I had just finished my evening rituals with Gratsie (my Maine Coon cat) and was about to leave the family room when our guest cook sister entered the room waving her camera at me with a look in her eye that told me she was pleased with something she wanted to show me…
With one innovative idea she had succeeded in transforming our popular summer tart into a Fall/Winter version using apples and cranberries laced with caramel sauce, replacing the usual summer strawberries, peaches and nectarines.
A graceful (and delicious) transition from one season to another with an amazing result! We both smiled as the cat swished her tail, and we all went to bed purring.
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Cran-Apple Compote with Meringue and Caramel Sauce
Separate one egg at a time into a small bowl, letting the white fall into the bowl and discarding the yolk. If there’s any trace of yolk in the white, discard the white and start over. If it’s yolk-free, transfer to a clean medium mixing bowl. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs.
Add cream of tartar to the whites and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.
Slowly add sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, until all the sugar has been added. Continue beating until the whites are stiff and glossy. Add vanilla and beat for 30 seconds more.
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a small amount of the meringue under each corner of the paper to secure it to the pan.
Fill a 1-quart sealable plastic bag (or pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip) with the meringue. Seal the bag almost completely, leaving a small opening for air to escape from the top as you squeeze.
Snip off one corner of the bag with scissors, making a 3/4-inch-wide opening. Fold the top of the bag over a few times, then gently push the meringue down to the snipped corner.
Working with the bag perpendicular to the baking sheet, pipe the meringue into 2-inch-diameter tarts, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.
Bake the tarts until dry and crisp throughout, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the pans to wire racks and let the tarts cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.
Peel and chop the apples of your choice. Sprinkle with lemon juice to prevent browning and set aside. For this recipe, we used Golden Delicious.
In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter and add the chopped apples on medium
Add the sugar and seasonings to the apples and cook until fork-tender. Keep an eye on the apples and sugar, reduce heat if needed. The sugar should melt into a consistency similar to syrup. Turn the heat down if sugar starts to caramelize.
Add the whole cranberries and cook a few minutes more until the cranberries start to burst. If you prefer, cook a bit longer to cook the cranberries a little more, adding sugar as necessary, depending on how tart the berries are.
Remove from heat, set aside and arrange the meringues on a plate or serving platter.
Gently heat the caramel sauce and spoon into the center of the meringue, tumbling the Cran-Apple compote on top. Drizzle with extra caramel sauce if desired.
Serve at room-temperature and pair this tangy-sweet seasonal dessert with a steaming cup of tea, coffee or pressed cider!
Many years ago, we had a cookbook from Maine that had the most extraordinary apple pie recipe. It had a layer of crushed graham crackers and caramel sauce underneath the apples. We lost that cookbook in the move to our new kitchen, but every fall when the apples are being harvested I think back to this recipe. This year, I decided to re-create it in an apple crisp. It sure took less time than making a pie, but the flavor combination was there.
For gluten-free cooking, try substituting gluten-free cookies for the graham crackers and brown rice flour for the flour. I think you might be pleased.
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Graham Cracker Apple Crisp with Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
6cupsapple(s)peeled and sliced (6-8 apples: gala or honeycrisp recommended)
Filling: Toss apples together with brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and the melted butter.
Topping: Melt butter in a medium bowl and add all other topping ingredients. Mix until crumbly and evenly mixed.
Sprinkle over apples and pat down lightly. Bake at 350º for about 30-40 minutes, until apples are soft and the filling bubbles and the crisp is golden.
Meanwhile make Salted Caramel Sauce: Add the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of a medium saucepan. Heat the sugar over medium-high heat, whisking it as it begins to melt. It's okay if the sugar begins to form clumps- keep whisking and as it continues to cook, they will melt back down. Stop whisking once all of the sugar has melted, and swirl the pan occasionally while the sugar cooks.
Continue cooking until the sugar has reached a deep amber color. It should look almost a reddish-brown, and have a slight toasted aroma. This is the point where caramel can go from perfect to burnt in a matter of seconds, so keep a close eye. If you are using an instant-read thermometer, it will be around 350 degrees F. Watch this step very carefully!
Remove the caramel from the heat and add the butter all at once. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble up when the butter is added. Whisk the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted.
Slowly pour the cream into the caramel. Again, be careful because the mixture will bubble up ferociously.
Whisk until all of the cream has been incorporated and you have a smooth sauce. Add the fleur de sel or kosher salt and whisk to incorporate.
Set the sauce aside to cool for 10 to 15 minutes and then pour into jars. The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 month.
Serve crisp warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and salted caramel sauce.
Cider, apples, yams, and pork chops. What could better express Autumn in the form of a meal? With a daily collection of apple drops from our trees in the orchard we have been having them in many ways each day: homemade cider, spicy apple butter on crispy warm toast, and tangy applesauce as an accompaniment to most anything, but tonight they made their appearance for the first time in a main meal, and what a successful debut this was! One would hardly expect something so simple to be so successful in pleasing so many.
