(photo from flickr / s2art)
My favourite fall/winter fruit is apples, and not just because they are a main symbol of Rosh Hashanah, helping us start off the new year with a sweet dip of honey. I believe the adage that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Although the phrase was uttered by Benjamin Franklin, it originated in 1866 in Wales – “eat an apple on going to bed and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.”
Why are apples healthy? They may lower high cholesterol and blood pressure; they have fibre, which can aid digestion; they support a healthy immune system; are a diabetes-friendly fruit; and the antioxidants in apples may play a role in cancer prevention.
All that aside, they just taste great. Here are some recipes to try out, one of which features another New Year’s symbol – the pomegranate.
MOTHER’S ROSH HASHANAH APPLE CAKE
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
2 cups applesauce (or 2 finely chopped apples)
2 tsp baking soda dissolved in 1 tsp wine
4 cups flour
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups raisins
1/2 to 1 cup finely chopped nuts
- Grease two cake pans. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- With an electric or hand mixer, cream oil and sugar.
- Add eggs, cinnamon and cloves.
- Add applesauce, dissolved baking soda and blend. Add flour, vanilla, raisins and nuts.
- Pour into the well-greased cake pans and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
(This recipe was in my files from the 1970s, from Carmel wine company.)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup caramel amaretto
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
4 large, firm apples
- In a saucepan, combine sugar, amaretto, orange rind and juice. Bring to a boil.
- Peel, core and thickly slice apples. Place in the pan as they are sliced. Reduce heat and simmer until apples are tender and liquid has evaporated.
- Remove to a dish. Chill.
- Garnish with shredded coconut or whipped cream.
BAKED STUFFED APPLES
(This recipe by Ann Chantal Altman is from a 2001 Food & Wine cookbook.)
3 tbsp lightly toasted slivered blanched almonds
1.3 ounces of finely crumbled kosher amaretti (almond-flavoured Italian macaroons)
1/3 cup dry currants
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp softened unsalted butter or margarine
1 cup apple juice
2 tbsp dark rum
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a square baking dish.
- In a bowl, mix almonds with amaretti crumbs, currants, brown sugar, cinnamon and lemon zest.
- Remove interior core and seeds of apples within half-inch of bottom. Score apple skin lengthwise at 1.5-inch intervals and arrange in the baking dish. Spoon filling into apples. Pour apple juice and rum around the apples.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and bake 45-50 minutes longer or until apples are very soft. Transfer to plates. Spoon juices on top.
QUICK AND EASY MICROWAVE APPLE COMPOTE
4 large apples
3 to 5 tbsp water or apple juice
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 to 3 tsp sugar
- Cut apples in small pieces, discarding cores. Place in a microwave-safe dish with water or apple juice.
- Cover and microwave on high for three minutes. Stir and microwave for two more minutes.
- Add cinnamon and sugar. Cover and microwave for one to two minutes or until tender. Sprinkle some sugar on top.
APPLES BAKED IN POMEGRANATE SYRUP
4 apples, cored and cut into 16 wedges each
juice from half a pomegranate
1/3 cup apricot preserves
1/2 tsp cinnamon
seeds from half a pomegranate
- Use non-stick vegetable spray on a microwavable baking dish.
- Place apple wedges in the dish.
- Squeeze juice from half a pomegranate and add apple juice to make 1/2 cup.
- Add preserves and cinnamon and mix well. Pour over apples and coat. Cover.
- Microwave on high for two minutes and stir. Continue until apples are barely tender, at least two minutes more.
- Remove seeds from remaining pomegranate half, discard white pith. Sprinkle over apples and serve.
Sybil Kaplan is a Jerusalem-based journalist and author. She has edited/compiled nine kosher cookbooks and is a food writer for North American Jewish publications.