Travel Log — Autumn in Maine

I’m back in Maine again…this time to experience the technicolor splendor that is Fall, in what has become my “happy place.”  Summer in Maine is all about sunshine, ice cream, big fat juicy berries, crisp pink rhubarb, warm days kayaking on the lake, and bbq.  During the fall peak, however, Maine is a spectacular feast for the eyes, the lush greenery of summer briefly transformed into a vibrant kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, yellows, greens, browns and plums.

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Having spent most of my life in California, where the change in seasons seems a mere suggestion by comparison, my time in Maine has been a glorious sensory overload.  It’s not that there aren’t opportunities to experience the wonders of fall in the Bay Area–like driving up to wine country for the first crush or visiting a pumpkin patch in Half Moon Bay.  But when you wake up to this intoxicating scenery every morning, the instinct to head to the nearest orchard to go apple and pumpkin picking seems almost a moral imperative!

Rocky Ridge Orchard
Rocky Ridge Orchard
Already harvested cortlands
Already harvested cortlands
Heading to the back orchard...
Heading to the back orchard…
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Cortlands ripe for the picking
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Apple pickers
Photofinish pumpkins
 Picture Perfect Pumpkins

Fortunately, I’m staying with friends who are granting me all-kitchen access, so I can indulge my culinary whimsy…because you gotta cook what you’ve picked…otherwise you’d sitting on a pile of apples and pumpkins!

Not one to pass up an opportunity to mix a little business with pleasure, I came up with a kind of “deconstructed” apple crisp, topped with an apple cider zabaglione.  I dusted the surface with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar then used my handy dandy blowtorch to caramelize it to crispy perfection.

Brown Butter Spiced Apple Crisp with Cider Zabaglione

Serves 4

Apples:

  • 5-6 Medium Tart Apples (Cortland, Granny Smith, Pink Lady), peeled, quartered & sliced
  • 4 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/3 cup Light Brown Sugar
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • ¼ Vanilla Bean, split & scraped
  • ¾ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1 tsp. Cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 3 Tbsp. Hard Apple Cider

In a large sauté pan on medium heat, cook the butter until it turns a nutty dark golden brown. Add the sliced apple, brown sugar, salt, vanilla bean, cinnamon, and ginger, and sauté until the apples begin to get tender. Dissolve the cornstarch in the lemon juice and cider, then stir into the apple mixture. Continue simmering until the apples are tender. Remove from the heat and discard the vanilla pod.

Oat Streusel Topping:

  • 1 cup All-Purpose Flour
  • ¾ cup Rolled Oats
  • ½ cup Light Brown Sugar
  • ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
  • ½ tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsp. Butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

Combine all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Drizzle in the melted butter, then working with your hands, rub the ingredients together to form a coarse crumble topping.  Spread out the crumble in a single layer on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 12-15 mins. or until the streusel is a golden brown.

Deconstructed Apple Crisp
Deconstructed Apple Crisp

Cider Zabaglione:

  • 5 Large Egg Yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. Honey
  • ¼ cup Hard Apple Cider
  • ¼ cup Apple Cider
  • pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream, whipped to medium soft peaks

In a heatproof bowl, whisk together the yolks, honey, ciders, and salt. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and whisk continuously until the mixture is very pale and thick (should register 160 degrees).  Remove the bowl from the heat and chill the mixture over a bowl of ice.  Fold the whipped cream into the chilled zabaglione.

Assembly:

Divide the sautéed apples between four plates, then scatter a generous amount of oat streusel topping on each one.   Ladle about ½ cup zabaglione over the apple crisp. Sprinkle the surface of the zabaglione with a teaspoon of raw or turbinado sugar and caramelize with the blowtorch on medium flame.

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More delicious recipes to come…

Author: Puddingyrl

I'm a pastry chef (geek) whose appetite invariably exceeds the actual size of my stomach. Skinny jeans be damned! My innate curiosity usually leads to full-blown obsessions--culinary and otherwise--which is why you'll find me sticking my finger in the proverbial pudding...if not licking the whole damn bowl. Given my varied interests, I figured blogging is a good way for me to explore those ideas that are always nibbling at my brain. Along for the ride are two of my girlfriends who share some of my obsessions and have no problems diving headlong into that bowl of pudding. After all, it's more fun to share the calories!

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