Arlene's Cuisine

September and apples just go together. I have fond memories of my grandmother’s apple orchard, which had several varieties of apples, but my favorite were the big pink and white ones, the name of which I can’t remember. I think they were called Duchess but can’t be sure.

There are so many memories of those trees, from the clouds of pink and white blossoms and what I called the “10-pound bumblebees” that kept busy pollinating the trees in the spring to the final fruit in the fall.

Winter varieties were wrapped in newspaper and kept us going through the winter, and of course there were quarts and quarts of applesauce laced with cinnamon,  plus a cinnamon stick in each jar, which were canned in the fall. Warm applesauce served with poured cream was a favorite fall dessert.

Today’s recipes offer some ways to use apples, and if you aren’t lucky enough to have a tree of your own, there are plenty of apples in the produce section of stores. Making your own apple pie from scratch is a bit more work but well with it, and it really welcomes fall.

 

Apple Cake

with Caramel Sauce

Cake:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1½ cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda (¾ teaspoon for Salida’s elevation)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
  • 1¼ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1¼ teaspoons orange zest

 

Sauce:

  • 3 cups whipping cream
  • 2 cups sugar
  • ¾ tablespoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks and softened

Whisk the oil, eggs, brown sugar and vanilla for the cake. Add the flour, spices, soda, salt, apples, nuts and zest and stir until well blended. Pour into a 10-inch springform pan (lightly floured and greased) and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the sauce, heat the cream in a pan to a boil and remove from the heat. Dissolve the sugar in ½ cup of water over heat, stirring constantly until the syrup comes to a boil. Continue boiling until it turns gold in color. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until it becomes a deep caramel color. Remove from heat and add the cream slowly in a stream, stirring as you bring the mixture back to a boil. When the caramel has dissolved, remove mixture from the heat and cool about 40 minutes. Whisk in the vanilla, eggs and the yolk, add butter, a little at a time, stirring after each addition, and then continue stirring until the butter is absorbed. Makes 4 cups of sauce. The sauce can be made a day or two ahead and kept cold.

To serve, remove sides of the pan and cut the cake into slices. Warm the sauce if it’s been chilled and pour some onto each dessert plate. Set the cake on top and then garnish the cake with whipped cream and chopped nuts.

 

Maple and Apple

Cheddar Cheese Pie

  • Your favorite pastry for double crust pie
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups peeled, thinly sliced apples
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • ¼ cup toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts

Heat oven to 375 degrees and prepare pastry. Roll out the bottom crust and place in a 9-inch pie pan.

Prepare filling in a bowl, stirring sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt together, then adding the apples. Toss to coat the apples. Add cheese and 4 tablespoons of the maple syrup. Place the apple mixture into the pie pan and drizzle with cream. Roll out the top crust and place it on top, crimping the edges and cutting slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Cover the edges with foil or one of those rings you can get in the “gadget” sections of stores to keep the edges of the crust from getting too dark. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove the foil (or the pie rings) and bake another 30 minutes until crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the crust with the remaining 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. If desired, sprinkle with chopped nuts. Cool about 1 hour and serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Apple Squares

  • 1½ cups flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder (scant ½ teaspoon for Salida’s elevation)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tart medium apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch square pan. Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, lemon zest, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl. Work in the oil and the apple juice concentrate until coarse crumbs form. Press 2 cups of the oat mixture into the pan. Arrange apples over the crust. Add the chopped nuts to the remaining crust and sprinkle over the apples. Pat into an even layer. Bake  about 35 minutes until the top is golden brown and apples are tender. Cool on a wire rack before cutting to serve. Serves 16.

 

Liver and Onions

with Apples

  • 4 slices bacon
  • ½ stick unsalted butter
  • 2 thinly sliced onions
  • 3 tart apples
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1½ pounds liver (preferably calf’s) cut in thin strips
  • Fresh parsley

Cook bacon until it is crisp and drain on paper towel. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter and cook the onions over moderate heat, stirring until they are light golden color. Add the apples, which have been peeled, cored and cut into eighths. Cook until the apples are light gold in color. Add the vinegar, sugar and wine and boil until thickened.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in another skillet, pat the liver dry and sauté, turning every 4 to 5 minutes and cooking until it is browned and just slightly pink inside. Arrange liver over the apple mixture, crumble the bacon and sprinkle on top. Sprinkle chopped fresh parsley on top of that. Garnish with fresh parsley sprigs and lemon wedges if desired. Serves six.