Available year-round, apples are a great way to add a hint of tartness and cut through rich and hearty dishes, and they pair perfectly with fall spices like nutmeg and cinnamon. Opt for varieties like Fiji, Gala, Pink Lady, or, my personal favourite, the Honeycrisp, which lends particularly well to cooking and is just an all-around tasty snack.
The addition of tart cranberries gives the sauce a grapefruit pink-hue and that extra zing that goes great with grilled pork chops and roasted turkey, or even in a sandwich. Since it’s essentially a fruit puree, you can make extra batches and freeze them in popsicle molds for a festive frozen dessert. It’s cranberry and applesauce rolled into one!
3 cups peeled, cored, and roughly chopped apples
2/3 cup apple cider
1/2 cup frozen cranberries
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
In a saucepan combine all the ingredients. Cover. Simmer over medium heat for 25 minutes until the apples and cranberries become soft. Mash with a fork or roughly pulse in a blender. Makes 1 1/2 cups of sauce.
Apple-Stuffed French toast
Because going out to weekend brunch is becoming more and more of a challenge as it gets colder, have this recipe handy for cold days when you want a restaurant-worthy meal. For a variation, use bananas and pears, or a mix of both.
4 slices of thick bread like challah, brioche, or plain white sandwich bread
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced into rounds
1 tsp ground cinnamon (1/2 teaspoon per French toast)
4 pats unsalted butter
Powdered sugar and maple syrup for garnish
1. Melt two pats of butter in a pan over medium heat. Fry the apples until they become soft and begin to brown and slightly crisp up. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Dredge the bread slices in the egg. Place one slice on the hot pan then place the cooked apple slices on top of the bread. Place other bread slice on top, sandwiching the apples.
3. Continue cooking until the bread begins to turn a golden brown. Flip and cook until both sides are done.
4. Slice the toast diagonally. Drizzle with maple syrup and dust with powdered sugar on top. Makes 2 servings.
Apple-Tuna Salad Croissants
Shout out to my junior high Home Economics teacher Mrs. McClusker for teaching me to add apples to tuna salad. It gives the tuna a pleasant crunch and mellows out its fishy taste, making it less of a olfactory hazard to eat at the workplace. I further sweetened the tuna with the addition of apple cider and torn kale leaves that have been tossed in balsamic, giving it a nice tart flavour so that you don’t have to drown the fish in mayo.
2 croissants, sliced horizontally
1 can tuna, drained
1/2 medium-sized apple, cut into small matchsticks
2 kale leaves, stems removed and torn into small pieces
1 Tbsp apple cider
2 tsp mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a bowl, combine tuna, mayonnaise, apples, and apple cider. Mix gently with a spoon, careful not to mush the apples.
2. In a separate bowl, add a small splash of balsamic vinegar (you need less than what you think you need). Massage the kale with your hands for a few minutes and squeeze out any excess liquid. Set aside.
3. Lightly toast the croissant halves until warm. Fill with kale and tuna salad. Serve immediately. Makes 2 croissants.
Baked Cinnamon Apples
While there will never be a substitute for a homemade apple pie, baked apples offer that same taste without having to roll out the dough. It’s also a healthier option — unless you place a giant scoop of vanilla ice cream beside it. No judgment.
4 medium apples
2 tsp cinnamon (1/2 tsp per apple)
2 pats butter (1/2 pat per apple)
1 tsp nutmeg (1/4 tsp per apple)
2 tsp brown sugar (1/2 tsp per apple)
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Using a melon baller or a metal measuring spoon, scoop out the core of the apples from the stem end.
3. Fill the holes at the top of the apples with a bit of butter, a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
4. Place apples in an oven-safe dish. Carefully pour water into the dish, just enough to cover the bottom. Bake for 30 minutes until the apples soften and brown on the edges. Remove from the pan and serve immediately. Serves four.
Karon Liu is a freelance food writer based in Toronto who is slightly lactose intolerant but will otherwise eat and cook anything.