COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN! APPLE CRISP

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Autumn and apple crisp – they go hand-in-hand. And for me, it wouldn’t be Halloween unless my friend (and neighbor), Richie, anxiously awaited his treat – his own personal tray of apple crisp.

September is the optimal time to go apple picking on Long Island. After harvesting thirsty pounds of apples, I make enough apple crisp and pies for both Halloween and Thanksgiving.

Depending on how you would like to serve this dessert, you can either make it by the tray or in individual crocks. I’ve collected enough Kalypso Greek Yogurt clay crocks to reuse for this and many other purposes.

Since I have a daughter and a niece who are allergic to nuts, I’ve decided to make two large trays of the apple crisp for the holidays and several individual potions in the crocks minus the nuts. This way there will be no mistaking which ones are nut-free. Either way, the recipe is the same—only the nuts would be omitted.

 

Apple Crisp

Preheat oven to 350°

 Filling

1/3 Cup packed brown sugar

2 ½ tablespoons flour

1 Teaspoon cinnamon

8 Cups of peeled, cored and coarsely sliced granny smith apples

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ Teaspoon vanilla

Topping

1½ Cups flour

1 ½ Cups old-fashioned rolled oats

¾ Cup packed brown sugar

¾ Cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 Teaspoon cinnamon

2 Sticks unsalted butter, melted

Apples turn brown easily. For this reason I prep the topping first and set it aside. Add all the topping ingredients together and mix well.

For the filling – Juice and zest a lemon and add it to a large bowl. In another bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Peel the apples and toss into the bowl with the lemon juice. Stir every so often, coating the apples in the lemon juice to prevent browning. After the apples are peeled, add the melted butter, the brown sugar mixture and the vanilla, tossing well to coat.

In a greased baking dish, spread the filling evenly. Press the topping evenly over the filling. Bake for 30-35 minutes. (25 minutes for the individual crocks)

If you are planning to freeze, I suggest reducing the cooking time by 10 to 15 minutes. Let the apple crisp completely cool before storing in the freezer.

Serving suggestion- Spoon vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt over the warm apple crisp.

 

 

 

Countdown to Thanksgiving! Spiced Apple Cider

what's left of the spiced apple cider. It went fast!

What’s left of the spiced apple cider. It went fast!

Four more days and so much to do! Yesterday, I made two appetizers that can be made ahead, frozen and will taste just as good as if they were made that very day. It’s very helpful when budgeting time to be able to make as much as possible ahead and have everything else prepped and ready to go. The baked clams and tyropitas are a crowd pleaser, those, along with my platter of Greek meze and Italian antipasto will be a typical start to our Thanksgiving dinner.

Often, I find that the beverage takes a backseat to the food, becoming an afterthought. We throw a few liters of soda on the counter, along with a couple bottles of wine and call it a day. I like to fill beverage jars with fruited water, Ice tea and for this holiday—spiced apple cider. I played around a bit to come up with my own version of this traditional autumn beverage.

Served as is, it is delicious for children as well as adults, but you can turn this cider into a decadent alcoholic libation. Last year, my daughter, Eleni created her version of a Caramel Apple Martini. Simply add a shot (or two) of Buttershots and a shot of pumpkin spice crème liquor to the spiced cider.

Spiced Apple Cider

1 gallon apple cider

1 cup orange juice

1-cup sugar

3 cinnamon sticks

1 tablespoon of whole cloves

1/2 of a lemon sliced in rounds

4 oz package of apple chips

Put orange juice, sugar, cinnamon sticks and cloves in a pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for5-7 minutes. Add this mixture to the apple cider. Stir and add apple chips and lemon slices. Serve from a punch bowl or a glass jar dispenser.

Ms. Murray-Wilke Apple Bread

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Still inundated with apples, I baked another family favorite that I discovered could be frozen and used for Thanksgiving. This apple “bread” is really not bread at all. It has no yeast—it’s more of a cake, but one I serve with dinner. I like to fill a breadbasket with squares of cornbread and apple bread to pass around the table, accompanied with maple syrup butter.

