An Apple a Day October Challenge!
Good Ol’ Apple Pressing
Monday, October 31, 2011
I know I’m cutting it close to this month’s Apple Challenge, but what better day to post than on Halloween? And what better way to celebrate the fall than by a good ol’ apple pressing. This past weekend, some good friends who caretake at the historic Wyck House in Germantown invited a few friends over to press apples in the mansion’s apple press. Although this isn’t a press that dates as far back as some of the historic pieces in the mansion, it’s modeled after the traditional design used in the 1800’s and even before.
If you look at the picture, the apples are sitting in the grinder. The grinder is a cylinder with jagged edges that is attached to a crank wheel on the side. By spinning the wheel, the apples are processed through into small chunks that fall into the basket below lined with cheese cloth. Once the basket is filled, a lid is placed over the apples that fits inside the basket. The lid has a piece of metal on the top with a groove indented into it that will receive the business end of that long threaded rod coming from the top. The handle on top of the rod allows you to screw down the rod, pushing down the lid, and thus pressing the apples. The juice seeps out of the basket and the cloth, onto a tray with a hole at one end, from which that sweet nectar of the autumnal gods pours out.
The fruits of our labor were enjoyed by all as we drank the fresh cider right out of the press. It was amazing how different blends of different apples made juices with different shades, different thicknesses and different levels of sweet or tartness. This also reaffirmed my desire to buy my own press. Aside from the plenty of apples we get during the Fall in this region, I also have Italian black grapes in my yard and two plum trees across the street from my house. So I will have more than enough reasons to press. But after watching the press in action, my good friend Carl and I mused on the possibilities of building our own. I’ll keep you all up to date on our progress. As for now, I’m thankful for this great resource at the Wyck House. The caretakers also do pressing with school groups. For more info, please consult their website.
As a side note, should some of us have wanted to harden up that cider, the method is to take a small amount of sodium bicarbonate and add it to a five gallon glass carboy (available at most homebrew stores) to start the process. After three days of letting it rest, add champagne yeast and then let the fermentation process to begin. For best results, let the cider ferment for two to three months, reracking the cider into different containers two or three times through out the process.
So once again, here’s to fall and apples. Have a safe and fun halloween.
Dutch Apple Pancake
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
My children tend to suck the fun out of eating, since they summarily reject most fruits and vegetables that aren’t either plain and raw or lightly steamed. I find myself avoiding recipes because I don’t want to deal with the trauma of inflicting something as awful as an apple pie upon them. But every once in a while when the kids are out I make something just for me. This past Sunday I tried a Dutch Apple Pancake, also called a German Apple or Puffed Apple pancake.The recipe suggests Granny Smith or Braeburn apples, depending on if you like your pancakes sweet or tart. Since I’d never had one before I used a variety of different apples from my CSA to see which I preferred.
Dutch Apple Pancake
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 apples, sweet or tart, cored and cut into 1/2-inch slices
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbs. granulated sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup half and half
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Confectioners’ sugar for dusting
Preheat an oven to 425ºF.
Melt 2 Tbs. of butter in a 10 inch ovenproof fry pan. Add the apple, cinnamon and granulated sugar and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the apple begins to soften and brown, 5 to 6 minutes. .
Whisk eggs, half and half and vanilla until blended. Sift the flour and salt into the egg mixture and whisk until just blended.
Pour the batter over the apple slices. Bake until the pancake is browned and puffed up, about 20-25 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and serve immediately.
Delicata Squash and Apple Bisque
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Appropriately enough for the October apple challenge, my Thanksgiving stuffing recipe features apples, along with a lot of onions and celery, walnuts or pecans, and fresh sage and thyme. Since it’s not quite time for stuffing yet, I turned that basic inspiration into a smooth, warming soup that also made great use out of the handful of Delicata squash that came out of my garden before all the rain softened up the rest.
There are three apple elements in this soup: a large tart apple, cider mixed into the stock, and a shot of Calvados at the end. If you can’t find Delicata squash in the markets, this soup can be made just as well with any other winter squash, although I think butternut or Kabocha would give the best results. If you prefer to leave out the alcohol, the soup can be finished with a drizzle of cider vinegar instead.
Delicata Squash and Apple Bisque
4 small Delicata squash, cut in half and seeded
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 large or 2 small Honeycrisp, Fuji, or other tart-crisp apple, peeled and diced
2 sprigs fresh sage, leaves julienned
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped off the stems
3 cups vegetable stock
1 ½ cups apple cider
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Calvados, applejack, or brandy
Preheat oven to 400 F. Rub the cut surfaces of the squash with 2 tablespoons of the oil and set rind-up on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast squash until tender all the way through and yielding to the point of a sharp knife. Once cooked, scrape the flesh out of the squash and discard the rinds.
