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An Apple a Dish Can Give Your Holiday Table New Appeal

September 21, 2011 By:
Linda Morel
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WHAT'S COOKING?

What would Rosh Hashanah be without dipping sliced apples into honey? This cherished tradition symbolizes the hope for sweetness in the New Year.

To underscore this wish, I always bake an apple pie, an apple torte or an apple cake. But I don't limit apples to desserts. I sprinkle them into as many appetizers and side dishes as possible.

I started apple-ing savory foods by tossing this crunchy fruit with seasonal produce, something inspired from the Waldorf salads of decades ago. I then gravitated to simmering apples into soup.

It only seemed natural to make stuffing for roasted chickens with challah and apples and to puree apples with sweet potatoes. Because apple martinis are so popular, I added this smart drink to my repertoire.

While it sounds redundant to infuse so many dishes with apples, I don't serve all of them at the same meal. With its two-day span, the Jewish New Year provides plenty of opportunities for entertaining.

The essence of autumn, apples add a delicious glow to every flavor they meet. Because there is no place at the Jewish New Year for sour or bitter foods, a sprinkle of apples in all sorts of recipes just may sweeten our days until next Rosh Hashanah.

Apple Martinis

(Pareve)

1 red apple, such as Cortland 
1 cup vodka 
1 cup apple schnapps 
1 cup apple juice 
1 cup ice cubes

Core the apple but keep the skin on. Near the center of the apple, cut six (1/8-inch-thick) slices. Discard the rest of the apple.

Place the remaining ingredients in a blender and frappe until the ice is crushed and the contents appear foamy. Pour evenly into 6 martini glasses and float an apple slice on top of each. Serve immediately.

Serves 6.

Apple and Acorn Squash Soup

(Pareve, Meat or Dairy)

nonstick vegetable spray 
4-5 lbs. acorn squash (about 2 large or 4 small-sized) 
kosher salt to taste 
2 red apples (Pink Lady, Jonagold or McIntosh) 
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth 
1 Tbsp. ground cumin 
1 Tbsp. curry powder 
4 Tbsps. sour cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil with nonstick vegetable spray.

Cut each squash in half. Using a spoon, scrape out and discard seeds and fibers. Sprinkle the cavities lightly with salt.

Place squash in the prepared pan and bake for 11/2 hours, or until the flesh is soft, almost mushy, when tested with a fork. Cool to room temperature.

Cut off the crusty edges of the squash and discard. With a spoon, scoop out the flesh of squash and place in a large pot. Discard the skins.

Peel, core and dice apples and add them to the pot, along with the remaining ingredients (except the sour cream). Cover the pot, simmer for 30 minutes, or until the apples soften. Cool to room temperature.

In batches, move the soup to a blender and puree. (For a creamy soup, add the sour cream in batches to the blender.) When ready to serve, reheat soup on a low flame, stirring often. However, this soup is also delicious when served cold.

Serves 6.

Swiss Chard and Apple Salad

(Pareve)

1/2 bunch of Swiss chard 
1 red apple (use Pink Lady, Jonagold, Fuji, Macoun, Cortland or Gala) 
2 carrots 
1 cup seedless red grapes, cut in half 
2/3 cup pecans, toasted

Rinse the Swiss chard under cold water. Cut off the long stems and discard. Tear leaves into bite-sized pieces, discarding their center spines. Dry in a salad spinner.

Peel and core the apple. Slice into matchstick pieces. Peel carrots and rinse under cold water. Scrape carrots into thin strips.

Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss with apple cider vinegar (recipe below).

Serves 4 to 6.

Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

(Pareve)

1/4 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar 
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard 
1/8 tsp. garlic powder 
1 tsp. dried basil leaves, crushed 
1/4 tsp. honey 
kosher salt to taste 
freshly ground pepper to taste

Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined.

Makes 1/2 cup of dressing, enough for the Swiss chard and apple salad above.

Apple and Challah Stuffing

(Meat)

2 red apples (Pink Lady, Jonagold, Granny Smith, Cortland or Gala) 
3 Tbsps. corn oil 
4 stalks of celery, peeled and diced 
1 onion, peeled and diced 
1 loaf of challah, cubed, including the crust 
kosher salt to taste 
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg 
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/8 tsp. poultry seasoning 
2 cups warm chicken stock or broth (homemade, from a can, or from bouillon cubes) 
nonstick spray, optional

Peel, core and dice apples.

On a medium flame, warm corn oil in a large pot. Saute the celery and onion, stirring until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the diced apples and stir. Remove from heat.

Add the challah, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and poultry seasoning to the apple mixture. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, stirring constantly until there's a sticky mixture. You may not need all of the chicken stock. You don't want a watery stuffing.

Stuffing may be prepared in one of two ways.

Method 1: Spray a deep casserole with no-stick spray. Spoon the stuffing inside the casserole and pat down. Bake at 350° until stuffing bubbles, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Method 2: When fully cooled to room temperature, spoon stuffing into a chicken's cavity. Push the stuffing inside so it's tightly packed. Roast the chicken as usual, but it will take longer to be cooked through with stuffing inside. If not all the stuffing fits inside the chicken, then place the remainder in a casserole, following the instructions in Method 1.

Recipe will stuff a 5- to 8-lb. chicken.

Serves 6 to 8 as a side dish.

Apple and Sweet Potato Puree

(Dairy or Pareve)

2 lbs. sweet potatoes (2-4) 
1 quart orange juice 
4 red apples (Pink Lady, Jonagold or Honeycrisp) 
nonstick vegetable spray 
4 Tbsps. sweet butter or margarine 
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom 
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg 
1/4 tsp. ground cloves

Peel sweet potatoes, rinse under cold water, and cut into 11/2-inch chunks. Place in a medium-large pot. Pour orange juice into the pot, cover it and bring contents to a boil.

Meanwhile, slice apples into 10 wedges. Peel off skin and core each wedge. Coat the 11/2-quart soufflé pan with nonstick spray.

When sweet potatoes are nearly softened when pierced with a fork, after about 20 to 25 minutes, add the apples to the pot. Stir the contents. Cover the pot and continue boiling until contents are thoroughly softened, about 5 to 8 minutes more.

Using a slotted spoon, move sweet potatoes and apples in batches to a colander. Bring orange juice to room temperature and discard.

Place half of the sweet potato-apple mixture in a food processor or blender. Add 2 tabelspoons of butter or margarine, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon cloves. Cover and beat ingredients until pureed.

Move to prepared soufflé pan. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Recipe can be made to this point up to 3 days ahead, if covered and refrigerated.

Preheat oven to 350°. Place the casserole in the oven and heat until bubbling at the edges, about 5 to 10 minutes. (If heating casserole from the refrigerator, this may take 20 minutes, or longer.)

Linda Morel is a writer based in New York City. Email her at: [email protected].

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