Welcome to "Apple Mania 2009," my new seasonal food focus. Similar to the format of last summer's ice-cream festival, this fall I will be highlighting delicious recipes made with my favorite seasonal fruit, apples. Look for new recipes all this season showcasing delicious ways to incorporate apples into your everyday cooking and baking!
When the seasons change so does my cooking style. Though I love the sunshine and warmth of summer, fall is truly my favorite season. Maybe it is because I was born in September (my birthday is - hint hint - a week from today), but there is something about the crisp air, cooler breezes and autumnal colors that make me feel alive and inspired. Just this weekend I tucked away my light summer salad recipes to hibernate for the winter. In their place I pulled out ones for hearty cold weather fare like stews, lasagnas and dishes loaded with root vegetables and fall fruits.
New York State is one of the top five leading producer of apples in the country and, since I grew up right smack in the middle of the state, it is no surprise that I love to incorporate apples into just about everything I make. For the next few months I'll be Naptime Chef-ing many of my favorite apple foods from sweet cookies, pies, breads and muffins, to savory pork with homemade applesauce, tart salads, and these, my favorite scalloped apples. When I came across this recipe a few years ago I was immediately drawn to the way it echoed a favorite childhood snack, apples slices with cheese. In this dish the apples are baked until soft, with only a pinch of sugar and spice for flavor, and topped with a light layer of sharp cheddar cheese. It is a snap to prepare and is a wonderful addition to any fall lunch or dinner.
Preparing this meal it not time consuming so I am always able to complete it while my daughter naps and re-heat it later in the evening. Or, sometimes, I make it a half hour prior to dinner and let it bake while I get everything else on the table. Everyone I've ever served this to loves the savory sweet contrast between the baked apples and sharp cheese. It is slightly reminiscent of another favorite, apple pie with cheddar cheese crust, only without the heavy butter pastry. Last week I served this with roasted sausage from the farmers market and a slice of rustic bread. I was pleased, but not surprised, to discover that my daughter loved it, and I was more than happy to serve it to her since it contains high-quality fresh ingredients with nothing extra. Watching her enjoy the food made me excited that fall cooking season as arrived, I can't wait to see what inspires me next.
adapted from A Recipe Repertoire
4 large tart apples, cored and sliced
1 t. cinnamon
1 1/2 T. flour
3 T. sugar
1/4 c. water
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Core and slice apples and place them in a large bowl. Sprinkle cinnamon, flour and sugar over the apples and toss them with your hands until apples are evenly coated.
3. Arrange apples in a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish so that they are slightly overlapping. Mix water and lemon juice together in a bowl and pour over the apples (this prevents the apples from browning). Top apples with dots of butter.
4. Cover casserole dish with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
5. After the time is up remove the foil and sprinkle cheese evenly over the apples. Recover the dish and return it to the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
Naptime Recipe Props: It is essential to have a simple savory apple dish on hand for fall cooking, and there is nothing better than apples with cheese. Feel free to experiment with any cheese or spice you like - the flavor possibilities are almost endless! This works well served alongside pork loin, tenderloin or roast chicken. I've even served it as a Thanksgiving side dish.
Naptime Stopwatch: Coring and slicing four apples takes about 5 minutes and then rest of the time is just baking. It took me about 35 minutes (including baking time) to make this dish - that can't be beat!
Naptime Reviews: My daughter has joined my apple-loving ranks and happily gobbled this up. It is also proved sophisticated enough for her father, who devoured it as well. It is always nice to have dishes that everyone loves, especially when they are healthy and easy to make.