Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Treats-Apples

One of my favorite things about autumn is the food. While there's nothing saying you can't make them any time of the year, there is just something about autumn-perhaps the colors of the leaves or the cooling weather-that sets the stage for a whole host of delightful foods. Apples are particularly popular this time of year, so I'm going to give you a few fall 'apple' recipes that will make your mouth water.

Apple butter is one of those recipes that works very well all-year round. It's kind of like applesauce, but a bit thinner and more 'spreadable'. Here is a basic recipe.

4 pounds cooking apples-peeled, cored and sliced thinly. Braeburn, Gala and Golden Delicious are especially good for cooking and baking.
4 cups apple cider
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups white sugar

Put the cider and slices in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Then, reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often, until the apples are tender. Drain the mixture through a sieve or strainer and put back into the pot. Stir both types of sugar into the pot and leave to simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the mixture is of an easily-spreadable consistency. Put it into a jar or whatever other container you're using and refrigerate before serving. Makes about 5 cups.

Spread this on your toast or make a peanut-butter sandwich and put it in your child's lunch. I guarantee they'll love it! Put it in a cute little jar and it makes a great gift.

If you're having friends over and want to serve something a little bit different, try these Mediterranean-inspired pizzas. They're roughly personal-sized, so they make great appetizers. This recipe makes 8 small pizzas, so adjust if needed.

Apple and Feta Pan-Fried Pizzas
6 ½ oz dry pizza crust mix
4 apples, cored and sliced
5 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup hot water
1 red onion, sliced thinly
8 oz feta cheese, crumbled
½ tbsp butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 300°. In a bowl, mix the water with the pizza dough mix. Stir with about 25 vigorous strokes until it makes a loose ball. Set the dough in a warm place (perhaps cover with plastic wrap and float on top of hot water) for 5 minutes. On a floured board, divide the dough into 8 sections and knead until you can shape it into rounds.

In a skillet, heat the oil and fry each round until it is lightly browned on both sides. Put them on a cookie sheet and sprinkle the thyme, onion and feta. Bake them for about 10 minutes, or until the feta starts to brown. In the same skillet, heat up the butter and a few springs of thyme. Fry the apples until soft, lay onto pizzas and serve.

You can usually find dry pizza crust mix in the baking section of the grocery store. If you can't find it by itself, get a Chef Boyardee pizza kit and use the mix in that. Some people have used pre-made Boboli crusts in place of the mix, but it's better with the fresh dough.

Since feta has a unique consistency and doesn't always melt as well as other cheeses, you may want to mix it with a bit of olive oil. Some people have also baked the dough without the feta, sprinkled it on top of the apples and then put the finished product in the oven for a bit. For an extra treat, use pears alongside the apples.

In the next post, I will cover another fall favorite-the pumpkin.

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