Across much of North America, the onset of fall brings with it the delightful promise of a colorful crop of fresh apples. As the days grow shorter and a bit chillier, many farms open their gates to allow visitors to choose the best from an assortment of red, green and yellow beauties, fragrant and fresh from orchard boughs. In this article you’ll learn how to make the most of these treats, which can be used in a much wider variety of dishes than the traditional tarts, sauces and pies.
From Alabamas to Winesaps there are dozens of different Apple varieties from which to choose, each of which possesses a different texture (from crisp to soft) and flavor (from tart to sugary sweet). While many farms and farmers markets allow you to taste their wares before purchasing, it’s a good idea to do some research first regarding the different types of apples so that you know what to expect beforehand. Most varieties of apple brown quite quickly after being cut, so be sure to cook/consume the entire apple right away, and store any whole leftovers in a cool, dark place. If it’s essential for the apple to stay pretty for a few hours after being cut, sprinkle the cut part with some lemon juice to slow the oxidation process.
One great gourmet option for those seeking a sweet apple treat is Apple Calvados Fritters. With this French delicacy you get to enjoy a double dose of delectable fruit, as it includes fresh apples marinated in apple brandy (Calvados). You may want to double the recipe, as these sugar-coated, mouth-watering donuts have a tendency to disappear quickly! If you’re a diehard apple fan, then you’ll want to serve this dessert with a glass of Calvados itself. This Norman sensation possesses a wonderfully fruity aroma, ranging from silky to intense depending on the closely-guarded recipe used by each maker. Calvados is also enjoyed by the French in the middle of a meal to help improve digestion, in which case it is referred to as a "Trou Normand," or "Norman hole" (referring to the notion that a good Calvados should burn a hole in your stomach so you can enjoy more food)!
Another novel apple-based goodie is Roasted Stuffed Apples with Marzipan and Walnuts. This Bavarian dessert is quite healthful due to its vitamin and protein-rich apple and nut content, all held together with only a small amount of butter and icing sugar—here, the apples truly take center stage, yielding a fragrant final product with a whimsical presentation.
Of course, apples should not be confined exclusively to the desert realm but can in fact lend a divine hint of sweetness to otherwise savory dishes. One great way to kick off a warming autumn meal is by serving an Apple Veloute of Normandy. Leeks, celery, garlic and prawns establish a staunchly savory flavor profile to this creamy and satisfying soup, yet the dish would not be nearly as appetizing without that essential sweet apple undertone. If you’re looking to pair apples with a protein-rich main course, you can’t go wrong with Pan Seared Duck Breasts in Honey Apple Sauce. The richness of the duck meat calls for a lighter, sweeter accompaniment, and this recipe calls for a honey-vinegar combined with fresh apple slices which more than fits the bill! When the apple slices combine with the fragrant duck fat in the final preparation, you’ll know for sure that this is not grandma’s classic applesauce!
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