Friday, December 2, 2011

Harvest Baked Apples, CSA Wrap-up

I don't make desserts like this often, but we had been getting all these great apples in the CSA that I wanted to finally do something really special with them. I used a ton of substitutions and it still tasted great. Raisins for currents, apple juice for apple cider, spiced rum for dark rum - I even substituted white vinegar for lemon juice! Did you know you can do that? It wouldn't work in all situations obviously, but in this case we didn't even notice.

This is the last CSA of the season! This was our first year doing a full CSA box all on our own, and overall we were very pleased with the quality of Denison's produce. Very, very little was wasted. Even though it was challenging at times, I was almost always able to plan meals that used up everything. During the weeks when I had more time I tried to plan new and interesting meals (things that would be fun to blog about), and during busier weeks I froze things for later, made vegetable soup, roasted a huge pan of mixed veggies, etc.

Behold, a photo collage displaying all 26 weeks of yummy CSA goodness:

Now, back to my regular recap of the box....

CSA Week 26:

In the box: 1 celery, 1 bunch beets, 2 leeks, 1/2 pound Jimmy Nardelo peppers, 1 bunch kale, 2 Delicata squash, 1 1/2 pounds baby sweet potatoes, 2 pounds Butterball potatoes, 2 pounds Braeburn apples

Beets were used last week on the salad. We also roasted those baby sweet potatoes to go with it.

A quick note about beets...I like to chop the greens off the beets right away and store them wrapped in a paper towel in a plastic bag in the fridge. If you leave the greens attached they will wilt very quickly.

I made Bittman's recipe for leek and potato soup using up all the leeks and most of the Butterball potatoes.

The peppers, beet greens, and most of the kale, as I already mentioned, were used last week alongside some delicious elk steak. The sweet red peppers saute really well and made a great side dish just as they are. Now that's it's officially winter and fresh peppers are growing scarce in the store I miss them dearly.

I made Rick Bayless' tortilla soup recipe and I threw in a bunch of leftover shredded turkey from Thanksgiving and a handful of thinly sliced kale. Traditional? No way. Tasty? Mmmmmm yes.

If you want an excellent go-to dish for winter squash, look no further than Bittman's Braised and Glazed Butternut Squash recipe. We used Delicata squash. So amazing and will go with lots of different main courses. We baked up a couple of Cousin Jack's Pastys to go with it this time. 

I have a funny story about the remaining Butterball potatoes. Ever since I got the Julia Child cooking show DVDs last Christmas I've been wanting to make a recipe from her "Potato Show". Well, I finally got around to putting in on the menu. It's supposed to be a quiche-type dish, but without a crust: layers of sliced boiled potatoes, caramelized onions, sliced kielbasa sausage, with an egg/milk mixture poured over everything. Then it's topped with a few pats of butter and shredded cheese and baked until bubbly and brown on top. So, guess what crucial ingredient I accidentally left out? EGGS! You know, the thing that would have bound it all together and made it, um, a quiche?? Yeah, totally skipped that part, and I didn't notice until I took it out of the oven and tried to cut into it. But as Julia Child says, when something like that happens, "you haven't lost anything". Instead, what we had was a delicious, creamy, baked potato, sausage and onion soup. So there.

Harvest Baked Apples
adapted from Cuisine At Home - October 2007, Issue 65
makes 4 apples

4 Braeburn or Gala apples

For the filling: 
Chopped apple flesh (from the above apples)
1/3 cup dried currants (dried raisins or cranberries would work too)
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lemon (emergency substitute: a couple tablespoons white vinegar)
Salt to taste
1/2 cup apple cider, divided (apple juice, no sugar added, works too)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 cubes

For the topping:
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cold, cubed
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Salt to taste

Optional additional topping:
1/4 cup plain yogurt, divided

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lighly spray a 9 inch glass pie plate or square baking dish with cooking spray.

Get the apples ready for the filling using a melon baller. Scoop out the core and some of the flesh from each apple, being careful not to get carried away and make a hole in the side or the bottom (I did that on one of mine, but luckily I was able to fit the piece back in so nothing leaked out). You only need each apple to hold about 1/4 cup of filling. Chop the seedless flesh for the filling.

In a medium bowl, combine the chopped apple, currants, almonds, brown sugar, 2 teaspoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, lemon juice, and salt. Stuff the filling into the apples and place them in the prepared baking dish. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the cider into each cavity. Top each apple with a cube of butter. Add the remaining cider and butter cubes to the baking dish.

In a small bowl, use your clean fingers to combine the oats, 2 tablespoons flour, sugar, 1 tablespoon butter, water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, almond extract, and salt to taste. Mix until crumbly. Top each apple with a generous tablespoon of the mixture onto each apple, pressing down to it stays put.

Bake the apples for 35-45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a knife but not mushy (I thought mine were easily pierced at 35 minutes, but it was not as done in the middle as it could have been, so I would err on the latter end of the baking time if I were you).

Let apple cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before eating.

To serve, top with yogurt, if using, and drizzle with the pan juices. 


  1. 26 weeks of csa! wow...that's really something! I am jealous that you can still get those beet greens at this time. Baked apple looks so Christmas-y and tasty!

  2. Thanks Angie! To be fair, week 26 of the CSA was actually a couple of weeks takes me a while to put together these posts, since I usually try to wait until I've actually consumed all the food! So, I'm not sure I could still get those lovely beet greens now, in December.

  3. LOVE the picture of all the CSA tubs!! It was so fun to read all about your cookings. It definitely keeps me thinking!!

  4. Your post and photos make me really miss our CSA we did last year. I shopped at the farmers market a lot this summer & fall, but it wasn't quite the same. Maybe next year...

    That baked apple sounds delicious!

  5. The CSA collage kicks ass, I think you should send it to Denison for sure.


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