Monday, October 31, 2011

How 'bout them apples?

I heard on a radio show that apple picking is for boring people.  Call me the dullest girl ever because I love much that I sometimes want to join in with my kids' festive squealing.  Our family enjoyed a gloriously sunny day at Carter Mountain last weekend that yielded mounds of pink ladies, Granny smiths, and fujis just waiting to be transformed into something fabulous.

Here are an appetizer, main course and dessert that have been the products of our harvest thus far.

Caramelized Onion and Apple Tart (Click here for recipe)

The marriage of caramelized onions and apples is brilliance.  But the real hidden treasure is the layer of creme fraiche hiding underneath.  I didn't think this recipe paid due attention to the onion preparation, so I cooked them a lower temperature...added a touch of butter in addition to the oil...and splashed a bit of balsamic vinegar at the last minute.  While this appetizer may seem a bit fussy, it's actually quite quick to throw together (particularly if you do the onions in advance), requires minimal clean-up since you line the baking pan with parchment paper, and is low maintenance since it hangs out in the oven for 30 minutes to give you a moment to get yourself together before guests arrive.  I'm putting this on my fall favorite list!

Chopped Apple Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Pomegranate Vinaigrette  (Click here for recipe)

Everything in this title called my name, but the pomegranate vinaigrette was something I had to try, like, immediately.  After a quick gander of the recipe asking for pomegranate molasses, my heart fell thinking I'd never find it.  Thanks, Whole Foods, for coming through!  I will most certainly find some fabulous uses for this sweet little bottle.

We added sliced grilled chicken to the salad to beef (er, chicken) it up to a main course.  It was satisfying and delish.  For those wanting to make this: may I beg a favor?  Please don't skip the walnut toasting part.  It completely transforms their flavor into wow, particularly covered with the tangy and sweet dressing. 

Happy aside: my blue cheese obsessed - like, totally obsessed - daughter worked this salad.  Big brother did pretty well with his plate (though sans blue cheese) too!

Mini Apple Pies

This was an impromptu event commencing with, "we need to make something else with these about apple about today?"  I had a large muffin pan that I've been wanting to employ and thought it would be a fun departure to make little individual pies.

Pie crust ingredients are generally on hand (here's my favorite recipe).  But I didn't have the citrus called for in Barefoot Contessa's recipe for the apples and had zero motivation to leave the house for those items.  So, in lieu of lemon zest, fresh lemon juice, orange zest, and fresh orange juice, I used....the kids' morning orange juice.  Hey, where there's a will, there's a way!  All that matters in the end as far as I'm concerned is a sweet and cinnamony flavor, buttery and flaky crust, and a scoop or four of creamy vanilla ice cream. 


Courtney said...

yummy, yum, yum...most def trying the apple/onion tart...never would thought to do that.

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