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Archive for October, 2011

Asian Pear

Asian pears also go by many names including apple pear and nashi in Japan.  The Japanese love to give Asian pears as gifts to friends and co-workers in beautifully packaged boxes.  They are firm to the touch, can grow quite large in size and are juicy and yellowish green or brown russet in color like a pear and crisp and round like an apple.  They grow well in hot climates and should be allowed to ripen on the tree unlike most pears. Harvest is usually mid-September and Asian Pears will keep in cold storage for up to 3 months.   They have a high water content so they are best eaten out of hand or sliced in a salad. Try an Asian Pear Slaw with Chilies


Asian Pear Slaw with Chilies

6 servings

Each serving equals 1/2 cup of fruit or vegetables
Source: Chris Faulkner for Melissa’s Variety Produce, Inc.


6 celery ribs
4 Tbsp fresh lime juice
4 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp ginger root
6 Asian Pears, sliced ¼-inch thick
3 scallions, thinly sliced on diagonal
¼ cup Cilantro leaves
½ tsp Fresno chili or Jalapeno chili, finely chopped

Whisk together juice, vinegar, and ginger and stir in celery and remaining
ingredients with salt and pepper to taste. Let stand at room temperature 15
minutes before serving.

Yellow Newtown Pippin

The Yellow Newtown Pippin is one of the oldest American apple varieties from the 1750’s.  It has a yellow-green skin with a crisp, slightly tart flavor but sweeter than a Granny Smith and is one of the most widely commercially used apples for cider.  They are a good keeper and the flavor becomes sweeter and more mellow a month to two months after it has been harvested. It holds its shape so well that it is one of the best apples for baking.  I recently made an apple pie for my best friend’s birthday and the first bite was tart followed by a sweetness which spread through my mouth like happiness. Even her 3 year old son loved the pie. His face scrunched up when the tartness hit him but then bloomed into a smile with the sweetness that followed. Look for them now in stores through late January to early February.

Earl visits Cuyama Orchards

Earl recently visited Cuyama Orchards and growers Howard and Jean Albano and their son Byron who are in charge of all growing, picking, packing and marketing of their 265 organic certified acres.  The Albano family has been growing apples for the past 25 years in the remote mountainous area of Cuyama, surrounded by the Los Padres National forest in Santa Barbara County.  As Earl traveled from Ojai to Cuyama along country highways 33 to 166 there was open farmland as far as the eye could see and not much else.

Cuyama is located at an elevation of 3200 feet which brings warm days and cool nights for the dormant/chill hours apples need.  In addition the abundant native water supply and rich mineral soil produce quality harvest organic apples.

Cuyama grows a variety of apples including Gala, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Newtown Pippin, Crimson Gold, Arkansas Black, Pink Lady and the most popular Early and Standard Fuji which is a cross between the American apples, Red Delicious and Ralls Janet.  The Early Fuji is available from the end of September to the end of October.  The Standard Fuji’s are available starting the end of October through at least March and possibly longer depending on the harvest.  Most apples grown are hybrids with a focus on size and color unlike the Standard Fuji from Cuyama which focuses instead on developing the most flavorful apple.  They use wood from their own orchards to propagate one of the best Standard Fuji apples on the market.  Earl feels that the California Fuji is lighter in color compared to the Northwest Fuji’s because the difference in climate means more chill hours which brings a darker color to the Fuji apple.

Earl, Jean, Howard, Byron and their field manager walked both the new and older portions of the orchards.  On the newer portion the trees are being trained to grow flat against a trellis in the French espalier style which takes up minimal space.  As they walked through the orchards Earl had a chance to taste one of the new apples Cuyama is experimenting with, the old English Ashmead Kernel Heirloom discovered in the 1700’s.  This apple grows to medium sized with an aromatic golden brown skin and a crisp, sweet and nutty snap.

Earl and the Albano’s ended a fruitful day with lunch at The Place.  Look for Cuyama apples at your favorite grocery store.  Apples are great out of hand, sauté them with butter and rosemary and serve as a side dish with pork or chicken, add sliced apples to a roast beef and gouda sandwich or bake sliced apples with caramelized onions on puffed pastry.  Sweet and savory apple recipes



Sweet and savory apple recipes

Apple and Cheddar Scones


2 firm tart apples (such as Granny Smith or  Honeycrisp)
1 ½  cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar plus 1 ½ TAB for sprinkling
½ TAB baking powder
½ tsp salt
6 TAB unsalted butter chilled and cut into ½ cubes
½ cup sharp cheddar shredded
¼ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs                                                                   

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Peel and core apples, then cut into small chunks.   Place in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment and bake until dry to the touch about 20 min. Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Beat butter, cheese, cream and one egg together.  Gently mix in the apple chunks. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix until just blended.   Roll out dough on floured counter top into a 6 inch circle.  Cut into 6 wedges. Place on parchment lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. Beat one egg with a pinch of salt and brush on top of scones. Sprinkle scones with the last TAB of sugar. Bake until firm and golden about 30 minutes.


Apple Walnut Upside-Down Cake

Gourmet/ November 1995

3-4 Fuji apples, peeled, cored and quartered
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter (3/4 cup)
2/3 cup sugar
 ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Cake Batter
1 Fuji Apple peeled and chopped
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
 ¾ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
1 stick unsalted butter softened
 2/3 cup sugar
 1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TAB minced peeled fresh ginger
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 375°F.  

Topping– In an oven proof non-stick or cast iron skillet melt butter over low heat. Stir in sugar until combined. Arrange apples cut side up and sprinkle with walnuts evenly between apples. Cook 25-35 min or until apples are tender and sugar is a golden caramel.

Cake Batter- In a bowl whisk flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla, ginger and eggs 1 at a time.  Mix in sour cream and flour mixture until just combined. Fold in apple. Remove skillet from heat and spread batter evenly over filling, leaving ¼ inch border uncovered.  Bake 25-35 minutes until golden brown. Serve with whipped cream.



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