You've heard the phrase, "As American as apple pie." While apples provide the fabric for some of our most basic, familiar and comfortable foods, they can be used in more versatile ways than you might have imagined. While you can't go wrong with staples like apple pie, caramel apples and apple fritters, there's plenty more to explore in the world of cooking with apples.
Apples are most often used in sweet desserts, but there are plenty of opportunities to use apples in savory dishes. Apples - not to mention apple juice or apple sauce - can add a sweet and sour touch that can be the perfect complement to typically savory dishes, like a pork roast, garden salad or even something as simple as chicken salad.
If you're still craving something sweet, apples can also provide that extra needed flavor to a variety of desserts. Since calories tend to add up rather quickly in sweet dishes, apple products can often add a unique sweetness, as well as a healthy dose of antioxidants known for whole body goodness. Apples and apple sauce make for simple and delicious additions to cookies, cakes, bars and sweet dessert breads.
Recognizing the versatility offered by apples, Tree Top, a grower-owned co-op and producer of a wide variety of 100 percent U.S. juices and apple sauce, is offering home chefs the chance to cook creatively with apples and showcase their recipes as part of the fruit-processing cooperative's 50th anniversary celebration and recipe contest. "America's Secret Ingredient" recipes will be judged on originality, perceived appetite appeal and perceived ease of preparation, with a winner in both the sweet and savory categories receiving a hotel and travel package to New York City to attend the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival in October.
"It is very important for my family to keep a nutritious diet. I incorporate apples into my everyday routine by sauteeing vegetables in apple juice or even making fruit smoothies," says actress and producer Melissa Joan Hart, who is also a spokesperson for Tree Top.
"The whole family enjoys the applesauce and the snack cups make a convenient treat in the boy's lunchbox. My kids especially like to dip whole wheat toast into Tree Top's cinnamon applesauce," says Hart.
Entering the recipe contest is easy. Now until July 26, you can submit your recipes at americas-secret-ingredient.com. You can enter one recipe per e-mail address per day for the duration of the contest. You must be 21, an amateur cook and a resident of the United States to enter. Recipes must include at least one of the following Tree Top products: 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of apple sauce or 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of apple juice or 1/8 cup (2 oz.) of apple juice frozen concentrate.
If you need some inspiration for using apple products in your cooking, a wide variety of recipes can be found at treetop.com. The following are two examples of delicious apple dishes, one sweet and one savory.
Apple Bread Braid (sweet)
1/2 cup Tree Top Apple Juice
1 1/3 cups apples, sliced (approximately 2 small apples, or 1/2 lb apples)
1 tablespoon dry yeast
2 ounces lukewarm water
2 ounces lukewarm milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg (room temperature)
1/4 cup butter (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Combine yeast and water in a large bowl. Let it set for 15 minutes. Stir in milk, sugar, salt, egg and butter. Gradually add the flour until a soft dough is formed. Knead dough on a floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Butter a clean bowl; put dough in bowl and turn to coat with butter. Cover and leave in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours. While dough is rising, combine apples, apple juice, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cornstarch and lime juice in a medium saucepan. Stir together and place over medium heat. Cook and stir occasionally until apples are semi-cooked and sauce has thickened. Remove from stove and let cool.
Grease a large cookie sheet. Punch down the dough; knead briefly on a floured surface. Roll dough into a 10-by-15-inch rectangle. Carefully move dough to a cookie sheet. Spread cooled filling down middle of dough rectangle.
With a sharp knife, cut 1-inch strips at an angle on both sides of filling. Fold up end, and then fold over the strips, alternating from side to side until all strips are folded over. Tuck excess dough underneath at the end. Cover loosely with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled.
Bake in a 375 F oven for 30 minutes, or until nicely browned. Transfer to a rack to cool. Brush with a sugar glaze when partially cooled.
Yakima Valley Green Salad (savory)
1/4 cup Tree Top Frozen Concentrate Apple Juice, thawed
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon minced onion, if desired
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 large bag of Italian blend salad mix or hearts of romaine
1 Bartlett pear; cored and cubed
1 cup fresh apple slices
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup chopped cashews
Mix the first eight ingredients in a bowl or jar and store in refrigerator. In a large salad bowl, add the remaining ingredients. Shake dressing well, pour desired amount over salad just before serving. Toss and enjoy.
Article Posted: June 28, 2010