Monday, November 06, 2006

a/s/c: a neglected gadget a la WCC #10

In one of the hard-to-reach upper cabinets of my kitchen sits my apple peeler/slicer/corer. Lonely most months of the year, during apple season it becomes a veritable whirling dervish of activity. It's a wonderfully efficient little machine. You won't mind making a mile-high apple pie if you use one of these to prepare your apples. You can use it to core and slice and peel, or you can pull back the peeling arm to just core and slice. If I could choose to just peel and not slice, it would be perfect, but as it is, it makes short work of slicing up mounds of apples.

I was inspired earlier this fall to try making apple chips, the fruit cousin to potato chips, by a post written by Stacey on Just Braise. I made just a few apples as an experiment, trying them just plain, with salt, and with cinnamon sugar, as Stacey suggest. I'm a salt-aholic, so I expected to love the salty ones. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that I actually preferred the plain ones over the ornamented ones. In fact, I scarfed down so many apple chips that I realized these things are a little dangerous: with all the water removed, they seem rather insubstantial. In one sitting, you could easily eat the equivalent of three or four apples' worth!

Feeling further inspired, I went to our local apple orchard and purchased a half bushel of apples (them's a lot of apples, folks!) for $15 and just went to town making loads of apple chips. They're easy. They're delicious. And with my trusty apple p/s/c, every slice was precisely the same size as the one before it, so they all dried up perfectly at the same time. It's nice to have such a healthy snack in the house. Now I just have to figure out how to eat only a reasonable amount at a sitting.

I continued on my quest for apple recipes, to use up all those apples. I was captured by the very next post of Stacey's (I **am** going to give you a recipe that didn't come from her, I promise!) for apple spice cake. This is no ordinary apple spice cake, people. Oh, my word. I tasted it warm, and it was fabulous. But most cakes are wonderful when warm, so an hour later I tried it again when it had cooled off. Still fabulous. When the Huz came home for dinner, we had a nice bit of apple cake for dessert, with a bit of whipped cream, and he readily agreed to take the rest to work for his lunches and to share. But he failed me. He cut it in half and left some here. So I tasted it again the next day, to see how it had held up over time. Yep, still good. And it was still good that night. And the next morning I had to insist that it be taken out of my house, because by then I knew I was no match for its siren call.

I also played around with some baked apple recipes, but either my apples aren't the right kind or I haven't found the right recipe yet. Does anyone have a baked apple recipe that you adore? I'd love to try it!

Later that week, at a weekend cooking gig, I used my trusty apple p/s/c to make the apple spice cake as a coffee cake for 20, adding even more apple chunks than the recipe calls for and sprinkling powdered sugar over the top. Needless to say, it was a hit. I also made my "easiest apple tart" for a side dish for breakfast the following day. (For whatever it's worth, the whole menu was: individual shirred eggs with cream and cheese, warm ham ribbons with shallots, english muffins, easiest apple tart, yogurt, and fruit salad.)

The apple tart is indeed easy, especially since I use a refrigerated pie crust to save time. (Not being a morning person, I've gotten pretty good at figuring out shortcuts so I can get up at the last possible minute!) You just slice the apples, toss them with a mixture of sugar, flour, ground cloves, and cinnamon, and then arrange them in concentric circles over the pie crust. When it comes out of the oven 45 minutes later, you brush melted apple jelly over the top, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and then carry it to the table.

It looks like a fancy french tart, without all the fuss, and because it's just a pie crust with some cooked apples on top of it, it's not unduly rich for breakfast. If there's any left over, I put the slices on individual plates with a salad fork, and put them on the buffet table with whatever scone or coffee cake or muffins have been cooked for morning snack. Next thing I know, the empty plates are next to the sink ready to be washed.

The other recipe that I made with apples that weekend was my Blushing Apple Cream Pie, but that story will have to wait for another post. Gotta hurry up and get this over to Breadchick, who has kindly offered to allow me to enter it in the Weekend Cookbook Challenge even though I'm past the deadline. (See all the other entries, too, at The Sour Dough, where Breadchick has ably hosted the WCC this month.) So come back in a few days and I'll share that fabulous recipe, too!

P.S. If you're considering buying your very own apple p/s/c, it pays to buy a good one. I got my first one as a gift, and it wasn't worth the time I spent on it trying to get it to work. If the apple wasn't perfectly round and perfectly crisp, it would just shred the peel or not peel at all. It was purchased from LL Bean. I saw this one when a friend brought it to my weekend cooking gigs. It's from Pampered Chef, and it's a keeper!


stacey said...

Yeah! Delicious! I've been eyeing one of those machines too, but I don't think my NYC kitchen would be happy with another rarely used gadget (like the waffle iron my mother just got me!) doH!

But yeah apples and a half bushel at that!

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

A bushel for only $15! Wow. I've often thought about getting one of those apple peeling gizmo's. I'd probably make apple pie more often if I had one. Just the thought of all that peeling and slicing by hand, ugh.

Maybe I'll add one of those to my Christmas wishlist.