Crisp mornings and the recent Okanagan sunshine were perfect for picking our local crops of apples and pears and by now most of us have experienced the fresh taste of these newly picked fruits.
Apples, pears and cranberries make a wonderful combination in so many recipes for fall.
The salad recipe below, though very simple to put together, offers an exceptional combination of sweet and tart flavours and is perfect for any company or family dinner as a starter or to accompany a pork or chicken entrée.
A perfect fall dessert is a crumble. By mixing a variety of apples and pears, the taste becomes wonderfully complex and gourmet in quality. Everyone will love this one. Remember to buy locally from our fruit stands or from the farmers’ markets in our area, as there is still much fruit dumped here from our neighbours south of the border.
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 ripe pear, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup walnuts
4 ounces firm blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Place the walnuts on a cookie sheet and toast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 3 to 5 minutes. Remove, let cool, and roughly chop.
In a large bowl, toss together all the ingredients. Serve plain, but much better on a bed of romaine lettuce or mixed greens.
Note: I, unfortunately, have yet to acquire a taste for the blue cheese and so substitute half Swiss and half cheddar cheese.
and Pear Crumble
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2-3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds mixed firm local, tart-tasting apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 pounds ripe Bartlett and Anjou pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch chunks
1/2 cup dried cranberries (can use fresh cranberries that have been rinsed, drained and picked over)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and place rack in the centre of the oven.
Butter or spray with a nonstick cooking spray, a 2 1/2 quart casserole or oval gratin dish, or a 10 inch deep dish pie plate.
For Crumble Topping:
Place all the topping ingredients (flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, oats, nuts and butter) in a food processor and process just until the mixture has clumps the size of peas. (This can also be done in a large bowl with a pastry blender.)
In a large bowl combine the sugar and cornstarch. Peel, core and slice the apples and pears and toss them, along with the cranberries, in the sugar mixture.
Once thoroughly combined, transfer to the prepared baking dish. Spread the topping evenly over the fruit.
Bake for approximately 35 – 45 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown and crisp.
Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Refrigerate leftovers and reheat before serving. Makes about 6 servings.
Cathi Litzenberger is The Morning Star’s food columnist.