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Jude's Kitchen: Apple lovelies
Feruary is Apple Month, and it’s a promotional campaign that has a lengthy history, as well as being close to the heart of everyone living in the Okanagan—apples being just about our nearest and dearest fresh fruit.
It began in 1960, to celebrate and to promote the fresh local fruit available at a time of year when most local fruit is only an option frozen, dried or canned.
Local varieties of apples that you should be able to find in produce stores and sections include the Ambrosia, Fuji, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Red Delicious, Royal Gala and Spartan. Look for the green leaf sticker that’s the symbol of B.C. Tree Fruits, the marketing agency for the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative.
It was 75 years ago that a group of dedicated farmers came together to form the co-operative that now represents 700 producers in the Okanagan Valley.
It’s no accident that this is also the beginning of Heart Month, and apples are a good choice for heart-healthy eating, with their high fibre content, phytonutrients and antioxidants.
That heart is also a symbol that marks St. Valentine’s Day, a red-letter day in the February calendar.
To mark Apple Month, B.C. Tree Fruits is launching a nationwide contest called The Artful Apple. Decorate your favourite apple and then upload the works of art to share so the public can vote for a favourite. For details, go to: www.artfulapple.ca
For more ways to enjoy the humble apple, browse through my new food book, Jude’s Kitchen, available wherever books are sold. You’ll find hundreds of recipes for every time of day and year, organized by the seasons, so you’re being inspired by what’s fresh and in season throughout the year.
Apple Caesar Salad
From the kitchen of B.C. Tree Fruit's Darcel Markgraf, this new twist on the traditional Caesar salad is a must-try for salad lovers and apple lovers alike.
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 c. (125 ml) pecans
1 head romaine lettuce
1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar
1/2 c. (125 ml) oil
1-2 tsp. (5-10 ml) mayonnaise
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. (125 ml) dried cranberries
1/4-1/2 c. (60-125 ml) parmesan cheese
Squeeze the juice from one lemon and strain out the pips. Mince or grate the garlic into the lemon juice and let stand for about 10 minutes. This tempers the garlic so that it won’t overpower the salad.
Place the pecans (you may substitute walnuts, pine nuts or almonds) on a baking sheet, put it in a cold oven and heat to 350 F. When the oven reaches temperature the nuts are usually toasted. So watch that they don’t get too brown. Then remove the nuts to cool.
Clean and tear the romaine into bite-size pieces into a large salad bowl.
Mix the brown sugar, oil, mayonnaise, salt and pepper into the garlic/lemon juice. Blend well. (The mayo will keep the oil and liquid from separating, but it is optional if you prefer a lighter salad.)
Core the apples and slice into bite-size wedges. Soak them in the juice from the second lemon so that they will not turn brown. Arrange the slices on the outside edge of the salad bowl.
Just before serving, drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss. Top with toasted nuts, dried cranberries and grated parmesan cheese.
These are moist and full of flavour. They are a terrific match with a slice of old cheddar, for breakfast, brunch, lunch or a snack. This is an evolution of my former apple muffin recipe. I’ve reduced the sugar, eggs and margarine in this version and added a taste of cornmeal, because it’s delicious with apple. I made a batch of tiny, bite-sized muffins as well, because they’re fun and perfect for snacking.
3/4 c. (175 ml) flour
1/4 c. (60 ml) whole wheat flour
1/4 c. (60 ml) oat bran
1/4 c. (60 ml) cornmeal
1/4 c. (60 ml) brown sugar
2 tsp. (10 ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
1/2 tsp. (2 ml) cinnamon
1/4 c. (60 ml) milk or orange juice
1/4 c. (60 ml) oil
2 grated apples, cored but unpeeled
1 tbsp. (15 ml) brown sugar
1 tsp. (5 ml) cinnamon
Pre-heat the oven to 375 F. Lightly spray 12 muffin cups with oil.
Combine dry ingredients with a whisk in a medium-sized bowl.
In a smaller bowl, whisk the egg, milk and oil together until well combined, then add the cored, grated apples and mix.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and with a few strokes of the spoon, combine them well.
Divide the batter amongst the muffin cups and sprinkle a little topping on each.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.