While it doesn't necessarily look like apple season outside, it is already upon us. Early September is apparently the best time for picking apples and upstate New York is full of Pick-Your-Own spots. According to a recent New York Times article, this year's weather has helped produce juicy, sweet apples, "almost like a good wine" but because of immigration crack-downs and the steep fines for hiring illegal immigrants, there are not enough workers at the orchards to get these apples to markets.
The web is filled with information on various orchards throughout the state, and the Hudson Valley Network has a nice foliage guide that's worth a look through. There is also an official U.S. Apple Association that has a ton of information on all things apple, including medical studies, Food Network specials, and festivals.
The Library has plenty of cookbooks related to apple cooking, but there are also wonderful recipes in general cookbooks, such as Suzanne Goin's Sunday Suppers at Lucques or The New York Times Cookbook.
This autumn I do have my eye on one particular apple recipe. It's a macaroni and cheese with apples, very similar to the Swiss Alpler Magrone. I might as well have the recipe stuck to my fridge with a big red circle around it as I wait for the temperature outside to dip below 65 degrees. I saw it listed on the menu at Moto, a slick, tasty restaurant in Williamsburg. But that was back in hot, early August and I just couldn't get myself to order it. Hopefully it's a dish worth waiting for.
Swiss Macaroni and Melted Gruyere and Apple Compote
(adapted from Christopher Idone's Apples: A Country Kitchen Cookbook)
5 firm, sweet apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tbsp + 1/2 tsp sugar
6 tbsp butter (unsalted)
1 tbsp oil
4-5 medium onions, sliced thin
1 lb elbow macaroni
10-11 oz. Gruyere, grated
5 tbsp chives, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
Saute apples, lemon, and sugar over low heat until apples are soft. Set aside and keep warm. In skillet put 3 tbsp butter, and oil over medium-high heat. Saute onions until golden brown and crisp. Meanwhile, prepare macaroni per package instructions. Drain macaroni and toss with remaining butter and cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve macaroni with onions and chives on top and apple compote on the side.