Apples: From The Trees To The Table

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Crisp crunchy apples are my favorite fruit. I try to eat one every day, which isn’t difficult since there are myriad local apple choices right now.

This week, an American classic dish—pork chops and applesauce—gets a decadent new face here with Smoked Polish Kielbasa With Sauerkraut And Apples. The recipe was adapted from my late, dear friend and cooking schoolteacher, Liz Clark from Keokuk, Iowa, and author of “Apple Companion.”

For dessert, pick your favorite crisp variety to make this delicious Apple Cranberry Custard Torte With Rum Butterscotch Sauce. The recipe was recommended from a colleague and fellow foodie friend Joanna Pruess, who was inspired by Charlotte Lane Café’s Chef Roland Glauser in Nova Scotia.

Bon apple appétit!

Smoked Polish Kielbasa With Sauerkraut And Apples(Serves 6)6 smoked kielbasa

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon bacon fat or unsalted butter

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 medium firm, crisp red apples, unpeeled, cored and diced

2 medium red potatoes, peeled and diced

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon caraway seeds

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

1 pound good quality sauerkraut, rinsed and squeezed dry

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 cup rich chicken stock or demi glace

1/2 cup heavy creamTo prepare:Parboil the kielbasa in a saucepan for 10 minutes, then drain well and pat dry.

Cut a few diagonal slits in the kielbasa.

Add oil and bacon fat or butter to a heavy skillet and cook over medium high heat.

When the foam subsides, sauté kielbasa until brown on both sides.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board and slice into bite-sized pieces and set aside.

Add the onion to the skillet and sauté until translucent.

Add apples, potatoes, caraway seeds, thyme and bay leaves.

Sauté, adding more oil if needed, until the apples begin to soften.

Add sauerkraut and stir well to blend.

Stir in chicken stock, then taste and adjust the seasonings.

Remove the bay leaves.

Lightly oil an oval enameled or porcelain au gratin dish.

Cover the bottom with a layer of sauerkraut mixture.

Arrange the kielbasa over the sauerkraut and cover the meat with remaining sauerkraut mixture.

Pour cream over the entire affair.

Bake until the liquid forms thick bubbles around the edge of the dish and the sauerkraut begins to brown slightly on top, about 35 minutes.

Serve with ice-cold beer or chilled riesling.Apple Cranberry Custard Torte With Rum Butterscotch Sauce(Serves 8)Butter and flour for greasing and dusting the pan

6 McIntosh or other crisp sweet-tart apples, peeled, quartered and sliced

1/2 cup fresh cranberries, washed, picked over and drained

1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

3 large eggs
1½ cups granulated sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted

1½ teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup whole milk

1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Whipped cream, for garnish

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish

For the butterscotch sauce

1 stick unsalted butter

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Dark rum, to tasteTo prepare:Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Position the rack in the bottom third of the oven.

Brush a 9-inch springform pan with melted butter and dust with flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs until frothy.

Gradually add sugar and beat until thick and lemon-colored, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add to the eggs.

Whisk milk, melted butter and vanilla together and slowly mix into the eggs until well blended.

Toss apples, cranberries and almonds together.

With a rubber spatula, fold the fruit into the batter.

Pour the batter into prepared pan and set it on a cookie sheet to catch any drips.

Bake the torte for 10 minutes on the bottom rack, then move it to the top rack, and continue baking until a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 50 minutes longer.

Reduce the heat if the cake gets too dark. It should look golden and caramelized.

Remove from the oven and carefully run a sharp knife along the ring but do not open the spring form.

Place the torte in the refrigerator until completely cold—preferably overnight—before releasing torte from the pan.

Transfer torte to a glass plate.

Meanwhile, to prepare the butterscotch sauce, melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat.

Stir in brown sugar, cream and salt and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat.

Whisk vanilla into the sauce, taking care, as it will bubble up.

Add rum, according to personal preference.

Pour the sauce over the torte, garnish with whipped cream and fresh mint, and serve.

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