Cooking With Heirloom Apples

Cooking With Heirloom Apples

Part of Ep. 702 The Heirloom Garden Pt. 2

Visit with E'Toile Restaurant's Odessa Piper as she cooks with three favorite heirloom apples: Golden Russet, Pink Pearl and Cox Orange Pippin.

Premiere date: May 01, 1999

TRANSCRIPT+
Wisc Gardener Transcript: 

Shelley:
Each heirloom apple has its own story and its own distinct use. I'm here with Odessa Piper, chef proprietor of L'Etoile restaurant in Madison. And we're in the demonstration kitchen of Classic Kitchens and Cabinets in Middleton. Odessa, welcome and thank you for joining me. Can we start out by talking about some of your favorite heirloom apples for cooking?

Odessa:
You bet. I brought three. I brought the Golden Russet, the Pink Pearl and my all-time favorite, the Cox Orange Pippin.

Shelley:
Now, why is that a favorite for cooking?

Odessa:
It's very high-acidity, it's sweet, firm and tart and a lovely baker.

Shelley:
Okay. Well we're going to be making baked pastry apple today and we're going to need six of these. And let's run through the other ingredients. We'll need half a cup of cider, a half a cup of hickory nuts...

Odessa:
Yes. And on the hickory nuts, pull out 18 of the pretty whole halves to use for garnishing. Take the remainder and chop them very fine and add them to two tablespoons of granulated sugar.

Shelley:
Okay, you've got that done. Then we'll also need six fillo leaves, with some extras in case we make a mistake. And then eight tablespoons of butter, melted. All right, where do we go from here?

Odessa:
All right. We're going to want to keep one end of the apple intact to hold all the butter and juices, so I'm going to take out the stem with a tweezers. It works perfectly for that. And then, I use a tool called a tomato shark but it is the best apple corer I know. I go in on the bud end and just remove as much of the apple as will get out the little star that's hidden in the center. If you don't have a tomato shark, a melon baller also works well. Then, because this heirloom variety has a particularly thick skin-- which I really enjoy, it's full of flavor, and so I include it in the recipe-- but I am going to prick the skin all over with a little pushpin tack and this will allow the apple to bake evenly and souffle when it's ready.

Shelley:
Okay, so there it's prepared. And we need six of these, then.

Odessa:
Now, to help the dense and firm texture of this apple variety, I'm going to fill the cavity with some cider. And then I'm going to let the rest of it splash down onto the base of the tin, and that will keep the apples moist while they're baking. We're going to bake them at 375 degrees covered. They'll probably take about 40 minutes, but we'll check them at 30 minutes to see how they're doing.

Shelley:
Okay, let's put them in the oven. Okay, we've baked the apples and now they're cooling. Let's move onto the next step while they're cooling down.

Odessa:
I take the fillo dough out and put it inside a plastic bag to keep it moist while I'm working with it.

Place one square on top of the other with the points going catty- corner, so I've got an eight-pointed star. Then, I'm going to set the apple right in the center.

Shelley:
Now that apple looks like it exploded.

Odessa:
Yes, yes, yes! That's all part of the grand plan because the apple does need to have a jelly-like consistency before we take it out of the oven, so that it will be fork-tender in the final result. And when we make the pastry on it, it will still look beautiful.

Shelley:
We won't see it.

Odessa:
Absolutely bake the apples until they explode. That's what you want, because you can always patch them back together.

Shelley:
All right.

Odessa:
Then, with the leftover sugar and nut and cider mixture, I'm just going to put a little bit into the center. And I have this wonderful cider elixir that the apples baked in. And I sure don't want to lose that. So, I'm going to distribute that into the center of the apples. Now, this fillo pastry can get a little bit dried out as it sits. So, a very handy tip is to use very warm butter to baste your fingers with the butter and to cover that outside of the star as you wrap and draw the pastry up around the apple.

Shelley:
It keeps it moist as you're working with it.

Odessa:
And this is my favorite part. Just kind of get your hands all buttery and bring that pastry up, working it and holding it with your fingers, until you get up to the neck of the apple. Then give it a nice, tight little pinch and then flange the corners back out for a nice jaunty effect.

Shelley:
Now from here, they go back into the oven.

Odessa:
Yes, they do. We'll bake them off at 325 degrees so they don't get too browned. That will take about 12-15 minutes. At this point, if you wanted to prepare ahead, you could bring them to this point, cover them and refrigerate them until you're ready to bake them. But remember to bring the apples back out and bring them up to room temperature before you put them in the oven, so it will be warm on the inside.

Shelley:
Okay, let's take a look at the finished product.

Odessa:
All right.

Shelley:
Wow, here we have the finished product baked pastry apple. This is beautiful, Odessa.

Odessa:
Thanks.

Shelley:
What did you do to garnish it, to finish it off?

Odessa:
Well, just a little finish of some really nice whipped cream and some of the toasted hickory nuts, a little flowering fennel and mint and confectionery sugar. Eat it while it's warm.

Shelley:
This is a great way to use heirloom apples. Odessa Piper of L'Etoile restaurant in Madison.

Odessa:
Okay!

Shelley:
My favorite part! Mmm, that is good!

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