What to Do With All Those Apples:
We are blessed here in Columbia County to have so many apple orchards near us so that we can spend part of a beautiful fall day apple-picking. Our family has made an annual ritual of going to the apple orchard for as long as I can remember. Even now, our teenagers may grumble all the way there and back, but they do enjoy the search for that perfect apple that is waiting just for them to pick (and eat on the spot). It is unavoidable that we will come home with way too many apples to eat out of hand. (See: 2004 Pick an Apple, Pick a Pumpkin for the latest advice on the local crop.)
Luckily there are dozens and dozens of wonderful apple recipes to choose from.
The following one, which uses a lot of apples, is actually a version of a Russian apple charlotte that I learned to make in my high school cooking class. The recipe uses the very common Macintosh apple because it cooks down quite quickly. It is a simple yet elegant dessert, but it must be served warm. If you decide to make it for company, put it in the oven about
an hour and a half before you serve it.
2 sticks unsalted butter
16 slices of homemade-type white bread (i.e. Arnold’s), crusts removed
15 Macintosh-type apples, peeled and thinly sliced
½ cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 ½ cups apricot jam
2 Tbs. water
¼ cup apple jack or calvados, optional
Butter a 1 ½ quart round baking dish (such as a soufflé dish). Remove 4 Tbs. of the butter and melt the remaining butter in a pyrex cup in the microwave.
Cut three of the slices of bread in half diagonally and cut 7 slices in half lengthwise.
Dip the triangles into the melted butter and place them on the bottom of the dish.
Dip the halves into the butter and overlap them around the sides of the dish.
Melt the remaining butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the apples water and cinnamon. Cook for about 30 minutes or until the apples are very soft and slightly browned.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pour the apple mixture into the dish. Cut the remaining bread slices in half and dip them in the butter (it may need to be remelted) and cover the top of the apples completely. Bake for one hour or until golden brown. Place a cookie sheet under the casserole to catch any drips. Cool for half an hour and then invert onto a serving platter.
While the charlotte is cooling, melt the jam with the water in a saucepan over moderate heat for about ten minutes. Turn off the heat and add the apple jack or calvados.
Serve the charlotte warm with the sauce poured onto each serving.
LAMB & ZUCCHINI DOLMA
12 small zucchini
¾ lb. ground lamb
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup white rice
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbs. pine nuts
1 Tbs. currants
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbs. fresh mint, finely chopped or 1 tsp. dried mint, crumbled
1 tsp. fresh dill
¼ tsp. hot pepper sauce
¼ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup olive oil
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, undrained
½ tsp. black pepper
Cut the ends off the zucchini and slice them in half length-wise. Core the centers with
the large end of a melon scooper and discard the seeds.
In a large bowl, combine the lamb with half of the onions, the rice, pine nuts, currants, parsley, mint, dill, hot sauce, cinnamon, and salt. Stuff the mixture evenly into the zucchini halves. Place in an oven-proof 9x 12 inch deep-sided pan.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the rest of the onions, and sauté about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with the juice. Break up the pieces and cook for about 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the zucchini and season with the pepper. Cover with aluminum and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.