How about them apples?

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I woke up this morning – swung open the French doors in my kitchen and took a deep breath of the first whiff of fall.  I love autumn after the struggle of summer heat.  And, another hint that beautiful weather is on the way is the growing presence of all kinds of apples in the grocery store.  That’s because prime apple season runs somewhere in the September to November timeframe and if you notice, the apple choices go from 2 –3 to 7 and more.  But I’ve always sort of been clueless when it comes to knowing what kinds of apples to use for different things – especially when it comes to adding heat.  Choose the wrong variety for a pie for instance and you’re apples turn to mush.  Or, if you want a sweet tasting treat, picking up a tart Granny Smith will leave you puckering.

Apple Guidelines:

Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious,
Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala

Apple Salads
Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Golden Delicious,
Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala

Apple Pies
Pink Lady, Golden Delicious,
Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honey Crisp

Apple Sauces
Pink Lady, Golden Delicious,
Granny Smith, McIntosh, Honey Crisp, Gala

Apple Baking
Golden Delicious, Granny Smith

Apple Freezing
Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, McIntosh,
Honey Crisp, Fuji, Gala

Apple Recipes

Now for the good stuff – a couple of new ideas (for me at least!) – the recipes. After checking out the prices of dried apple chips, I made them myself.  Here’s how I did it.

Apple Chips
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.
On a baking sheet – spray it with a little non-stick spray or brush a very, very thin layer of canola oil.  This is just to keep them from sticking.

Now, make an easy simple syrup on your stove.  Mix 1-cup sugar with 1 cup water over medium heat just until simmering – stir to dissolve the sugar.

Now, using a Golden Delicious or McIntosh apple with the skin intact – slice with a very sharp knife – into slices about 1/16 of an inch – very, very thin. 

Now, drop in a handful of the apple slices into the simple syrup and simmer for 20 SECONDS.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the slices from the syrup and put on a cooling rack just to let excess sugar syrup drop off.  Transfer to a single layer on the baking sheet.  When all apples are coated and on the baking sheet, place them in the over for 2  - 2 1/2 hours or until crispy.  They will get a little crispier as they cool.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

Apple, Dried Cherry Turnovers
This is from the Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics cookbook and is a great alternative to apple pie.

1 teaspoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1 1/4 pounds tart apples (Granny Smith – 3 apples)
3 tablespoons dried cherries
3 tablespoons sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1-tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4-teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8-teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
1 package of frozen puff pastry – defrosted
1 egg beaten with 1-tablespoon water for egg wash.

For Optional Icing
I topped mine with a drizzle of a powdered sugar glaze.
Just mix about 1/2 cup powdered sugar with a tablespoon at a time of milk to create a simple glaze.  Using a spoon, drizzle on.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the orange zest and orange juice in a medium bowl.  Peel, quarter and core the apples and then cut them into 3/4-inch dice.  Immediately toss the apples with the zest and juice to prevent them from turning brown.  Add the cherries, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Flour a board and lightly roll each sheet of puff pastry to a 12 x 12 inch square.  Cut each sheet into 4 (6 X 6-inch) squares and keep chilled until ready to use.

Brush the edges of each square with the egg wash and neatly place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture on half of the square.  Fold the pastry diagonally over the apple mixture and seal by pressing the edges of the pastry with the tines of a fork.  Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.  Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, make 2 small slits in each turnover, and bake for 20 minutes until puffy and golden brown.  Drizzle with frosting if desired.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

There you go – now enjoy these wonderful days and nights and sweeten them up even more with some delicious apples!

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