Too much information: I just read that fall begins on Wednesday, September 22 at 11:09 pm. As a baker I admire such exactitude, but I’m sure we will all be forgiven for not counting down the seconds á la New Year’s Eve. Besides, the passage from summer to fall is (in my opinion) a more psychic one than the passage from old year to new. And yes, as I have written ad infinitum, for me, it all comes back to food.
A large maple tree monopolizes the view from my living room. In the summertime its leaves are a perfect — yes — forest green. In a matter of days the leaves will abandon their summer mufti in favor of more ceremonial attire, a final blushing smile before surrendering to the winter chill. The leaves will leave and the color of the daylight in my living room will reflect their absence. Maybe I am influenced by these changes around me, but whatever the reason, when the weather begins to cool I am drawn to a different palette of flavors.
Enough of my waxy poetry. I’ll just paraphrase Ed Norton, by saying, “Hellooo Fall!” Out with the barbecue and watermelon, in with the roast beef and apple pie. That’s not bad news: I love the fall.
Wheeling my cart around Whole Foods the other day I spotted local apples for sale. It is still early enough that I was suspicious of their vintage; have these apples been stored since last year? (A common practice.) I was not at a greenmarket, so there was no one reliable to ask. What would have been the point? I was in the mood for something warm, apple-y, and cinnamon-y, so I cautiously bought a few. What the heck: if ya can’t eat ‘em, cook ‘em, right?
A few aisles later, I found I had somehow landed firmly on the side of cooking the apples. At first I thought of applesauce which is really easy, and when made at home really superior to the kind you buy in a jar. But the beauty–and danger–of planning a meal while still in the market is that inspiration is often just a shelf away. (Danger – temptation—usually takes the form of chocolate for me. Ah, but my lack of will power is not why you called…)
In this case the first bit of inspiration was the market’s sale on extra sharp Farmhouse cheddar cheese. I’m not sure if this is a New England “thing”, but alongside ice cream and whipped cream on the list of acceptable choices for apple pie topping we always had cheddar cheese. You heard right: cheddar cheese on apple pie. Before you dismiss this remember all of the wine and cheese you’ve had over the years. It’s the same basic dynamic. I believe the technical term is “yummy”.
Pie was not on the agenda; I was looking for something a bit lighter and less labor intense. Walking past the frozen foods I noticed frozen blintzes. I paused momentarily to consider making apple blintzes, but I just made crepes—the basis for blintzes—last week. And what would I write here? “Dear Reader: please re-read last week’s posting and add apples.”
Then from somewhere—who knows where inspiration comes from (oh, please!)—came the idea for apple ravioli. Sounds complicated, you say? Don’t worry: I’m not Martha Stewart, so I won’t be making pasta from scratch.
There’s an old trick, one you may have seen on TV, and that I used to see chefs use when making “house-made” ravioli. Wonton skins: the easiest ready-to-use, pre-made pasta on the market. Not perfect, but just right for my use.
Hustling into the kitchen, I peeled and diced the apples, then sautéed them with a bit of cinnamon, sugar, and just the slightest whiff of clove, and set them aside to cool. I grated the cheddar, and combined it with the cooled cooked apples. To mellow the mixture, round out the flavor, and bind everything together into a proper filling, I added a dab or two of cream cheese and cottage cheese. (Perhaps I still had blintzes on my mind?)
Assembling the ravioli was as easy as brushing the wonton skins with water, dropping a generous teaspoon-full of filling on top and sealing another skin on top. I used a fluted biscuit cutter to cut them into rounds – but that’s entirely optional.
To cook them, you have a choice: boil or pan fry. While pan frying isn’t quite as healthy as boiling, the trade off for frying them results in a toasty, crunchy treat with a gooey, cheesy filling. Then I sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar which makes them sweet and adds yet another layer of crunch. (What is it with me and crunch?) They are deceptively addictive. While a caramel sauce would be nice, or perhaps a blob of vanilla ice cream, none of that is necessary. They are great on their own.
Did I mention they are also portion-controlled?
Click here for the recipe for Apple Cheddar Ravioli.
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