The yams and apples were simply quartered and roasted on a sheet pan while the chops were seared and simmered in cider — which was reduced to a surprisingly flavorful sauce, tying everything into a perfect expression of the Fall season.
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Cider-Glazed Pork Chops with Roasted Yams and Apples
CHANGE SERVING SIZE
1lb.yamspeeled, halved lengthwise & cut crosswise into 2 in. slices
Preheat oven to 450º Fahrenheit. Mix yams, apples, rosemary, 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Spread yam mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until potatoes are browned and tender, about 25 minutes, turning halfway through baking time.
Season pork with 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Heat remaining oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add pork, and cook until golden brown and center is barely pink, about 5 minutes per side. Place 1 chop each on 4 individual dinner plates, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in skillet.
Reduce heat to medium, and add cider. Bring to a simmer, stirring to loosen browned bits from skillet. Whisk in mustard, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter until melted and incorporated. Sprinkle with remaining salt and pepper. Drizzle sauce over chops. Divide yam mixture among plates, and serve immediately.
Apple Fritters… crunchy, sweet, and melt-in-your-mouth on the outside, cinnamon-y dough with apple chunks on the inside. I can’t think of a better use for our apple drops that we are collecting in the early hours of the morning. A delightful early morning treat to pair with a steaming cup of coffee on a crisp fall morning.
Pour oil into a cast iron or other heavy duty skillet so that it is approximately 1 ½” deep. Heat oil on medium high. Oil is ready when dough floats to top. (don’t let it get too hot or the fritters will burn!)—do a little tester with the dough to be sure the oil is hot enough.
Prepare the glaze by stirring the milk (or half and half) and sifted powdered sugar together in a small bowl—you want it to be a fairly thick glaze.
Prepare the fritter by combining the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in milk, vanilla and egg until just combined (add enough milk to make a thick batter).
Fold in apple chunks
Carefully add dough to the oil in heaping tablespoons. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, then flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are browned.
Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack.
Drizzle glaze over the apple fritters while they are still warm. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side.
Best served warm. Enjoy!
“No matter what their age from the youngest to the oldest” everyone
in the Community of Jesus gathers together for Saturday morning beehive,
a time to busily work on everything that needs doing in the community that week.
Each is assigned a job he or she is capable of doing.
Last Saturday while I was in the convent yard I heard excited shouts and
squeals of fun and laughter coming from the apple orchard. Although we
still have not reached peak apple season we have an abundance of
drops each day and we never waste any of them. That day the nursery school
kids were having a contest to see who could gather the most.
The two sisters responsible for child care had cleverly come up with a way
for them to be useful while at the same time learn a lesson in good stewardship
of God’s gifts to us.
Their mission accomplished, the little wagon full of drops were drawn to
the convent kitchen where they were magically transformed into a
favorite old fashioned dessert that everyone without exception enjoyed
at the coffee hour break…..that is EVERYONE no matter what their age
from the youngest to the oldest!
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a shallow 8” x 8” baking dish.
Place half the bread cubes in the prepared baking dish. Mix the remaining cubes with 2 tablespoons of melted butter and set aside.
Stir together the apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, water, orange juice, orange rind and the remaining 5 tablespoons of butter. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Pour over the bread cubes in the dish and then top with the reserved bread cubes.
Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes covered with foil at 400 degrees Fahrenheit then uncovered 10 minutes or so until golden brown. Serve warm or cold.
This Sunday after church the sisters, along with some invited guests, enjoyed a sumptuous southern breakfast, the perfect holiday treat especially for those who have southern roots.
The menu was extensive……..baked ham, grits, sausage, bacon, buttermilk biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, sticky buns and more than anyone could sample at one sitting. My favorite of all the dishes was a fabulous fruit platter consisting of a combination of roasted fresh and dried fruits and nuts that had been coated with a rich glaze of brown sugar, butter and Calvados.
This winter fruit and nut combination was “Out of this world”…and not only for a southern breakfast, but as a wonderful accompaniment to any number of other meals, especially at this time of year.
Cut fruit to desired size and shape. Spread out on sheet pan and brush with a little oil and cover with foil and roast about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until softened.
Uncover and sprinkle with nuts and generously brush with glaze. Return to oven uncovered at 50 degrees higher and cook until nice and golden.
Sprinkle with pecan and walnut halves and serve.
To make glaze melt butter and brown sugar together until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Add cider, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Calvados and simmer till thick enough to spread.
If dried fruit needs softening soak in warm cider to reconstitute before roasting.
We used firm pears and apples, and pineapple for fresh fruit, along
with dried figs and apricots. Craisins could also be an interesting addition.