Oct 31, 2012

Apple of My Eye

Did you know the average American eats close to 50 pounds of apples, fresh or processed, every year?
Apples not only taste great, they provide essential vitamins, minerals and fiber that help to protect from chronic diseases. Research has verified the truth behind that famous adage about keeping the doctor away. Recent studies have linked apple products to helping with everything from weight loss to different types of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and even asthma. Some of the most recent studies on apples have linked apples with improving the symptoms of Alzheimer´s disease and possibly decreasing your risk for developing it as well as improved immunity due to the pectin (soluble fiber) found in the apples peel.
While the apple is not an excellent source of dietary fiber, the type of fiber found in apples combined with other apple nutrients offer tremendous health benefits. One of the greatest benefits is lowering of fat levels in the body, leading to both weight loss and increased cardiovascular health.
The bottom line is—eat apples often!
Apples are so popular they actually have their own holiday. October 21 is Apple Day and is celebrated by apple growers all over the world. In orchards and at apple farms, the entire month of October is celebrated as the peak of apple season with fairs and recipe contests. There are many different apple holidays celebrated throughout the year, from “Eat a Red Apple” day to “Apple Gifting” day. It seems people are so enamored of their favorite apple that just the thought of apples turns every day into a holiday!
To get the most benefit from apples one should eat them raw. You can cut them up to make a fruit salad; add apple slices to your favorite vegetable salad or just bite right in. For those who do not enjoy raw apples, we’ve got some delicious recipes for you to try.

This recipe combines apples with another cool weather product—chestnuts. Use fresh chestnuts; boil and peel or use packaged peeled chestnuts.

for the crust:
5 ounces margarine, cold
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

for the filling and glaze:
12 ounces peeled chestnuts
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon rum extract
3 Golden delicious apples, peeled
2 eggs
1/3 cup apricot jam
2 tablespoons water

prepare the crust:
This crust is most easily prepared in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Blend together margarine and confectioners’ sugar. Add egg and process until combined. Add flour and pulse 4 or 5 times to incorporate flour.
Gather together dough and pat into a large disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate one hour until the dough is firm.

prepare filling:
In the food processor, pulse chestnuts, confectioners’ sugar and rum until just combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, pulsing to incorporate.
Cut the apple into quarters and remove the core. Slice each quarter as thin as possible using a mandoline or slicer and set aside the small end slices for another use.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out the dough into a 12” circle. Ease dough into a 9” tart pan with a removable bottom, folding in any overhanging dough. Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Freeze tart shell for 20 minutes. Place a sheet of parchment on the dough and fill with pie weights or dry beans. Bake10 minutes and remove from oven.
 Remove parchment and weights and return to the oven. Bake 5 minutes longer or until lightly golden.
Spread chestnut filling in the shell and top with apple slices.
Lay out the apples in a circular pattern, slightly overlapping slices. Bake 40 minutes or filling is set and apples are lightly browned.
In the microwave or a small saucepan, gently warm the apricot jam and stir in the water. Remove tart from the oven and generously brush apple slices with melted jam. Serve at room temperature.

This is a great way to use your leftover challah. Just process challah in your food processor and freeze crumbs until needed.  Defrost and warm to room temperature before using.

4 cups apples, about 3, peeled and thinly sliced   
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
½ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon grated lemon peel
½ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons orange liquor
½ cup canola oil
3 cups soft challah crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease 8 glass or ceramic ramekins.
Mix the apples with ¾ cup of the sugar, cloves, lemon peel, orange juice and liquor.  Set aside.  Toss the breadcrumbs with the oil and remaining sugar. 
Fill ramekins with 5 alternating layers of apples and crumbs, starting and ending with breadcrumbs.  Press down on the layers as you fill the ramekin.
Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Uncover and bake for 10 more minutes or until the crumbs are browned and the apples are tender.  Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you like.

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