My favorite fall memory – and the fall event I look forward to every year – is my annual apple picking trip. There is something magical that happens each fall, when the air is crisp and chilly. It’s the time for harvest, farmers markets are abundant with bounty. The colors are brilliant reds and yellows and oranges and golds. Smell of wood smoke wafts through the streets because people start using their fireplaces again. But nothing really takes me back to my childhood like the first bite of a just picked apple in the orchard.
I am a huge fan of apples. Apple a day, right? But it isn’t just because they are healthy. I love the snap of the skin, the burst of juice, the fresh autumnal smell. Every bit of sunshine, every hot day, every raindrop of the summer are concentrated in that first bite, taken standing right next to the tree that yielded it. Each apple is a small miracle, a harbinger of fall. That one singular bite can transport me not only to my favorite time of year but to some of my favorite recipes, to my grandmother’s kitchen, to comfort. Take a deep breath and the smell of fallen leaves, of warm cinnamon and home for the holidays awakens the senses.
It isn’t surprising that I love cooking with apples. I love them in both savory and sweet applications. They add pizazz to slaws and salads. I bake them into pies and tarts, cook them up with pork or stuff them into a goose. They are even great pickled!
But by far, my favorite fall memory is that of a simple baked apple, a popular Russian dessert that signals fall (number 8 on this list). Try this simple recipe, a Gourmet Rambler favorite. Happy fall!