Last year I discovered that I actually enjoyed apples. I realize they are one of the most basic things on the planet and I won’t even pretend to touch on their historical or metaphorical influence, but let’s just say that the apple never made its way into my list of food cravings or desires. I never bothered picking any up at the market, I never found them particularly sexy or exciting and I figured as long as I worked on Mac computers I was surrounded enough by them. Then a little thing happened where I tried a new crop Vasquez apple and realized what all the fuss was about. Apart from being nutritional gems, I was pleasantly surprised that an apple could be crisp, non-mealy, pleasant, and provide a happy balance between tart and sweet, or even not so sweet and just overall refreshing. Ok ok, I know what you’re thinking: um, could Matt come to this apple party any later in life? It’s ok, I completely agree. In fact I had never really shared my blasé attitude about them until it was replaced by my love affair with apples.
Now it seems I have random apples wherever I go. They are the perfect snack for me because they are portable, durable, fit in my computer bag and allow me to save those annoying little stickers with the PLU on them and put them on my fingernails and point at things until people notice. Plus they signal the arrival of fall and all the good stuff that is to come. It’s that new-crop versus cold-storage thing, not that I don’t eat the latter. And on rare occasions the apple allows me to observe mother nature’s miraculous break down of plant matter when a stray apple rolls out of my bag and under the passenger seat of my car, scenting my ride with the happy smell of Pink Lady* before giving way to the odor of rotting flesh, its origin alluding me until I take my vehicle to the car wash. And here I thought it was just the smell of Carson, California.
For those moments when I’m not enjoying an apple out of hand it’s also become my favorite in the kitchen. Last week I all but fainted when, on the recommendation of a friend, I added sliced green apple to a sandwich of rye bread and Allgäuer Bergkäse, a full-flavored artisan German cheese (take that, you locovores!) Do I really need to tell you how good life was tasting at that moment? Of course not. Because you already love apples and have for years. However, I haven’t, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my apple epiphany. Appiphany. Epiphanapple. Ok I’ll stop now.
I’m looking forward to all sorts of apples and figuring out their best use in the kitchen. Not just for desserts, I’m seeing a pork tenderloin with some Granny Smiths or even an apple and brie quesadilla — and yes, as dated and fusion-y as that sounds it still tastes good. Plus I’m Mexican-American which gives me an excuse to put anything inside a tortilla.
The following recipes were developed last year by my amazing friend Cindie. She’s not only a talented stylist but also a graphic designer and a real Motorcycle Mama and one of the sweetest gals you’d ever want to meet. Cindie, if you’re reading this on your iphone somewhere on the open road, call me! Or actually put the phone down and just drive. Don’t make me worry about you. Anyway, now that the temperatures have dipped a bit and baking can resume I think it’s a perfect time for tarts and pies and galettes, don’t you? Besides, we have to get our practice in before Thanksgiving. And about this salad: it’s creamy and crunchy and perfect with pork sandwiches. Oh there I go with pork and apples again. Yum.
Green Apple Galette
Whenever I try my hand at galettes I end up with a rustic (read: messy) irregular shape, but it still tastes just as good. Try this with vanilla ice cream, some sweetened whipped cream or even a drizzle of caramel sauce. And I bet you thought I was going to say dulce de leche.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chilled butter,
cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5-6 Pippin or Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup apricot preserves
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Make the crust by mixing flour and salt together in a food processor. Add butter and pulse on and off until mixture resembles very coarse meal. Add half of the ice water and process until moist clumps form, sprinkling more water on dough if it’s too dry. Press dough into a ball then flatten into a disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile peel, core, and cut apples in half. Slice each apple half into 1/8 inch thick slices, keeping apple halves together. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside.
Roll out dough on a well-floured surface to 12 inches across. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle flour and 1/4 cup sugar dough. Arrange sliced apple halves on top leaving a 3-inch border. Sprinkle remaining sugar on top of apples. Fold edge of dough over and up to make a raised edge. Pinch edge with fingers or a fork to seal.
Bake in preheated oven 40-50 minutes, or until apples are tender and crust is deep golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
Heat apricot preserves in a small saucepan until heated through. Using a pastry brush, coat top of tart with preserves.
Autumn Apple and Potato Salad
I have a fundamental problem with salads that douse themselves with jarred dressings. However, I’m willing to overlook my snobbiness and just go with it for this recipe. Why? Because it’s delicious–though you can go easy on the dressing if you’d like.
2 lbs small red potatoes, unpeeled, steamed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 large Fuji apples, unpeeled,
cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Italian parsley,
1 1/2 cups blue cheese or
ranch salad dressing
1/2 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
Cook potatoes and once cooled cut into 1/2-inch dice. Toss potatoes with all the ingredients and serve immediately. To prevent discoloration of the apples, toss the slices with lemon juice before adding to the salad.
* The variety, not the musical group. Although I did think they wore fierce outfits and I love their music.