So where did this bread get it’s name? From my daughters’ AP literature teacher. Although an educator for over 30 years, Ms. Murray-Wilke was dedicated and enthusiastic until the day she retired. A passionate baker, she would bring cookies and cakes for her classes to enjoy while they discussed anything from Pride and Prejudice to Shakespeare or even Harry Potter. Her students adored her and many still keep in touch with her. She was generous enough to share her recipe, and when Alexa came home with a copy of it she begged me to make it, and the rest is, as they say—history! The ingredients remain the same, though I changed the method just a bit from the original copy.

*Just an idea- If you are looking to give a small gift to a friend or neighbor, or to bring a hostess gift to a party; this apple bread would make a wonderful gift. Simply wrap in cellophane and tie with a pretty bow.

Ms. Murray-Wilke Apple Bread

Makes one loaf

Pre-heat oven at 325 degrees F

Bread

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 Teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

½ Teaspoon salt

2 Tablespoons buttermilk or sour cream

1 Teaspoon baking soda

2 cups peeled, diced granny smith apples

Topping

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons flour

1 Teaspoons cinnamon

2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

*Hint- I like a lot of topping. I double the amount of topping on each bread. The choice is yours!

Method

Make the topping first and set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Add flour, cinnamon and nuts. Mixture should resemble coarse crumbs.

For the batter- cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, blend well.

In a separate bowl combine flour and salt. Stir flour mixture into egg and butter mixture. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk: add to batter, mixing well. Peel and dice the apples now that the batter is done. I find that there is less of a chance of the apples turning brown this way. Stir in apples. Spoon batter into a well-greased and floured 9×5- inch loaf pan. Sprinkle with topping. Bake for 1 hour. Cool slightly before removing from pan. Cool on wire rack.

Easy and Delicious Apple Crisp

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Columbus Day seems to be the day my family has traditionally chosen to go pumpkin picking. Some years the weather was cold—well by Effie standards anyway and other years it’s been warm. This year it was close to 80 degrees and I’m not complaining. For several years we tried to go pumpkin and apple picking in the same day. After discovering that the only apples left by October were the ones that either fell off the trees or that were discarded by the people who picked them in September, we knew we had to change our plan. So in Mid-September we went out East with our little niece and nephew and picked the most beautiful apples. 36 pounds later, I had to create something—a lot of something. Needless to say, the next few blogs will be dedicated to apples. On Halloween and Thanksgiving I make a tray of apple crisp. Last year I discovered I can freeze it and heat it after defrosting and the result is the same. This makes me sooo happy! It takes one project off me in the days leading to Thanksgiving. I made three trays of Apple crisp. The extra is for my neighbor, Richie, who waits every year for “apple crisp” season. But then, I got a brilliant idea! I’ve been collecting these little clay pots that Kalypso Greek yogurt is packaged in. I thought it would make a nice presentation to plate my apple crisp in individual servings for my Thanksgiving table. I did make other apple recipes with the 36 pounds of apples. You will have to wait and see what they are. In the meantime enjoy this easy-to-make apple crisp.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Filling

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 ½ tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

8 cups of peeled, cored and coarsely sliced granny smith apples

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

½ teaspoon vanilla

Topping

1½ cups flour

1 ½ cups old-fashioned rolled oats

¾ cup packed brown sugar

¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

When I am doing anything with apples I am conscious of them turning brown. For this reason I prep as much as possible ahead of time and leave the peeling of the apples for last. Make the topping first and set it aside. Simply mix all the topping ingredients together and mix well.

For the filling – In a large bowl, stir together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Melt the butter, juice and zest the lemon. As I peel a few apples I toss with the lemon juice. I keep adding apples and lemon juice as I keep peeling to coat well. The lemon juice keeps the apples from turning brown. After the apples are peeled, add the melted butter, the brown sugar mixture and the vanilla, tossing well to coat.

In a greased baking dish, spread the filling evenly. Bake for 25 minutes. (15 minutes for the individual crocks)

Press the topping evenly over the filling and bake for another 25 minutes. (10-15 minutes for individuals)

If you are planning to freeze, I suggest reducing the cooking time by 10 to 15 minutes. Let the apple crisp completely cool before storing in the freezer.

Serving suggestion- Spoon vanilla ice cream or Greek yogurt over the warm apple crisp.

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