Simply delicious

Sometimes it’s the simplest foods that taste the best. Good foods — such as locally grown apples — need little adornment.

Lucille Nelson of Windom shares this recipe from her personal file, her favorite apple recipe “because it does not take much time” to put together. Nelson noted that she has made the same recipe using peaches and rhubarb with good results. “You may also wish to add ¼ cup walnuts to the crisp topping,” she added.

Apple Crisp

 Coat an 8- by 8- by 2-inch microwavable dish with cooking spray.

Peel, core and slice 6 tart apples. Spread apples evening in the dish.

In a small food processor, combine ½ cup melted butter or margarine, ¾ cup brown sugar, ¾ cup quick cook oats, ½ cup flour and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Spread mixture evenly over top of apples.

Microwave for 12 minutes. Pierce with fork to test tenderness. Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or whipped topping.

When I have a few spare moments, I continue to peruse “The Minnesota Tables: Recipes for Savoring Local Food Throughout the Year,” written by Shelley N.C. Holl with recipes by B.J. Carpenter. This book is a month-by-month ode to Minnesota grown and created foods. In October, there’s a section devoted to Minnesota apples and the Honeycrisp variety — my favorite — in particular. It details the development of this wonderful fruit and includes this recipe for Poached Apple Supreme, which only requires three ingredients. The instructions specify Pepin Heights Sparking Apple Cider, but since I doubt this is available in our part of the state, I would think another brand of sparkling cider would suffice.

Poached Apples Supreme

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Peel 4 medium to large Honeycrisp apples vertically, leaving stripes of skin for decoration; cut a thin slice from the bottom of each apple so it will sit level.

Place in a deep glass or ceramic baking dish; cover with two 12-ounce bottles sparkling apple cider and bake 40 minutes or until tender, basting occasionally.

While apples are poaching, pour 2 cups extra-heavy whipping cream into a heavy bottomed sauce pan, place over high heat and reduce by half.

Remove apples from poaching liquid, set on a plate and cover loosely with plastic wrap until serving. Pour 2 cups of the poaching liquid into a heavy bottomed saucepan and reduce by two-thirds. Blend reduced cider with reduced cream, return to a heat, bring to a full boil and remove from stove.

Pour sauce into individual shallow serving bowls, place apples on top and serve, passing the remaining sauce.

Simplest may be best — most of the time — but I believe that topping anything with caramel makes it better. Touting their refrigerated pie crusts, the folks at Pillsbury sent this offering, which has even this non-pie lover licking her chops.

Cinnamon Apple Pie with Caramel Pecan Sauce

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Remove 1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box, from pouch; unroll crust on cookie sheet.

In medium bowl, mix ½ cup granulated sugar, 4 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Gently stir in 4 cups thinly sliced, peeled apples (4 medium). Spoon onto center of crust, spreading to within 2 inches of crust. Fold edge of crust over filling, ruffling decoratively. Brush crust edge with 1 teaspoon milk; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown and apples are tender, covering with foil last 10 minutes if necessary to prevent excessive browning.

Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan, melt ¼ cup butter over medium heat. Stir in ½ cup firmly packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; boil gently 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup chopped pecans; boil 2 to 3 minutes or until pecans are lightly toasted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in ¼ cup whipping cream and ½ teaspoon vanilla. Cool 15 minutes. Serve over warm or cool pie.

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