November 02, 2012
Welcome back to the kitchen. As autumn rolls along I find myself spending many a pleasant evening curled
up by the fire with a good book and a strong cup of tea. Apparently I really am turning into my father. But hey,
he’s the one who most taught me to cook and appreciate food, so I guess that genetic predetermination can be
a good thing!
In any case, I’m not much of a fan
of sweets. If given the choice between dessert or a second helping of dinner, I’ll take dinner every time.
And in restaurants the dessert course if often marked up enormously.
But here at home, in front of the fire, I will admit I’ve found a bit of a latent sweet tooth.
Maybe it’s the darker days and my body trying to bulk up for winter, but my cup of tea just isn’t the
same without something to go with it.
One of my very
favorite fall crops is still very much in season: apples. And
claim to fame can be turned into any number of delicious, and in some cases relatively healthy treats. But a hands
down favorite, especially when balancing deliciousness with ease of cooking, has to be good old apple crisp.
I know, I know, you’ve had this a million times, and you
may even think it’s a bit plane Jane. But bake up a big, buttery pan with a few personalized twists, and I
promise you will convert back to crisp. We’re actually going to do a few variations here, but let’s
start with a basic. Oh, and let me just say up front that apple crisp is one of those recipes that takes less than
10 minutes to get into the oven, and really doesn’t require any measuring at all. I will try to give some
rough ideas on amounts and measurements, but I always eyeball it.
So for a yummy autumn apple
crisp we’ll need:
"MsoNormal" style="text-indent:.5in">-4 or 5 apples (mix varieties for best taste and texture results, or ask
your grower what their favorite baking varieties are)
splash of lime or lemon juice
-about 1 cup of brown
-1 stick of butter (plus a pinch of salt if your
butter is unsalted)
-2 or 3 cups of rolled oats (instant
oatmeal is ok too)
-a few tablespoons of flour
class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent:.5in">-1 cup chopped walnuts
-about ½ cup currents (you can substitute raisins)
-a big dash of cinnamon (plus nutmeg, allspice, or other pumpkin pie spices in desired)
Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a small, high walled baking pan.
Slice up the apples and remove the core and seeds. I like to slice them up pretty thin, but I tend to leave the
skin on. But if you have one of those spiral apple slicers, that would be the perfect tool.
"MsoNormal" style="text-indent:.5in">You want the apples to nearly fill the pan, leaving up to an inch of
space. So slice up as many apples as your pan needs and increase other ingredients proportionally. Sprinkle about
¼ cup sugar over the apples along with some cinnamon and the lime juice, which will also help keep the
apples color. Mix these all together.
Next, chop the
walnuts and layer them over the apples along with the currants. In a separate microwave safe bowl, melt the butter
in the microwave on high until no solids remain. Stir in the rest of the sugar and the oats and flour. Basivally,
you want the oats to be well coated with butter and sugar, and not have too much that is dry, so stir well. Add in
a little more cinnamon and nutmeg and spread this crisp topping evenly over the pan.
style="text-indent:.5in">When the oven is heated up, just put the pan on a center rack and bake for about 30-45
minutes, depending on how big a pan you are baking. Your house will fill with an unmistakably autumn smell of
apples and cinnamon an dit will be hard not to take this crisp out early and devour it before it’s time. But
wait until the apples get all nice and soft before you take it out of the oven.
style="text-indent:.5in">Yum! Now that is a dessert I can get behind, and it takes almost no time at all (except
for the waiting!). I’ve got some high quality vanilla ice cream in the freezer that will top off this
classic apple crisp perfectly. Nice work!
Now that we’ve mastered the
basic apple crisp, let’s start talking about some variations. I’ve got my eye on one radical idea: how
about a butternut squash and apple crisp? It could either be in the sweet category, or be a sweet side dish for
porkchops or a roast. I think I would play with just a hint of spicy chili powder in the crisp topping for this
Or how about a pear and apple crisp with
pecans and candied ginger? Yum! Just dice up the candied ginger really small so it isn’t overpowering.
I’d serve this one with lavender and maple syrup whipped cream. Uh oh, my mouth is watering again.
class="MsoNormal" style="text-indent:.5in">Remember, this recipe is really hard to mess up, so you should feel
free to play around with it. What would dried cranberries taste like instead of currants? Could we do another
layer of the crisp mix underneath the apples, and maybe even grind up some of the nuts to go into that layer? Ooh,
or how crazy would it be to try to sneak in a layer of honey-sweetened ricotta cheese between two layers of apples
or pears? I think this would add an awesome creamy component.
So get some fruit from a local grower, grab some butter, oats, and sugar, a few spices, and you are
ready to make the perfect dessert at a moment’s notice. I think fruit-based desserts are king, and you can
eat them any time of day with little guilt. I’d love to hear your favorite fall treats. Send me any
questions or comments to Isaac@kohoradio.com. Cooking local in the KOHO
Kitchen, I’m Isaac Kaplan-Woolner.