Apples! A Few Quick Solutions to Apple Season
Apples! Delicious, nutritious, and (due to a food allergy) they make my mouth feel as though I’ve been drinking bleach. Not to worry, though! I can still enjoy apple season just as much as the next North American goth kid, with only a few extra steps involved, because cooking renders the apple proteins harmless (and defenseless against my ravenous nommings, just like a fruit should be).
Whether or not you need to cook your apples to destroy their evil allergy-powers, the following recipes are fast, simple, and delicious ways to cook up those bushels upon bushels of apples that are so plentiful at this time of year.
Whether it’s a topping for pork roast, a side-dish, or a snack in its own right, applesauce is definitely a classic (try having a bowl of apple sauce with a big wedge of aged cheddar cheese on the side — it’s such a good combo!). And it’s so, so easy. Just peel, core, and slice one large or two small apples for each person you want to serve (if you’re feeling lazy, you can skip peeling and just chop the apples up quite small, but you’ll end up with a chunkier sauce that way). Put the apples into a pot along with a bit of water or apple juice (enough to cover the bottom of the pot by about an inch), a pinch of salt, and a sprinkling of cinnamon*. Cover the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. After five minutes, the apples should be nice and soft. Mash them up with a fork or potato masher, and you’ve got delicious apple sauce! You can serve it right away, or make a big batch and keep it in the fridge. If you’ve got a boiling water canner you can even jar it up and save for later, but I find that apple sauce is so easy to make and apples are so readily available, there’s no reason to store it.
Baked apples are a personal favourite of mine, and easily made in the microwave, oven, or toaster oven. They’re kind of like inside-out apple crisp, and they look very pretty when served in a little saucer, covered with whipped cream or drizzled with caramel sauce.
The most complicated part of making a baked apple is cutting out the core. You don’t want to cut all the way through the apple, or you’ll make it impossible for all the gooey goodness to get held inside. You just want to scoop out most of the core, leaving about a half-inch “floor” on the bottom to hold everything in. Think of it kind of like carving a pumpkin — cut a circle around the stem with a paring knife, then use a spoon to scoop downwards and take out the core and seeds. You’ll want the hole to be about an inch wide — enough to make sure you’ve gotten out all of the core and seeds, but not so wide as to be cutting out all of the delicious apple flesh.
Once you’ve made your little apple “bowls”, it’s time to fill them with crumbly goodness. Mix together equal parts brown sugar, uncooked oats (I prefer large-flake oats, because they retain more texture than quick oats, but use whichever you have on hand), and raisins or nuts (or a mix of both). 1/3 cup of each gives you enough to fill four large apples. Add in a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of cinnamon*, then fill your apples. Top each one with a teensy bit of butter or margarine (a half-teaspoon is enough).
If you’re baking these in the oven or toaster oven, you’ll want to add a little bit of water or apple juice to the bottom of the baking pan, just to help keep things from drying out. If you’re doing it in the microwave you don’t need to worry about that, since the microwave doesn’t dry things out the same way.
Bake covered at 350 degrees for a half hour, or in the microwave at medium-high for five minutes (depends on your specific microwave; it may take some testing to get the timing right). Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream, or caramel sauce (or all of the above).
This one’s my dad’s favourite, and was usually the dessert he’d whip up whenever he was in charge of dinner. He and I share the same allergy, so it was one of the few ways he ever got to eat apples, and he became an expert at making this particular dish.
Peel and slice four large apples. Lay the slices in an 8×8 baking dish (use a bit of butter to grease up the dish if you’re not using non-stick).
In a bowl, combine 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour (I like to use whole wheat), 1/2 cup oats (like with the baked apples, I prefer large flake, but quick oats will do), a pinch of salt, and a sprinkling of cinnamon*. Spread this over the top of the apples. Cut up 1/2 cup of cold butter into small chunks and spread these evenly over the top of the crumbly layer.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until the top begins to turn golden brown. Serve immediately with whipped cream, ice cream, or caramel sauce.
*Other spices you could use are allspice, cloves, nutmeg, or even pumpkin pie spice, but cinnamon is my usual standby here. Feel free to get crazy and add whatever the heck you like, though — you could probably add ginger and chili powder and have it come out pretty delicious.