium apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Put the walnuts, ¼ cup of cheese, and olive oil in a food processor and process until crumbly. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallot and cook for about 5 minutes, until softened.
Stir in the Brussels sprouts and apple slices; cook about 10 minutes more, or until apples and sprouts are beginning to brown. Stir in the maple syrup and thyme, then remove from heat and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place the puff pastry on baking sheets lined with Silpats or parchment paper; roll the pastry out to about 9 by 12 inches. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Gently press down the center of the pastry, leaving a 1-inch margin on all sides.
Sprinkle the pesto onto the crust, then top with half the cheese, the sprouts and apples, then the remaining cheese. (You might have some of the sprout mixture leftover.) Return to the oven for 5 more minutes to melt the cheese, then top with the cranberries. Cut each tart into 6 pieces and serve.
Baked brie en croute with apple and pear jam
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 apple, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
1 pear, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch dice
¼ cup sugar
1 small cinnamon stick (or ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
⅛ teaspoon ground cardamom
1 (6- to 8-ounce) round Brie or Camembert cheese, slightly chilled (see note)
All-purpose flour, for dusting
10-inch square puff pastry dough, kept cold, rolled out to ¼-inch thickness
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Preheat a medium saucepan over medium heat, add butter, and swirl until melted. Add apple and pear and cook, stirring occasionally, until fruit is tender and has released most of its liquid, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in sugar, cinnamon stick or ground cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 12 to 15 minutes longer. Discard cinnamon stick, if used. Remove from heat and let compote cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a sharp knife, cut cheese in half horizontally (through the middle). Lay one half on a work surface, cut side up, and spread 3 tablespoons of compote evenly over it. Place second half on top and spread another 3 tablespoons compote over it.
Place puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface and roll to an even ¼-inch thickness. Set prepared cheese in center of square, fold dough up and over, and pleat it together on top to enclose cheese. Gently pinch dough together in center to seal gathered pleats. You can tie a bit of kitchen twine on top to hold pleats together if you like, but this is not essential. If dough is no longer cold, chill wrapped cheese for at least 20 minutes. (Cheese can be wrapped tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerated until ready to bake.)
Set prepared cheese wheel on prepared baking sheet. Brush dough evenly with egg wash. Bake until pastry is crisp and golden brown all over, 25 to 35 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter. Serve any remaining compote alongside.