It's that time of year when many varieties of apples are showing up at the farmers markets... and the time of year when some people go on apple-picking trips to local orchards.
TART APPLE AND PUMPKIN SOUP
3 lbs. pie pumpkin (or 3 c. unsweetened pumpkin pulp)
3 Tablespoons butter
4 granny smith, or other tart apples, peeled, cored, and chopped finely
4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 clove minced garlic
4 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 cup cream
2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
one-half cup fresh apple cider
Salt and white pepper
one-half cup diced dried apples
1. Cut the pie pumpkin in half and remove the seeds. Put the cut surface of the pumpkin down onto a sheet tray filled with a thin layer of water. Bake in a 350 degree oven until tender (about 45 minutes). Scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and reserve.
2. Meanwhile, saute apples in butter in a saute pan. When they are lightly browned and soft, remove from pan and reserve.
3. In a large saucepan, cook the bacon until lightly colored. Add the onion and cook until transparent. Add the garlic and cook 1 more minute.
4. Add half of the sautéed apples, chicken stock, bay leaf and pumpkin pulp. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cream and sage and bring to a boil. Remove bay leaf. Puree in a food processor until smooth. At this point, the soup can be chilled and reheated later.
5. When ready to serve, add salt and pepper to taste, cider, and remaining sautéed diced apples. Bring to a boil and ladle into serving dishes. Garnish with a sprinkle of dried apples.
APPLESAUCE BAKED CUSTARD Yield: 6 servings
1 one-half lbs apples, peeled, cored and diced (5-6 cups) (Gala, McIntosh, or Jonathan apples are perfect for this recipe)
three-fourths cup water
one-half cup brown sugar (minimum)
one- teaspoon cinnamon
one-quarter teaspoon grated orange zest
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 and one-half cups milk
1. In a medium saucepan, combine apples, water, one-half cup of brown sugar, cinnamon, and orange zest. Bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer.
2. Stirring frequently, continue to cook the apples 15-20 minutes or until they are very soft. It may be necessary to add more water if the apples are dry.
3. Using a potato masher, coarsely mash the apples. Check for sweetness. You may need to add more brown sugar if not sweet enough. Let the applesauce cool to room temperature.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add milk and mix until incorporated.
5. Divide the applesauce between 6 custard cups. Place them a roasting pan or baking dish. Carefully ladle the custard mixture on top of the applesauce so that the applesauce remains on the bottom of the custard cups.
6. Pour lukewarm water into the pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the custard cups.
7. Place the pan in a 350° F oven and bake for 1-1 one-quarter hours or until the custard has solidified. Carefully remove the custard cups from the water bath and allow them to cool slightly. These applesauce custards can be served either warm or chilled.