The Richmond Register

September 19, 2012

Autumn is apple time!

By Frank Kourt
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — As the crisp fall weather settles in, and the leaves turn from summer green to a lustrous riot of scarlet and gold, it’s time to think of pumpkins, hearty stews and, of course, apples!

For me, there’s nothing better than biting into a crisp, juicy apple on a brisk fall day, or sitting by the fire with a mug of hot spiced apple cider!

Right now, you’ll find a wide variety of apples available a most supermarkets. I prefer Granny Smiths for cooking because they’re both tart and firm.

Below are three recipes that are among my favorites, along with a couple I gleaned from the U.S. Apple Association’s web page, so try them out and enjoy apple season while it lasts!

Apple-cranberry stuffed pork chops with sautéed apples*

2 medium-sized tart apples

1 cup finely chopped fresh spinach or 1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped

4 T apple juice, divided

4 boneless pork loin chops, 1-inch thick (about 5 ounces each)

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

2 T olive oil

2 T butter

Peel and chop one apple; leaving peel on second apple, thinly slice.

To prepare stuffing: In small bowl, mix chopped apple, spinach, cranberries and 1 T of the apple juice; toss to combine.

With very sharp knife, cut crosswise into each chop to form a pocket, taking care not to cut through. Stuff each chop with about 1/4 cup of the stuffing. Season chops with salt and pepper. In very large skillet, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add pork chops; cook until well browned, about 7 minutes per side.

Remove to platter; cover to keep warm. In skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add sliced apples and remaining 3 T apple juice; cook until apples begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Serve with chops.

Peach-baked apples*

6 medium baking apples

1/4 cup peach preserves

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 cup apple cider or apple juice

3/4 cup crumbled chewy oatmeal cookies

Cut apples in half and core. Plane in 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan, cut side up. Combine preserves, cinnamon and apple juice or cider. Drizzle over cut sides of apples. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in 350° F oven about 35 minutes or until apples are just tender. Sprinkle crumbled cookies over cut surface of apples and drizzle with preserve mixture in bottom of pan. Bake 5 minutes longer, uncovered. Serve warm or cold. Can be topped with whipped topping or frozen vanilla yogurt, if desired.

Old-fashioned apple pie       

Pastry for a 10 inch pie (see below)

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

7 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced

3 T butter

1 tsp. lemon juice

Line a 10 inch pie pan with half the pastry. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, flour, salt and lemon juice. Stir in the apples and coat well.

Turn the apple mixture into the pie shell and dot with the butter. Cover with the top crust, trim and flute the sides by pinching the two crusts together. Make decorative slits in the top crust. Bake in a 425 degree, until the crust is a golden brown, about 45 minutes.

Crust for a 10 inch, double crust pie

1 cup shortening

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. salt

8 T cold water

Cut the shortening into the flour and salt until the mixture forms particles the size of peas. Gradually add the cold water, tossing with a fork until it is all moistened. Divide the pastry in half and roll each half gently into a ball. Flatten each ball a bit with your hand on a lightly floured pastry board, then roll it with a lightly floured rolling pin until it is about two or three inches wider that the pie plate. Carefully fold into quarters, then unfold it in the pie plate, carefully pressing it down until the bottom and sides of the pie plate are covered.

Manhattan Norwegian Apple Pie

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/2  cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

3 cups peeled, diced Granny Smith apples

Mix the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and egg. Add baking powder, salt and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in nuts, raisins and apples. Pour into a well-buttered 9 inch pie pan. Bake for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

2 quarts fresh apple cider

2 tsp. whole cloves

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

Combine ingredients in a sauce pan on the stove. Heat to almost boiling, stirring well. Strain to remove the cloves and serve in mugs with a whole cinnamon stick as a garnish.

*Recipes courtesy U.S. Apple Association