Good Apples

Apples mix up great meals from dinner (Pork Fajitas with Apple-Cilantro Salsa) to dessert (Apple-Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart)—plus see local harvest updates by variety
Apple cheesecake
Apple-Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce

U.S Apple Association

The fruit that is at the core of sayings about health and love, as well as the inspiration for the theory of gravity, is also inspiring in the kitchen. Whether you prefer sweet and tender or crisp and tart, apples are deliciously healthy on their own and equally at home in both savory dishes and sweet desserts. Apples add a fresh sweet/tart flavor with the savory meat and spices in the Pork Fajitas with Apple-Cilantro Salsa recipe here. And a dressed-to-impress dessert of an Apple-Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart takes the fruit to a higher level in the following recipe, both courtesy of the U.S. Apple Association.

When choosing your fruit for snacking or cooking, there are always various apple varieties to choose from at the grocery store year-round, but now locally grown apples are ripe for the picking, too. Many are available in stores, and you can make a day of it with a fun outing to an apple orchard.

If you are hoping to find your favorite variety ready for harvesting, you may find the timing a little different than previous years. With the cool, wet spring we had, the apple harvest is about a week to 10 days later than usual, says John Jacobson with the Minnesota Apple Growers Association and Pine Tree Apple Orchard. (Don’t worry—Jacobson also says that August’s cool nights and warm days made for great ripening.) As you plan your apple orchard outing, keep in mind Jacobson’s updated harvest estimates below. If you don’t see the variety on the list, it has already reached its harvest date. When in doubt, call ahead to see what’s ripe for the picking.

Local Apple Harvest Updated Estimates

• Sweet Sixteen: September 21
• Cortland: September 21
• Honeycrisp: September 28
• Haralson: September 28
• Honeygold: October 1
• Red Fireside: October 10
• Regent: October 12
• Keepsake: October 12

Tip: If you refrigerate apples as soon as you bring them home, it will slow ripening and maintain flavor so they can keep from four to six weeks. Then you will be sure to have them on hand for a great variety of recipes.

 

Pork fajita with apple salsa
Pork Fajitas with Apple-Cilantro Salsa

U.S. Apple Association

Pork Fajitas with Apple-Cilantro Salsa

Makes 4 servings

Apple Salsa (makes 2½ cups)
3 unpeeled apples, cored and diced
½ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ ripe avocado, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons sliced green onion, including top
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced jalapeño pepper
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

Fajita Marinade
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
6 large cloves garlic, finely minced
3 teaspoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

Pork Wrap
1 pound pork tenderloin or lean pork roast
Fajita marinade (above)
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas

  1. For the Apple Salsa: In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 4 hours to meld flavors.
  2. For the Fajita Marinade: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
  3. Place pork in large sealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Cover and refrigerate 1½ hours or more, turning occasionally.
  4. Preheat grill. Drain marinated pork, saving excess marinade. Place pork on grill and brush with leftover marinade (discard any remaining marinade). Grill over hot coals (or medium heat for gas grill), turning frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, until internal temperature reaches 155-160°F. Remove from heat and place on a clean plate. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. Wrap tortillas tightly in foil and heat on upper grill rack for 10 minutes.
  6. Cut pork diagonally across grain into thin slices. Arrange one-eighth of pork slices and 2 or 3 tablespoons salsa in center of tortilla. Fold bottom half of tortilla over filling and overlap sides on top. Arrange on serving plate.

 

Apple-Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart

Makes 10 servings

For the Crust
2/3 cup whole hazelnuts, unpeeled
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

For the Filling
1 package (8-ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large tender-sweet apple, such as Fuji or Gala, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts until they have the texture of coarse sand. Add the butter, sugar, flour, and salt, and pulse again until the mixture comes together and forms a dough.
  2. Gather the dough into a ball, then press into the bottom and sides of a 10- or 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Set oven rack to the lower position and preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. Rinse out the bowl of the food processor, set it back on the base, and add the cream cheese, sugar, cream, egg, vanilla, and salt. Process until evenly mixed, about 1 minute.
  5. When the crust is chilled, set the tart pan on a baking sheet and pour the cheese mixture into the shell. Arrange the apple slices around the tart, pressing them lightly into the filling. Transfer to the oven and bake until the filling is set and the crust is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below).

Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 2 cups

¾ cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon kosher salt

  1. Pour water into a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and set over high heat. Add sugar in a mound in the center of the pot.
  2. Cover the pot and cook until sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the mixture turns pale amber, 12 to 15 minutes. Do not swirl or stir during this time.
  3. Remove lid and watch the caramel closely. When it turns a darker amber color, remove it from the heat and carefully add heavy cream—there will be a burst of steam, so be careful.
  4. Add kosher salt and stir. Serve warm.

 

Nutrition info (per serving)
• Pork Fajitas with Salsa: Calories 690 (230 From Fat); Fat 25g (Sat. 5g); Chol 105mg; Sodium 960mg; Carb 73g; Fiber 8g; Protein 44g

• Cheesecake Tart with Sauce: Calories 481 (237 From Fat); Fat 27g (Sat. 14g); Chol 85mg; Sodium 305mg; Carb 57g; Fiber 2g; Protein 6g

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Mary Subialka
Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her school-age son, who used to eat beets and Indian food, will one day again think of real food as more than a means to a treat—and later share this with his younger brother.