Heat the butter and remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat until the butter has melted. Saute the onion until wilted, then add the celery and apple and continue cooking until soft.
Add the stock, cider, herbs and roasted squash to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, lower the heat and simmer 20 minutes, until the squash has completely broken down into the soup.
Using an immersion blender or food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Stir in the Calvados or brandy, taste, and add more salt and pepper as necessary.
Apple Hand Pies
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Autumn to me means apple pie. I’m really a sucker for a good pie… but apple pie is by far the quintessential fall treat for me. It’s totally cliche.
Lately, in an effort to have on hand a healthy after-school snack for my kids and still fill a craving for apple pies I’ve been baking little apple hand pies. Who can resist?!? Portable, tasty, cute… YUM. These are labour intensive ... but I imagine if you make a big batch you can freeze them to have on hand (no pun intended!) as a quick snack.
The recipe below is a somewhat cobbled-together version of various apple pie recipes. If you have a favourite recipe then go ahead and use that.
Also, I’m not going to go into pastry recipes—just use a pastry recipe that you like and go from there, rolling the pastry out and cutting into rounds. Try and use a pastry that is not too flaky, or your little hand pies won’t hold together too well.
2 lbs apples, peeled, cored, diced
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. lemon zest
Start with about two pounds of baking apples (I used the Galas from my CSA). You can use a mix of apples for a mix of textures if you want.
Peel, core, and dice them. The smaller you dice the apples the easier it will be to fill your hand pies.
Mix the apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest (this is the secret ingredient!) and cook gently for about 10-15 min., or until the apples are just a little soft. Doing this step will keep your handpies from getting soggy!
Spoon out the apple mixture onto your pastry rounds—leave the juice produced from the cooking process behind. It’s sad, I know… but if you don’t want soggy pies then you have to say goodbye to the juice.
Fold your pastry rounds in half, wet the edges, and press together. I used the tines of a fork to do this.
Bake in a 350F oven for about 20min. If you wanted to, you could brush your handpies with a little egg to make the crust shiny, but this is purely aesthetic.
Local Apples: Perfect With Curry
The fall season calls out for curry dishes, but curry powder—which is usually a mix of coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper as well as ginger, garlic, asafoetida, fennel seed, caraway, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed, green cardamom, black cardamom, nutmeg, and black pepper—is not exactly local. You can easily grow fennel seed, mustard seed, coriander, and garlic in Pennsylvania, but many of the other spices require humidity and long growing seasons. More tropical climes. Of course, there’s a way around nearly every problem, so perhaps some adventurous soul will start a curry garden in a greenhouse.
Curry dishes, whether you use local ingredients or not, are often spicy, but they don’t have to be. Take, for instance, today’s Apple a Day challenge dish, curry and apple couscous. Yes, it calls for curry powder, but you can use mild or hot curry. Many of the ingredients can be locally sourced, including the apples. Now is the time of year to scrounge all you can out of your garden, so those scallions and mint lingering in your garden go to good use here, and it’s not hard at all to find locally produced butter (or make your own).
For this simple dish, the star is the apples. Use an apple variety that’s going to hold up under cooking—look for Fujis, Mutus, Granny Smith, or Rome Beauty apples. You can find almost all of these varieties at local orchards in October; the apples used for this recipe are Mutsu apples picked at Linvilla Orchards.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 tablespoon hot curry powder
1/2 a Mutsu apple, cored and chopped
2 scallions, washed, trimmed, and sliced into thin rings
1/2 cup pearled couscous
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup chopped mint
Heat 3/4 of the butter and all the curry powder in a saucepan over medium high heat. Add a few pinches of salt and heat until the curry gives off a fragrant aroma. Add the apples, and cook down for two or three minutes (until apples have softened somewhat). Remove the apples to a bowl. Add the remaining butter to the pan with the curry and add scallions; stirring, allow to cook for approximately one minute. Add water and salt, bring to a boil, and add couscous. Cover the pan with a lid and remove from the burner. Allow the couscous to steam for five to minutes. Return the apples to the pan, along with pine nuts and mint.
This makes enough for two side dish servings or one main dish serving.
The result: a filling meal with a spicy sweetness. Perfect for fall, and a great way to use local apples.
