--Jane Austen in a letter to her sister Cassandra, 17 October 1815
I love apples. Gala, Arkansas Black, Fuji, Pink Lady - doesn't matter. But with due respect to Jane Austen, I can't bake an apple pie. For some reason, they always come out watery even though I've sprinkled the apples with flour like all the cookbooks say.
Rather than be confounded by a pie, I've discovered other ways to incorporate apples into my culinary endeavors. Here are two of my favorite recipes -- they're fast, easy, tasty and part of the domestic happiness at my house.
Appetizer: Apple, Brie and Bread
1 medium-sized or large unpeeled apple, cut into thin slices (Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith-- they all work)
1 French baguette or Ciabatta bread, cut into 1/2 inch slices* (If the Ciabatta is very wide, then cut your slices in half)
A wedge of Brie, cut into thin slices*
* How much bread and Brie you slice depends on how many you want to make. One apple goes a long way!
Preheat oven to 350.
- Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
- Place the sliced bread on the cookie sheet.
- Top each piece of bread with a slice of apple and a slice of Brie (so the cheese is on top).
- Pop into the top shelf of the oven and cook for about 8 minutes. You want the cheese to get a little soft but you don't want it to melt and fall off the bread. Touch the cheese with your finger -- if it feels warm and soft, it's done. If not, then give another minute or two.
- Remove from oven. Place on a serving tray. Collect compliments.
* If you want to get a little fancier, you can top the Brie with crushed walnuts or sliced almonds. Just make sure none of your guests has a nut allergy
Dessert: Apple-Apricot Wontons
NOTE: You can dice and cook the apples the day ahead and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to make your wontons. Just make the wontons the day you're going to serve them (before your guests arrive so you're not cooking them while they're around). This ensures maximum crunchiness.
2 medium-sized apples or 1 large apple, diced (Gala, Pink Lady, Granny Smith -- they all work)
2 tablespoons butter
1 package of wonton wrappers (about 36 wrappers in the packs I buy at the supermarket)
1/2 jar (or less) of apricot jam
Canola or some other non-flavored oil for cooking
Powdered sugar to sprinkle on top
Vanilla ice cream (optional, but is a nice touch)
- Dice the unpeeled apples. The smaller they are, the faster they cook.
. (You can peel them if you want, but it's not necessary. I never do.)
- Melt butter in a small frying pan. Toss in the apples.
- Cook apples for a few minutes until soft. Taste to tell.
- Lay out wonton wrappers on a cutting board or counter and dab a smidge of apricot jam (1/8 of a teaspoon) in the bottom triangle.
- Put a half teaspoon* of the cooked apple on top of the jam, then seal and fold the wonton. They have directions on how to do this on the package - it's easy, I promise.
*You may end up putting a little more or less apple in your wonton once you figure out how to get it to stay in when you seal and fold. Don't panic. Just make it work.
- Assemble the desired number of wontons (I plan on 3-4 per dinner guest)
- Put about a half inch of oil into the small frying pan you used to cook the apples. When the oil is hot, toss in three wontons at a time (not touching). They will cook very quickly -- turn over to brown each side. They should be a light golden brown.
- Place cooked wontons on a dish with a paper towel to drain.
When you're ready to serve:
Place 3-4 wontons on a dish, dust lightly with powdered sugar and put a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. Or you can just put out a giant platter of your dessert wontons (again dusted with powdered sugar). I never have leftovers. —CG