Tag Archive for apple

Quince & Apple Tart with Virginia All-Spice

Photo by Molly Peterson (http://www.mollympeterson.com/) for FoodShed Magazine

Those who have read my blog for a while know of the fondness I have for quince – that almost forgotten fruit. Most of the cultivars grown in our area (and they aren’t that many, although they do exist) need to be cooked to bring out their surprisingly floral aroma.That’s probably why it has fallen out of favor: you can’t just bite into it. I have read though that there are cultivars tasty enough for that. But the quince we get here, you have to cook. And how well you will be rewarded.

It is lovely mixed with apples. But if you cannot find quince, use a good home-made or store- bought apple sauce, preferably unsweetened. Virginia allspice (also called spicebush) is a native understory shrub (Lindera benzoin) whose berries ripen to vermillion in late summer and early fall and taste very similar to the true tropical allspice, with a more peppery bite. I collect the berries in the fall and freeze them until needed. Omit them or use allspice if you do not have access to them.

Yes, the tart shell takes some planning. But the crust won’t be soggy!

I prefer to mix apples for a variety of texture and taste, and prefer to avoid apples that remain really firm when cooked.

Recipe for the Quince & Apple Tart with Virginia All-Spice on the FoodShed magazine web site

Prior entries on quince:

– a compendium of recipes from other blogs

– a non-exhaustive list of what to do with quince + quince ice-cream recipe

Crepes from the Piedmont

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On February 2, in Punxsutawney, PA, Phil the Groundhog is most unwillingly thrust into forecasting the next 6 weeks’ weather (most unwillingly indeed as he is – apparently – wrong 61% of the time). But you know, no matter what poor Phil does or does not do, we are now halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and receiving 10 hours of sunlight a day again! And that, ladies and gentlemen, is cause for celebration, even if only a modest one.

So whether you celebrate Ground Hog Day, Candlemas, St Brigid’s Day, Imbolc, or just want to have a fun family evening, I propose we make crepes. Listen: if you can make pancakes, chances are you can make crepes! The basic ingredients are the same after all (flour, eggs & milk), the proportions different. As when making pancakes, a cast-iron skillet is the most practical choice. There is absolutely no need for a special crepe skillet: I do not have one.  Fun and easy to make, sweet or savory, sophisticated or homey, crepes are our friends – and they are coffee-friendly, hard-cider friendly and, without a doubt, wine friendly!

If you want to read more and get the recipe for Vanilla Crepes stuffed with Almond Creme and served with Maple Caramelized Apples (and suggestion as what to drink with that) please head over to the Virginia Wine Gazette On-Line where editor and wine expert Mary Ann Dancisin asked me to do a “Virginia Edible” blog post. Except for the almonds and vanilla, those crepes can be Virginia grown…

Of Apples and Apple Soup

Gala, Crispin (or Mutsu), Fuji, Honeycrisp, Rhode Island Greening, York, McIntosh, Jonathan & Jonagold, Stayman Winesap, even Golden Delicious (one of MY favorites), Red Delicious & Granny Smith: those are just a few of the cultivars of apples available for pick up at our local orchards. As the season continues, the late apples will come in, such as the Black Arkansas and the Lady apple, a small perfumed apple that will keep well into February.

Trio of applesThe names dance in a litany of languages – there are more than 7,500 cultivars of orchard apple, Malus domestica. Some were bred purposefully, such as Jonagold, a cross between Jonathan and Golden Delicious developed in 1943 in New York. Others were chance seedlings judged good enough to be propagated, such as Golden Delicious discovered on the farm of Anderson Mullins in Clay County, West Virginia in 1912, and the official apple of the State of West Virginia since 1955. The Rhode Island Greening is an old, historic American apple variety that originated in 1650 in Newport, Rhodes Island: it’s – surprise! – the official apple of Rhode Island. The Spitzenberg that originated in Esopus, New York, in the mid 18th century was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson: it’s still grown at Monticello, and is sometime available at farmstands in Virginia.

But while we think of apples as “American”, the fruit was brought to the new world by settling Europeans whose ancestors had received it hundreds or thousands of years before. Apples originated in the central mountainous provinces of Eurasia (where they still grow wild in an incredible array of shapes, forms, colors and tastes) and were spread over 10,000 years ago, by nomadic population of hunters/gatherers who “settled down” as they started to cultivate crops. The apple made its way to China, India, the Middle-East and Europe thousands of years ago. Remains of apples were found in excavation of Jericho and dated to about 6,500 BC. Dried apples sliced were placed in royal tombs of modern Southern Iraq around 2500 BC to be found by modern archeologists. Homer mentions apples in the Odyssey. The Romans cultivated apples extensively (the Lady apple is thought to come straight from that ancient time when it was known as Api apple – it’s still called Api in French today, the “pomme d’Api”). The Romans disseminated the apples to the far corners of their empire including the British isles where only crab apples (different species altogether) where known until then. And the British brought it to their American colonies.

When one picks up an apple, one picks up more than just a fruit: one picks up a piece of our human story that dates back to before records were written and a piece of our common heritage.

Now you want a recipe? Oh… Ok, but there is no picture – yet.

How about apple & carrot soup, linking two important fresh produce of fall? It’s one of the recipes I taught on my recent “Cooking with Apples” workshop. Read more

When you Have Green Apples, Make Sorbet

Green Apple Sorbet

I love to the capture the essence of fruit in fruit based-desserts, but I don’t care to bake in summer – well, not too much. I also detest wasting food. So here we are, late June, and the apples need to be thinned, or they’ll thin themselves (and what a waste that will be!) or the fall harvest won’t be quite as good. In late June, those thinnings are of honorable size, perfectly good for apple sauce actually – but just not fully ripe. So what’s a girl to do (beside apple sauce?): Minty Green Apple Sorbet, a simple-to-make concoction, delicate and refreshing – definitively a summer dessert!

I normally make that sorbet in the fall with green apples (green as in color, not maturity) such as Granny Smith. They give the sorbet a faint green color that’s just lovely and the tartness that comes through is just wonderful. But this is June (well July, but I made the sorbet in June) and there is no local Granny Smith apples to get until the Fall. So big thinnings it will be. To be sure it worked, I made the sorbet three times. Since the household comments were positive, here is the recipe. (If you try it, let me know how you like it) Read more