Apple Harvest: 3 Easy Ideas
Aside from their health benefits–you know, the old “apple a day” cliche–apples really are pretty amazing. This time of year, when you can find more and fresher apples (especially if you have any orchards nearby), apples are especially good: juicy and firm, so much better than apples that have been shipped across half a dozen states and then stored for months.
Even as a beginning cook, there are lots of ways you can enjoy the apple harvest that don’t involve the hassle of a pie crust. When you buy apples for these recipes, check the skin to make sure it’s not cut open, and check for bruises. Apples should be firm and smell–well, like an apple. Not like mold or dirt or anything else. Buy enough for the recipe you’re making, and one or two extra to grab as a quick, portable snack. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Adapted from a recipe by Mollie Katzen, of Moosewood Restaurant fame.
1 Boboli pizza shell (thin)
3 to 4 medium-sized tart apples, such as Granny Smith, cored and sliced into wedges (peeling is optional)
1 – 2 tablespoons sugar (depends on how tart the apples are)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup apricot jam (optional, for glaze)
Preheat oven to 400. Set the pizza shell on a baking tray. Place apple slices on pizza shell in a spiral pattern until shell is covered.
In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture on top of apples. Bake pizza for 15 minutes, just until apples are starting to brown at the edges.
For the optional glaze, while the pizza is cooling, melt the jam over low heat in a small saucepan. Brush melted jam gently over the apples ad let set for about 15 minutes. You can serve the apple pizza hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Apple Shortbread Pie
Not quite as much fuss as a pie–and just as good!
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 egg, beaten to blend
1 pound apples (4 or 5 of your favorite kind)
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
For crust: Preheat oven to 400. In a large bowl, blend flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and cut together until small crumbs form. (You can use a pastry cutter, or a knife and fork to do this. Some people just use their fingertips, rubbing the butter and flour mixture together until it looks like coarse cornmeal.) Drizzle the beaten egg over the flour mixture and mix, using a spoon, just until large crumbs form. Do not form a ball.
Pat 3/4 of the mixture into the bottom of an 8-inch square pan, and set aside.
For filling: Mix apples, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl.
Pour apples into crust. Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture over the top. Place pan on a baking sheet (in case juices overflow), and bake for 15 minutes. Turn oven temperature down to 350, and continue baking about 20 more minutes, until the top is light brown and the filling bubbles. Cool for 30 minutes before serving.
Homemade Apple Sauce
If you find yourself with more apples than you can possibly use in a reasonable time, this is an easy way to use them up. Homemade applesauce is great with oatmeal, or pancakes, or on its own.
Peel, core, and dice apples into a slow cooker or a large pan with a tight fitting cover. Add about 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar (granulated or brown or a mixture) per 5 pounds of apples. (If you like sweeter applesauce, you can add more sugar.) Add about 1 tablespoon cinnamon. Cover and cook the apples over low heat for several hours, stirring occasionally.
When the apples are soft and break apart as you stir them, uncover the pan to allow excess moisture to evaporate. (If you want to impress people, have them come over at this stage–your house will smell wonderful.) If you like chunky applesauce, you can use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to break up any remaining apple chunks. If you like smooth applesauce, once the mixture is cool, puree it in the blender in batches.
Store in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 6 months.