Good evening from a chilly wintry beach. We went from 80* to 40 in a couple days. My winter clothes are at the drycleaner's box storage; I was so proud of myself in June, sorting an entire chest of drawers for ''transitional'' clothes, capris, little cardis, long sleeve tees, none of which are suitable for the biting winter winds. I put flannel sheets on my bed, never have done that in October. Today I made warm comfort foods for the freezer, mini meatloaf, meatballs in marinara sauce. But what makes the house smell extra delicious is my pan of baked ''fried'' apples.
Before the Pumpkin Cartel hired a press agent who made Fall about pumpkin and pumpkin spice [5 or 6 years ago?], Fall produce was all about fresh crisp apples.
I've mentioned that during my childhood my family didn't consume fruit unless it was on or in an umbrella cocktail, but the exception was just picked apples and apple cider each Fall. Mostly we were given some apple wedges and a chunk of cheddar or Brie as an after school snack, hot tea optional, Constant Comment in a little brown pot. I loved having tea with my mom. As for the snack, I preferred carrots with my cheese but Mom prevailed.
And very occasionally my mom would also produce a few extra yummy apple desserts, crumble, a pie now and then, or baked apples. My dad would make apple fritters and apple donuts
too, like most guys, he loved that deep fryer!
Some years my mother would make big pots of applesauce, preserved in mason jars, always leaving the red skins so the applesauce would be pink. But her most likely to appear cooked apple dish was fried apples, somehow made in a black cast iron skillet, each a perfect creamy crescent dusted with cinnamon. These were served with pork chops or pork roast and mashed potatoes, sometimes alongside meatloaf. We loved them.
I've never managed to fry apples like she did. Mine turn to mush that I pass off as fresh applesauce.
Instead I make my apples either in the regular oven [best] or in the microwave. The microwave apples are nice but they don't caramelize like the oven baked apples.
Here's how: cut four to 6 apples into slender crescents. I peel about half, because I like the skins and they're a pretty color when baked.
Now about apples...I'm a sucker for new and pretty apple varieties. These were from Trader Joe's and were so pretty and ripe and happy: Sweet Tango. And TINY.
Fact is, it's best to choose old fashioned BIG apples for cooking, so much easier to handle and peel.
And the Tango Sweets were hard and spiky flavored---not exactly sour but, uh...? Tangy?].
Last week I used locally grown Honey Crisps, which were fine and smelled great while cooking.
400* for 40 minutes.
Place the apples in a baking dish, one or two layers at most. Add lots of cinnamon, a bit of butter [or my daughter likes ghee, no milkfat], a sweetener of your choice---we used coconut sugar, honey is okay too. Brown sugar isn't wrong but it overwhelms delicate apple taste. Add a blop of cider, you did buy cider, didn't you!? or water, just a bit. 1/8 Cup? Stir gently, put in 400* oven for about 40 minutes ***keep an eye, I'm not sure of the time*** stirring now and then, til fragrant and candied, not wet. If you microwave start with 6 minutes, cover only to prevent spatters. Prob have to micro another 8 minutes in 4 minute intervals.
If the apples were very juicy and the casserole stays wet, dissolve 1/2 T of cornstarch in the cooking liquid, then fold it gently through the cooking apples. This will make the juice thicken immediately so don't cook too long after this optional step.
I love these apples with pork roast and sauerkraut, but they're also a lovely dessert, with a spoonful of plain vanilla yogurt on top. We've been choosing this French yogurt for treats. The little glass jars are super useful too.
Other apple ideas:
Baked diced apples with chunks of butternut squash, fresh herbs, chopped pecans if you have some.
here *I don't put the honey, sometimes add dried or fresh cranberries. Herbs like thyme/ tarragon/ caraway/ fennel to taste. [I'm making this tonight/ Friday/ I'll add a couple pics later!]
Tasty and fragrant, cherries not crans and no walnuts. But the pan was too small, and it came out a bit watery. Single layer works best!
And a Trader Joe's find--fragrant Honey Crisp Apple candles. Only 4.oo. Soy, so clean and long burning. One tin makes the entire house smell great, just in case you didn't fel like cooking. I stocked up; they had a Thanksgiving version too, maybe pumpkin spice-vanilla?
Unlike many pugs, Mo has no interest in eating apples. He's a chicken jerky kinda boy.
Apples are abundant in October ~ I hope you'll find some local varieties to try.
gone to the beach...