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[Originally posted on my blog briciole as salsa di mele arrosto / roasted applesauce]

roasted applesauce
A little while ago, a friend of mine gave me a case of apples she had harvested from her tree. In the past, I have used apples with other fruit to make preserves and I was planning to follow the same path, but the amount of apples called for additional ideas. From a corner of my memory, the title of a recipe (ricetta) floated to the foreground and since I remembered also where I had seen it, I was able to retrieve it.

The recipe in question is Judy Rodgers' Roasted Applesauce and the two elements that got my attention were: the author and the word "roasted." I have recently featured a recipe from Judy Rodgers' The Zuni Café Cookbook and several times in the past few months I have talked about my experiments with roasted fruit (for example, here and here).

What happened next is a bit strange to explain: I scanned the blog post introducing the dish and missed the link to the actual recipe. So, besides making some changes based on personal preference (more on these below), I used 500 F as baking temperature and kept the baking dish covered throughout. The result was excellent and disappeared rather fast, so I immediately made another batch. It wasn't until I got to batch #3 that I saw the link to the recipe, read it and realized my mistake in the baking process. So, that batch was prepared according to the recipe. However, in a blind test, a sample of batch #2 scored higher than batch #3, so batch #4 was prepared again according to my misreading. You are welcome to make your experiments.

Finally, I made one Savory Apple Charlotte according to the recipe that comes together with that for applesauce and it was a big success. For it, I used some whey bread with butter and honey (recipe from Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf) that would have otherwise been used to make French toast (sorry, no photo of the charlotte).

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Ingredients:

  • 3 lbs. apples (see Note below)
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ultra-fine sugar (zucchero)

Note: When I make preserves with apples, I never peel them, and I followed the same procedure for this applesauce (which makes the preparation time even shorter). Since they are left unpeeled, organic or pesticide-free apples are strongly recommended. In terms of apple varieties, combine what you have available to get a balanced flavor. For example, the apples I received as a gift were a bit tart, so I added a few sweeter ones to each batch.

Preheat the oven to 500 F. Wash well, quarter and core the apples. If an apple is large, cut each quarter in half lengthwise. Distribute in a 3 qt. (9 x 13 inch) pyrex baking dish or similar baking vessel , sprinkle salt and sugar, and stir briefly. Cover with aluminum foil and seal around the edges. Bake until the apples are soft. I baked them for 30 minutes.

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Transfer the apples into a bowl and purée with an immersion blender. At the beginning, pulse and move the blender to start breaking the apples, then reduce them to a fairly smooth purée. Store applesauce in sterilized jars in the fridge.

I tried adding a few drops of cider vinegar (aceto di mele) to a sample of the applesauce, as suggested in the original recipe, but did not like the result.

DSC_0018bw
What this recipe gives you is as healthy an applesauce as you can get. It is naturally sweet, creamy, with an intense apple flavor. It can be used in many different ways. A jar of this applesauce has been on our table at pretty much every meal ever since batch #1 was completed, and we have tried applesauce on anything from simple bread (the one in the photo is pumpkin bread) to bean burgers, to French toast to Rodgers' gnocchi di ricotta.

After tasting the first batch of applesauce, I got a copy of "The Zuni Café Cookbook." I believe that a cookbook with even a single excellent recipe is worth having on the bookshelf. I have so far tried three recipes from this cookbook and they all have been a success, so the book now has its place on my bookshelf.

Hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post by launching the salsa di mele arrosto audio file [mp3].

[Depending on your set-up, the audio file will be played within the browser or by your mp3 player application. Please, contact me if you encounter any problems.]


Copyright briciole: Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial- Share Alike 3.0 License

Views: 135

Tags: apple, homemade, sauce

Comment by Caroline Malcolm on December 15, 2011 at 3:21pm

This sounds delicious! Are you from Italy, Simona? I absolutely love your posts -- what's a culinary Italian holiday tradition you enjoy each year? I experienced the 7 Fishes one Christmas Eve...and I do love Panettone!

Comment by Simona on December 19, 2011 at 1:57am

Hi Caroline. Yes, I grew up in Italy. For dinner on Christmas Eve, I will make spaghetti col tonno, a dish that was part of my family's traditional meal. I will also try to make orange salad, but I need to find the right kind of olives for it. Two years ago, I made torciglione, a dessert traditional of my home town (Perugia). This week, I will make special cookies based on a family recipe. I hope I will have time to write a post about them.
I have only a vague idea of what the 7 Fishes dinner is. I believe it is an Italian-American tradition rooted in the fact that on Christmas Eve we don't eat meat. The specific traditions regarding the menu for the Christmas Eve dinner (and for the Christmas Day main meal) vary by region. Some sweets, like panettone, pandoro, torrone, have become a national tradition and are enjoyed together with local ones.

Comment by Simona on December 19, 2011 at 1:59am

Addendum: I love panettone too. In Milan, where panettone originate and where I lived for ten years, some pastry shops make excellent panettoni which can be bought freshly baked. In my opinion, a slice of good panettone is the best dessert.

Comment by Caroline Malcolm on December 19, 2011 at 12:40pm

The spaghetti sounds delicious - I loved that post. My boyfriend's family is Sicilian (which is why they celebrates the Feast of the Seven Fishes [I'm pretty sure it's regional to S. Italy]). He has shared lots about the art of pasta making, and I'm sure he'll love to try this recipe, too! 

I loved the photos of your torciglione - how interesting! I usually don't like eel, but that sounds delicious!

(We have an intern here at Farm Aid who is interested in studying agriculture in Perugia! Hopefully she will share her stories here on HOMEGROWN!)

Merry Christmas!

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