Every once in a while, I find myself a little depressed about the new way of life around the coronavirus – I find myself looking for things that bring me back to normalcy.
What I see are apples. I see them growing and ripening all over the Northeast Kingdom as I take my morning walk or make my twice a week drive into town. We not only see them growing in orchards but along roadsides and old homesteads in the woods. They are doing what they always do in the fall – provide us with delicious apples to eat and cook. They are completely normal!
I can’t wait to pick them for use in my kitchen, where they will scent my home with the unforgettable fragrance of fall and give me a sense of normalcy.
The most important piece of advice I can give on cooking with apples is to know your apple and make sure it is flavorful. A nice local apple either picked or purchased will outshine many of the supermarket apples that are good to eat raw but don’t have the flavor to withstand the cooking stage.
Pandowdy gets its name from either its plain and simple appearance or from the technique of poking the top dough into the apples near the end of cooking known as ‘dowdying’. There are many different versions of this dessert, but they all season the apples with molasses, cinnamon, and nutmeg and have a biscuit type dough on top. I give you a classic and simple one below.
- 4 cups local apples – pared, peeled and sliced
- ½ cup molasses
- ¼ cup sugar
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- Pinch salt
- ½ cup melted butter
- 1 egg
- ½ cup half and half
- ½ cup sugar
- 1½ cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Pinch salt
Make the filling:
Add the sugar, molasses, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt to the apples in a mixing bowl. Toss together and set aside. Butter a deep baking dish and add the apple mix. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the topping:
Stir together the egg, milk, and sugar and melted butter. Whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder and add to the egg mix. Mix it well with a spoon.
Take the apple mix out of the oven and spread the topping over it. Put it back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes more, until it is browned on top. Note that I did not ‘dowdie’ the dough in this recipe but you can try it.
Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
A retro food worth bringing back this time of year. It is great to serve at lunch instead of potato salad and also goes well with a turkey or ham dinner.
Variations also include making a luncheon salad with chicken and spices added.
- 6-8 apples depending on size
- I like to use a late-season yellow apple but any of your favorites will do.
- Peel and cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 cup chopped celery
- White and red seedless grapes – about 8 of each
- ¼ cup dried currants or dried cranberries
- ½ to ¾ cup walnuts
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- Salt and pepper to taste
When you chop the apples squeeze a lemon over the pieces to keep them from turning brown. Combine the apples, grapes, currants, walnuts, and celery in a large mixing bowl.
Add the mayonnaise slowly to your preference – you may not have to add it all.
Add the parsley and salt and pepper to taste.
Chicken Curry Salad
Add a heaping tablespoon full of curry powder mixed with a teaspoon of sugar to this recipe and pieces of boneless skinless chicken breast that have been poached in salted water on the stovetop. You will want to add more mayonnaise as well.
Serve this salad on top of greens with a roll on the side for a terrific luncheon entrée or in a wrap with a small green salad on the side.
Apple Bread Pudding
The bread you use in this recipe is important. I use a firm homemade-style white loaf. A baguette or Italian loaf can be used. Make sure the bread is a little toothsome and not full of air. Using bread you cut yourself is helpful.
You may sprinkle a little cinnamon and sugar on the top of the bread pudding if you choose.
- 1 loaf white bread with the crust removed
- ¼ pound softened butter
- 1 ½ cups applesauce
- 2 cups peeled, cored and sliced apples
- 6 eggs
- 3 cups whole milk
- ¾ cups of sugar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla
- Cinnamon and sugar for the top – optional
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the bread in 1/2-inch slices and lightly butter each side. Cut the slices in half (roughly 2"x3" pieces) and set aside.
Lightly butter the bottom of an 8 x 11-inch lasagna pan and put a layer of the sliced apples in the bottom.
‘Butter’ the top of each slice of the bread with the applesauce and lay in the pan on top of the apples overlapping one another (like putting shingles on a roof).
Crack the eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk by hand or with an electric mixer set on low. Add the sugar and whisk or use a mixer to slowly combine the eggs with the sugar. Add vanilla. Whisk in the milk until combined to form a nice custard mix. It should not be foamy. Pour half the mix over the bread. Push the bread down into the custard mix with the palm of your hands until the bread has absorbed the liquid. Add the rest of the liquid. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to ensure the milk is absorbed.
Put a thin layer of apples on the top of the pudding and dot with butter.
Place the pudding in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes.
The pudding should be puffed and brown but still a little nervous. Check for doneness by inserting a knife into the center of the pudding and pulling it toward you just enough to see if there is milky liquid in the pan. If the bottom is still milky (clear is all right) put it back in the oven for 5-minute intervals checking for doneness each time.
Serve while still warm with warm maple cream sauce and a small slab of vanilla ice cream.