Sautéed Apples- Sweet & Savory
Growing up, I was lucky to have known my great-grandfather. Andrzej Sroczynski was a stern hard-working Polish immigrant who established a solid business selling produce in Fall River MA. In the beginning he sold his produce off a long horse-pulled wagon. My grandmother Julia, the eldest of eight children, helped deliver the goods. Ultimately, in 1916, modern convenience took over, and my great-grandfather opened three brick-and-mortar stores that were run by my grandmother’s brothers. What’s amazing in this time of supermarkets and a general decline of neighborhood markets, Andrew’s Fruit Store in Fall River, now owned by my cousins, is still going strong. Before dawn each day they head up to the Boston Markets to select the fresh produce for the day.
As a young child, I have vivid memories of my grandmother (“Baci”) bringing me in to buy fruit at the store. Obviously, we were a great fruit-loving family. My grandmother was extremely frugal and so her purchases often consisted of produce that others might not select, apples that had a spot or two (which we commonly called “drops”) or loose grapes that had decided to flee the rest of the bunch. At the checkout register, my cousins would always give my grandmother a great deal, charging her pennies on the dollar for what she bought.
This taught me a lot about the value of our choices when it comes to buying food, and it also taught me to not waste fruits and veggies, even when they are not perfect. Consider taste and value over visually perfect but expensive produce.
I started thinking about my grandmother recently because a friend brought over two crates of apples – yes, they were drops – delicious, but mostly odd shaped fruit. So I’ve been on quite a roll making apple sauce, apple tarts, apple-everything. Chances are if I invite you over for dinner we’ll have apple something-or-other.
Many folks don’t realize that apples can be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Warm sautéed apples are a delicious topping for plain yogurt, granola, French toast, waffles or ice cream. Put a savory twist on those apples by making an apple “mostarda” and you have the perfect accompaniment for a cheese platter or roasted meat. So don’t toss out the drops – cut around the spots and make something delicious.
¼ cup butter
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into wedges
2 teabags Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spiced Tea
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Make a cup of strong tea. Note: In this recipe I use two teabags of Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spiced Tea, which has a strong cinnamon flavor reminiscent of the old-fashioned candy known as “Red Hots.” If you don’t have any of the tea, you may substitute your favorite mulling spices.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apple slices and cook, stirring constantly until the apples are almost tender, about 5 minutes.
Dissolve the cornstarch and brown sugar in the tea and add to the skillet. Simmer for about 2 minutes until hot and thickened. Serve warm.
If you’d like, add some ground cardamom, grated ginger, raisins, dried cranberries, grated lemon peel or your favorite nuts!
In addition to the ingredients noted above, you will also need:
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Using the same method as above, melt the butter then sauté ¼ cup chopped onion in a large saucepan until soft, add the apples and continue cooking for about 5 minutes. If the onion starts to brown, sprinkle in a little water.
To the cup of strong tea, mix together 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Add to the apples and simmer for about 2 minutes until hot and thickened. If you want the mostarda to be spicy you may add a scant 1/8 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper.