Apple season isn't only about dessert. Eat apples—on top of blistered flatbread—for dinner, too.
Every fall I look forward to the re-opening of the local orchards and country shops selling seasonal treats. I recently made a run to my favorite spot, Riverview Orchards, and chatted with the owner, Isabel Prescott, who reminded me how fleeting this season is: Only one month remains for apple picking! Over hot cider and apple cider doughnuts, Isabel shared some of her best apple know-how:
Best apple for a pie: Northern Spy, which Isabel calls "the Cadillac of pie apples."
Best apple for sauce: A mix. Using a combination of four or five different apples such as Cortlands, Empires, Golden Delicious, Macoun, and McIntosh will add immensely to the flavor of the sauce.
Best apple for a salad: Cortland, because they stay white for a long time—tossing the apples in lemon, often necessary with other apple varieties, can change their flavor.
Apple picking tips: 1)Twist or snap up—don’t pull towards you or they’ll all come crashing down; 2) the larger apples tend to be closer to the trunk, though size doesn’t mean much; 3) generally, the richer the color, the sweeter the apple.
The best way to store apples: 33º F—as cold as possible without freezing. Store your apples in the fridge in plastic perforated bags. They’ll keep for months.
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Most of the apples in my kitchen find their way into pies, butters, and sauces. But recently, while flipping through Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi, I happened upon a striking image: a blistered flatbread topped with layers of glistening, whisper-thin apple slices. Extreme wanderlust is a sensation I’ve come to expect when perusing any of Greenspan's books, but never have I felt more moved to pack my bags.
I turned the page and read the inspiration behind the recipe, the tarte flambée at Flamme & Co, a restaurant in Alsace that bakes the regional specialty in ferociously hot wood-burning ovens. Classically, tarte flambée is made with fresh cheeses, cured meat, and raw onions, but Flamme & Co serves both sweet and savory versions.
Greenspan’s passage sent me on an Alsatian pizza making bender. I soon discovered that the union of tangy crème fraîche, sweet onion, and smoky bacon needs nothing more.
But the combination lends itself to countless variations: mustard greens, crisped and charred, provide spicy contrast to the creamy crème fraîche; delicata squash slices, briefly blanched, melt into the dough, their sweetness offsetting the bacon’s saltiness; apples, sliced on a mandoline, soften in a screaming hot oven and emerge with edges ruffled like campanelle pasta.
I'll still make pies and cakes this apple season, but this savory use has proven to be a welcomed addition to the fall dinner rotation. And, more importantly, it has subdued my longing to move to eastern France—for now, that is.
1 to 2 teaspoons grapeseed, canola, or olive oil 8 ounces pizza dough (I use the Lahey no-knead dough) 1/4 cup crème fraîche 1 slice bacon, uncooked, finely chopped 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme 1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion 1/4 cup grated Gruyère or Comté 1 apple, thinly sliced on a mandoline 2 teaspoons sugar