The Sweet Spot: Apple Cheddar Sandwich
Monday, October 10, 2011
For FTP’s Apple Challenge Month, I give you the apple cheddar sandwich—
I’m a big fan of grilled cheese sandwiches in general (House in Media, PA is one of my faves for this reason—six types of grilled cheese? Oh, yeah), but I tend to keep it simple. A little bread, some decent cheese, and I’m a happy girl. So I forget sometimes that adding apple to a cheese toasty is a gorgeous thing. It’s especially good when the apples and the cheese are local.
For this sandwich I combined thin slices of a freshly picked Fuji apple from Linvilla Orchards in Media with shavings of a local cheddar picked up at 320 Market Cafe in Swarthmore. Even the butter is stuff I made myself from locally produced milk. Sadly, the bread is not local.
The heat of the pan heats the apple, but doesn’t make it mushy, and the whole thing becomes this gooey, warm, and sweet treat. Just talking about it makes me want to go make another one.
While any melty cheese will do when making apple grilled cheese, cheddar and brie are my favorites.
An Apple a Day Challenge
Sunday, October 02, 2011
It’s October, and here at Farm to Philly, that means one thing: challenge month!
All month long, please join Farm to Philly writers for the An Apple a Day challenge. If it involves locally grown apples—and this area has some of the tastiest apple varieties imaginable—you’ll see it here. We welcome you to join in the apple challenge!
Gold Rush Apple Time!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
These wonderful apples, possibly the perfect apple, are available for a short period of time from North Star Orchard. To buy them in bulk or to reserve the delicious cider from these apples, there’s a form on their website. You might think that this is overkill, but Gold Rush apple lovers are serious. To see all the hard to find varieties of apples and asian pears (another North Star specialty), visit one of their farmers market locations. If I sound like a commercial, it’s just that their fruit is so good and Ike and Lisa are really nifty people. Check it out.
Modest but Tasty Apple Cake
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Clearly, this was my big day in the kitchen because I also made my favorite apple cake recipe. I’m afraid that only the apples from my Highand Orchards CSA were local, but the eggs were from cage-free hens. This cake is terrific with very ripe pears (especially Bartletts) in place of apples.
1/2 C butter
3/4 C brown sugar (can be mix of brown and white)
2t baking powder
1 3/4C flour (I used 40/60 King Arthur wheat and white flours)
1C chopped walnuts or other nuts, or a couple handfuls of millet are great
4 medium apples, peeled and cut into small chunks or slices—whatever you prefer
10” springform pan or regular cake pan
I use parchment paper for all cake baking b/c it’s so easy to get the cakes out!
Sift the dry ingredients. Cream butter, sugar(s), and vanilla, then add eggs. Add half the dry ingredients, the milk, then dry. Mix in the nuts/millet and apples. Spread in the pan and bake for approx. 40 mins. It makes a great breakfast cake, too.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Aside from the dozen or so we’ve eaten in the past week, the first thing I did with my half bushel of apples picked from Linvilla Orchard was make Jewish Apple Cake. This recipe is not by any stretch of the imagination a recipe that’s been handed down from generation to generation, but a search to see if there was a recipe I might enjoy more than mine returned dozens of family recipes that only slightly differed from the one I’ve been using for the last several years. I guess you just don’t mess with a good thing.
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 cups white sugar
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 4 eggs
* 1/2 cup orange juice
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 3-5 apples - peeled, cored and sliced
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 5 teaspoons white sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 10 inch tube pan. Combine the ground cinnamon and 5 teaspoons of the sugar together and set aside.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and 2 cups of the sugar. Stir in the vegetable oil, beaten eggs, orange juice and vanilla. Mix well.
3. Pour 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with 1/2 of the sliced apples and sprinkle with 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Pour the remaining batter over the top and layer the remaining sliced apples and cinnamon sugar.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 70 to 90 minutes.
My recipe calls for sliced apples but since my toddler was helping me cut them with his plastic Ikea knife I used chunks of apples instead. The recipe did not suffer. The cooking time really does vary depending on the number of apples you use and your oven temperature. I tested the cake after 70 minutes and ended up cooking it for about 85 total. This is a thick, dense, cake. I think it must weigh about ten pounds. I used a bundt pan (because I don’t have a tube pan) so I put some sliced apples at the bottom of the pan to make it look prettier.
Sunday, October 05, 2008
While not a website about supporting local farmers and eating seasonally, A Food Coma is a new blog devoted to New Jersey. And hey, we gotta support Jersey, right?
A Food Coma is a group blog devoted to restaurant reviews, recipes…there’s even a podcast! Their lead story is pretty timely - a recipe for apple pie. We are awash in locally grown apples right now. Linvilla currently has nearly 25 varieties available for picking. The Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal has dozens of varieties from various area farms.
Other local orchards for apple picking: