The toughest part of shopping for apples in stores is deciding which apple is best for which recipe. Most are great for eating out of hand, but texture, flavor and size all contribute to whether the chosen variety is best for apple crisp or applesauce. Here is a guide for you.

Baking

Whether stuffed and baked whole for a dessert or chopped up and hidden under a layer of dough or crumble topping, these apples hold their shape during cooking:

Rome apples are very large with green-speckled red skin. This variety makes an impressive dessert when baked whole.

Extra tart with thick, “apple green” skin, Granny Smiths are a better choice than a sweeter baking apple, like Golden Delicious, for balanced pies and crisps.

Braeburn apples are very crisp, sweet and tangy making them great for baking or eating raw.

Golden Delicious are excellent all-purpose apples that are particularly good for baking in cakes and other desserts.

Jonagold apples have a honeyed sweetness and crisp yellow flesh. This variety holds its shape during baking or sautéing.

Saucing

These apples break down with heat, making them perfect for purées and sauces:

Cortland apples are sweet and juicy and their flesh breaks down easily with cooking, making them perfect for a sauce. These crisp apples are also great raw in salads as their flesh resists browning.

With shiny, deep red skin and bright white flesh, Empire apples are crisp and a little spicy. Cored and stewed, this variety cooks down into a beautiful rosy pink applesauce.

Stout Macoun apples are tender, juicy and sweet making them perfect for cooking.

Tart-sweet McIntosh apples are juicy with a great fragrance, but they don’t stand up to long cooking times.

Munching

If you’re simply looking for a good snack, apples fit the bill. These are some favorite varieties for eating out of hand or using in salads:

Honeycrisp apples are extra crisp and tangy. They are excellent eaten raw, but will also hold their shape when baked.

With red skin and light green patches, Fuji apples are juicy and fragrant.

Crisp and mildly sweet, Gala apples are a another good eating apple.

Pink Lady apples are pink/red in color with crisp, juicy flesh and a complex flavor.

Dried Apple Slices

Serves 6

Dried apples are great for snacks and lunch boxes. You can also add them to salads along

with nuts and grapes, or serve with roasted pork or alongside a sandwich, as you would chips.

Ingredients

  • 2 apples (Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

Preheat the oven to 225°F. Slice apples as thinly as possible, about 1/8-inch or thinner (use a mandolin, if you have one). Arrange slices in a single layer on 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 1 1/2 hours; turn slices over and continue baking 1 1/2 hours longer or until completely dry and crisp (they will not crisp more after cooling).

Timing will vary depending on the moisture content of the apples and the thickness of the slices. Let cool. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.

Celery-Root Soup with Bacon and Green Apple

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 medium leeks (3/4 lb), white and pale green parts only
  • 3 bacon slices (2 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 lb celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 celery rib, very thinly sliced (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup inner celery leaves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

Directions

Halve leeks lengthwise, then coarsely chop. Wash leeks in a bowl of cold water, agitating them, then lift out onto paper towels and pat dry.

Cook bacon in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel.

Pour off all but 2 teaspoons of fat from the pot, then add oil and cook leeks over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 6 minutes.

Add celery root and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add water and broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until celery root is very tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

While soup simmers, thinly slice apple lengthwise into 1/8-inch-thick slices, removing the core, then cut slices into 1/8-inch matchstick pieces. Gently toss with celery and celery leaves.

Purée soup in batches in a blender or immersion hand blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Return soup to cleaned pot, if you removed it to a blender.

If soup is too thick, thin with 1/2 to 3/4 cup water. Stir in salt, pepper and half-and-half and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until warm.

Season with salt according to taste, then divide among 4 bowls and top with apple-celery mixture and coarsely crumbled bacon.

Italian Farro with Sausage and Apples

Farro, a wheat like grain, makes a delicious alternative to rice and similar side-dishes that go with with meat, poultry and fish.

4 to 6 side-dish servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hulled whole-grain farro
  • 3/4 cup bulk pork sausage (about 3 oz.) or pork sausages, casings removed
  • Olive oil (if needed)
  • 2 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 Fuji apple (8 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

Sort farro, discarding strawlike bits of hulls and other debris. Pour farro into a bowl, cover completely with cool water, stir, and skim off and discard any additional hulls that float to the surface. Drain farro.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan over high heat, crumble sausage with a spoon and stir often until browned, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage to a paper towel lined bowl and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat or, if necessary, add oil to equal 1 tablespoon fat in pan. Add farro and return sausage to the pan and stir until grains are dried, about 2 minutes.

Add broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover pan, and simmer (mixture foams, so check and stir occasionally to keep it from boiling over) until farro is tender to the bite and no longer tastes starchy, about 25 minutes. Stir in parsley, cover, remove from heat, and let stand 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and core apple; cut into about 1/4-inch dice and mix with lemon juice. Stir into farro, season to taste with salt and pepper and pour into a serving bowl.

Ham, Sweet Onion and Apple Pizza

4 servings

Ingredients

  1. Olive oil cooking spray
  2. 1 pound package refrigerated pizza dough, whole wheat if available
  3. 1 cup apple butter
  4. 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  5. 1/4 cup diced sweet onion (Vidalia)
  6. 1/2 cup cored, seeded and diced Golden Delicious apple
  7. 1/2 cup thinly sliced deli ham

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Lightly spray a baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray. Place dough on pan.

With floured hands press dough into a large rectangle.

Top with apple butter, cheese, onion, apple and ham.

Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Roast Pork Chops with Apples and Sage

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small tart apples, peeled, cored and thickly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/16 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 boneless pork chops
  • 1/4 cup apple cider

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the oil in a medium broiler pan, gratin dish or shallow ovenproof skillet.

Layer the apples (such as Granny Smith) on the bottom and season with half the sage, salt and pepper.

Place the pork chops on top and sprinkle with the remaining sage, salt and pepper. Pour the cider over the pork chops.

Roast for 15 minutes. Gently turn the pork chops over, basting them with the cider from the bottom of the pan. Stir the apples to allow them to cook evenly. Roast another 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler. Broil the pork and apples for 4 to 6 minutes, or until just golden brown.

Apple and Walnut Torte

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup orange-flavored liqueur (ex. Grand Marnier)
  • 1/4 cup cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 orange, zested
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted (or Smart Balance butter alternative)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups diced peeled apples (2-3 depending on size)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, heat the orange liqueur. Turn off the heat and add the cranberries and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon and the orange zest. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, melted butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Add the apples, walnuts and cranberries. Mix well.

Spoon the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 by 2-inch glass baking dish or 8-inch cake pan.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

A Note of Sadness:

A great Italian chef and food writer passed away on Sunday – Marcella Hazan. You can read about her life and how she changed the face of Italian cooking in America in the New York Times aticle: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/30/dining/Marcella-Hazan-dies-changed-the-way-americans-cook-italian-food.html?pagewanted=all

Following are some of the posts I have written in the past about Marcella Hazan’s influences.

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/06/three-cookbooks-i-cherish/

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/05/15/does-shape-matter/

http://jovinacooksitalian.com/2012/08/09/why-should-you-make-homemade-pasta/

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