JESSICA KARLEY: Cooking with apples — a fall stapleThe temperatures have started to drop and there is no doubt that fall is here. Fall is my favorite season because it’s the time of year we welcome bounties of a fruitful harvest, colorful leaves, crisp air and comfort foods.
By: Jessica Karley, Grand Forks Herald
The temperatures have started to drop and there is no doubt that fall is here.
Fall is my favorite season because it’s the time of year we welcome bounties of a fruitful harvest, colorful leaves, crisp air and comfort foods. We simply enjoy everything that makes our souls feel warm and cozy. One of those things for me is the smell of oven-roasted apples and cinnamon.
Apples are bountiful this time of year and range in flavors and textures. They can be anywhere from sweet to tart or tender to crisp. There are so many varieties to choose from, and I haven’t come across one I don’t enjoy! My absolute favorite is the Honeycrisp apple, and it just so happens that it was developed at the University of Minnesota.
It’s double the price of most other apples, but it’s worth every penny. It is the perfect combination of sweet and juicy with a distinctive “snap” that distinguishes it from the rest. Apple connoisseurs even claim that it might be the perfect apple for eating.
One of my favorite apple recipes that reminds me of fall is apple butter. It has all of the deliciousness of spiced baked apples cooked into a very condensed and flavorful fruit spread. It does take a long time to cook, but thankfully, it only takes a few minutes to peel and dice the apples. After that, your slow cooker does most of the work.
The waiting can seem to take forever, but another added bonus of this recipe is that your entire home will be filled with aroma of apples, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. So much better than any of those expensive candles and what a great way to welcome everyone home!
One thing to keep in mind with this recipe is that the amount of sugar you use may need to be adjusted according to the sweetness of the apples. I used a mixture of pink lady and honeycrisp apples, so I could get away with using a little less sugar than if I used a more tart apple, such as a granny smith.
If the apple butter doesn’t get you in the mood for fall, this next dish is a sure thing.
The warm aroma of the Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Apple, Onion & Carrot roasting in the oven is sure to have everyone’s mouths watering. To me, this dish smells like everything a chilly Sunday afternoon should.
I like to make this dish for family gatherings because it’s an easy way to feed a crowd and still spend time with your loved ones. Instead of using a metal roast rack to cook the pork, I use the vegetables as a “rack” and then serve them as a side dish. This will save you a step in the meal preparation.
In this particular recipe, the pork roast rests on a bed of yellow onion wedges, sliced peel-on apples, baby carrots and whole garlic cloves. By leaving the skin on the apples, you will save time in the kitchen and this method helps keep the apples together. Unlike the apple butter recipe, you want these apples to stay intact and not turn into applesauce.
This recipe is also kid-tested and comes with rave reviews. I just served it at my niece’s 3rd birthday party, and the kid table was full of smiles!
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the saying about an apple a day keeping the doctor away, so hopefully, you’ll enjoy these tasty ways of getting yours!
Slow Cooker Apple Butter
4 to 6 medium-sized apples, peeled, cored and large diced, about 6 cups total
½ cup ginger ale
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
Combine all ingredients in the slow cooker and stir together. Cook for 8 to 10 hours on low heat. Stir occasionally, but no more than every 2 to 3 hours. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, blend apple mixture until smooth. Let cool and serve on toast, buns, popovers or even ice cream! Enjoy!
Honey Mustard Pork Loin with Oven Roasted Apple, Onion, & Carrot
1/3 cup whole-grain mustard
¼ cup honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 – 16-ounce pork tenderloin
2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges each (I used honeycrisp)
1 medium yellow onion, cut into wedges
16 ounces baby carrots
5 cloves garlic, whole, peeled
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
¼ cup whole grain mustard
1 tablespoon honey
Place marinade ingredients and meat in a zip-lock bag. Seal bag and shake until evenly coated. Let marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In shallow roasting pan, lay apples, onions, carrots and garlic. Pour olive oil over top and add salt, pepper, cinnamon and black pepper. Gently toss with fingers until well-coated. Remove tenderloin from marinade and lay over top of vegetables. Discard plastic bag and remaining marinade. Spread mustard and honey over top half of roast. Bake for 45 minutes or until internal thermometer on pork reaches 145. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let roast rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.
Karley can be reached at email@example.com. Read her food blog at EverydayGourmet.AreaVoices.com.