Fall finally feels like it’s here for keeps; the temperature has dropped enough that I need a light jacket to run around town in,
the shadows are growing longer, the daylight growing softer, and the ornamental grasses in the park have donned their tassels.
On Saturday at the Tribeca farmers market my favorite edible sign of fall, apples, was out in full force.
I eat an apple every (week)day pretty much without fail. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to eating (see my egg post) and when I’m at work I have an apple around 3:00 or 4:00 because A) it’s good for me and B) I’m always hungry.
I buy my apples from Terhune Orchard on Saturdays at Union Square throughout the winter, spring, and summer because their apples always retain their crisp texture. I’ve tried buying from other farmers and I hate to say it but they often disappoint; their apples are usually soft and mealy, which is just horrible in an apple. Part of an apple's appeal is biting into it and hearing a snappy crunch...
What sets Terhune apples apart is the way they are stored; in addition to keeping them in cold storage at a low temperature (common practice on farms), the room is also equipped to maintain the air’s oxygen concentration at low levels (not so common). Both these factors combined vastly increase the life of an apple.
But it’s fall now so it doesn’t matter which farm I buy my apples from; they are all fresh off the tree, crisp, and delicious. Prospect Hill Orchard comes to the Tribeca farmers market from Ulster County, NY and has a nice selection of apples, including heirloom and organic, as well as the usual suspects.
For the past month I’ve been hoping to cook or bake something with apples but have failed miserably; there never seems to be enough hours in the day. On Saturday morning Ruth Reichl’s tweet sent me over the edge: “Silver sky. Storm’s end. Baking bread perfumes the house with its warm, brown scent as apples, butter, Calvados melt into chunky sauce.”
That’s it; apples here I come! I’m starting with an applesauce dessert and who knows what will be next. Stay tuned.
Applesauce with Butter Walnut Crumbs
Adapted from Gourmet, December 2004
This is so easy! No excuses, people!
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped pecans or walnuts
1 slice firm white sandwich bread with crust, coarsely ground in a food processor (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup bottled chunky applesauce (I made me own; see below)
Garnish: lightly sweetened whipped cream
Heat butter in an 8-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook nuts and bread crumbs with a pinch of salt, stirring constantly, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
Spoon applesauce into a goblet or other glass, then sprinkle with crumb mixture.
Adapted from Gourmet, January 2003
Given whom the tweet came from, I knew exactly where to find a Calvados applesauce recipe. I went to Gourmet online and there it was.
I doubled the recipe and halved the amount of sugar originally called for. I also used Golden Delicious apples because the Gala’s had sold out by the time I got to the stand.
I’m sure you can leave the Calvados out if you want but I found it added a nice depth of flavor.
1 lb Gala apples
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons Calvados
Peel and core apples, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Bring apples, water, sugar, zest, and cinnamon to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan, stirring occasionally, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes.
Remove lid and simmer until most of liquid is evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes. Add Calvados and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Mash apples with a potato masher or a fork to a coarse sauce, then cool.