Posts tagged #applesauce

Roasted applesauce

The first time my friend Julie came over and opened our refrigerator, she almost started to cry.

“A baked potato!” she yelled.

“Huh?” What was that about? Her face, illuminated by the fluorescent shimmer of the interior of the fridge, was filled with an expression of longing that I could not fathom.

The potato was a shriveled specimen, wrapped in foil, a few days old. My mother was an uninspired cook. Leftover meatloaf, stringy pot-roast, gray-green overcooked peas were standard icebox occupants. Yet a plain potato moved Julie to the edge of tears.

Julie’s family was what we now euphemistically label as dysfunctional. Back then, when we were in high school, we understood implicitly that the whole lot of them was not just eccentric, but crazy. Lord knows what that poor girl had in her fridge.

Oh, the normalcy of a leftover baked potato.

As I sat eating a baked apple the other morning the memory of Julie popped into my head. The apple, warmed in the microwave and then topped with cold, plain yogurt, smushed and swirled together in the bowl, made the most pleasant of breakfasts. Hot and cold, sweet and tart, nothing fancy. Yet I seem to be the only one in my family who appreciates that particular pleasure. Leftover baked apples are the wallflowers of our fridge, sadly rejected and abandoned by foragers. They’re just so

ordinary

. So very plain and brown.

It dawned on me at breakfast that applesauce might be looked upon with a little more respect by the men in the family than baked apples because of childhood associations. When apples are baked with cinnamon and cider, the sauce takes on deep roasted flavors and makes standard applesauce seem pallid and anemic. I was sure it would entice them, and it did.

With all the feasting and special foods of the season, I know that when the hoopla dies down we will be craving something to soothe our palates and our souls. Today, I think of Julie and the baked potato, and I am grateful for simple, everyday pleasures.

I confess that I don’t normally like cinnamon in applesauce, but here I concede that it adds a welcome, warming undertone if you don’t overdo it (plus it’s good for you!) The cider cooks down and sweetens the sauce, so you needn’t add sugar. Use any apples you happen to have on hand. Some apples will take longer to cook than others. Consider this “recipe” as a guideline.

Roasted applesauce

Makes 4 cups

12 apples, cored

3/4 to 1 cup apple cider

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a 9- by 12-inch baking dish, arrange the apples. Fill the centers with cider, and sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake for one hour, or until the apples are very soft, almost bursting. Leave to cool briefly.

3. While the apples are warm, pass them through a food mill. Discard the skins and seeds.

Posted on November 26, 2013 and filed under Sweets, Breakfast.

KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) In The New Year: Homemade Applesauce

I decided ahead of time not to make any new year’s resolutions this year, and I’m sticking to my plan. It’s so much easier than sticking to resolutions. Still, not only is it a new year, it is also a new decade, so I have been thinking about the future and how I want it to be different from the past. Not that the past has been bad, mind you. This last decade has been the best ever. I’ve watched my son grow from a 10-year-old sweetie pie, to a man (though still a sweetie pie, he’s now a manly sweetie pie.) In fact, for me, motherhood has been the best job ever. Yet it is a job with a clear-cut expiration date, and I’ve hit it.

So many thoughts have been swirling in my head over the first few days of January that I’m feeling dizzy. It’s like a treadmill of ideas. As soon as you cross out one idea, another one pops up and the list stays the same size. Actually, it keeps growing. I resolved to keep my eye on the list for a while without doing too much editing. As it grew, I saw a pattern. I continue to sit with it, adding and sometimes subtracting. In an effort to simplify, I've identified one over-arching objective for the year that encompasses all the little goals. I was getting hung up on the minutiae.

I am once again pulling out Laura Day’s book The Circle and working through her new one How to Rule the World from Your Couch. Laura’s books are full of really good tools to stay focused and use all your senses to navigate the steps to lead you where you want to go. (Take a look on Amazon; there's a world of help in them!) So I’m hopeful.  That’s about as close as I can come to a new year’s resolution.  Only the simple and basic will work for me right now—as simple and basic as the applesauce I am making by the potful for the manly sweetie pie while he’s still at home on winter break.

Right now, most local New England apples are past their prime, not as crunchy and sweet as they were a few months ago. The Rome apples I used were a tad mushy, but they made superb applesauce with a gorgeous rosy color. This is not so much a recipe as a method. The amounts are simply supplied as guidelines. You need some liquid in the bottom of the pot to keep the apples from scorching. If you happen to have a little cider around, pour about 1/8-inch of it in the bottom of the pot. If not, water will do. Also, a little sugar (white sugar, brown sugar, sucanat or agave syrup) in moderation will brighten the sauce and bring out the apple flavor. By moderation I mean a few tablespoons. Taste and sweeten accordingly.

While I am not a fan of single-purpose gadgets, I have hung on to my food mill through several moves. I acquired it at a yard sale for fifty cents. I could use it for potatoes or other purees, but I don’t. You bet I am glad to have it through most of the winter, though. Without it I would have to peel and core the apples, and I would miss the beauteous pink that cooking them with the skin provides. If you want to invest in one, you can buy this food mill. Or keep your eyes out for one in a second-hand store or garage sale.

Really simple applesauce (Makes about 10 cups) 

6 pounds apples

About 3/4 cup apple cider or water

1/4 cup Sucanat, agave syrup, brown sugar, or white sugar, more or less

1. Pour about 1/8-inch cider or water into the bottom of a large pot. Quarter the apples and add them to the pot. Cover the pot with a lid and start cooking the apples over medium heat until you hear the sputtering, bubbling sound of the cider coming to a boil at the bottom of the pot, about 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium-low and move the lid an inch or two so that it partially covers the pot. After about 10 minutes, check the apples. Fold the firm apples on top under the softened pulp on the bottom of the pot.  Check every once and a while, and push the uncooked apples down into the bubbling pulp.  Cook until all the apples are soft and falling apart, 25 to 35 minutes in all.

2. Place a food mill over a pot or bowl. The job is easiest if the food mill fits snugly over the container it is resting on. If you use a pot, you can grasp the two handles together, and if you do the whole operation at a lower level (in an empty sink, for example) it is even easier. Pass the cooked apples through the food mill in batches and discard the peels and seeds. Taste.  If you think the applesauce needs sweetening, stir in the Sucanat. Pour into clean jars and store in the refrigerator.

Posted on January 9, 2010 and filed under Breakfast.