Photographs by Meadow Linn

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome Autumn!

Welcome Autumn! 
Although it’s still relatively warm where I live, I can tell that we’re inching ever closer to fall. Children have been in school for a few weeks already, the morning air is crisp and scented with leaves and smoke, and shadows are regaining their stature.  Fall, to me, is the seasonal equivalent of an egg salad sandwich or mac n’ cheese, familiar and somehow comforting. Yet, I’m not quite ready to give up summer with its concerts in the park, long days, icy cold watermelon, trips to the beach, and farmers’ markets brimming with gorgeous produce. However, fall comes just as I’m longing for cozy afternoons curled up with a cup of tea and heartier fare like rich roasted meats, wild rice salads, baked pumpkin, and of course apples.
Years ago when I was living in Maine, I went apple picking with a friend on a beautiful autumn morning. The tall grass was dewy and our jeans were soaked from our knees down, and the morning mists hung low in the sky, nearly caught in the branches of the Macoun, McIntosh, and Red Delicious. It was somehow like walking through a fairytale.

Even though I’m holding out on saying goodbye to summer, I’m starting to get a taste for the exciting flavors that await us in the coming months. To herald the new season, try making these ooey gooey and delicious baked apples stuffed with brandied raisins and walnuts. Your kitchen will be filled with the heady scent of cinnamon and brown sugar, enveloping you like your favorite wool sweater recently brought out of storage. And maybe (just maybe) giving up summer won’t seem so hard. 

Baked Apples 
with Brandied Walnuts and Raisins

  • 3 tbs unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbs lemon juice (= juice of 1/2 lemon)
  • 2 tbs brandy
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 6 baking apples, peeled and cored

Preheat oven to 350. Cream the butter with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and brandy. Mix in the walnuts and raisins. Peel and core 6 baking apples. If you do not have an apple corer, a melon baler works well. Make a good size well inside the apple to hold the delicious filling. The nuts, if not too finely chopped, will help keeping the filling inside, so don’t dismay if you pierce through the apple. I actually prefer it without the bottom stem. Fill the apples with the nut and raisin mixture and place in a shallow baking dish, lined with parchment paper. Bake until the apples are soft and tender when a fork is inserted, about an hour. If any raisins on the top get a bit too caramelized, remove them before serving. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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