The heady, sweet smell of freshly baked apple desserts always reminds me of mothers. My own mother loves apples and for years one of her signature fall and winter weekend treats was a wonderful apple upside down cake served with warm caramel sauce. In fact, whenever we moved while I was growing up, one of my mom’s first gardening projects was to plant a couple of Cortland apple trees so that she could have a ready supply of fruit both for snacks and for making into this dessert.
Although my mother-in-law Lise Kouprie doesn’t grow her own apples, she is quite famous in her own circles for her excellent Dutch apple tart. Made with tangy, firm Granny Smith apples, she serves large wedges of this not-too-sweet pie with mugs of café au lait as a dessert but also for breakfast and as an afternoon snack, too.
On my own dinner table, apples turn up cooked not only in desserts like these ones, but in many savoury recipes where these delicious fruits add just the right texture, depth and sweetness that make other ingredients such as onions or cabbage taste even better than they do on their own.
Sausages with Onions, Apples and Swiss Cheese
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter
1 very thinly sliced Vidalia or Spanish onion, about 12 oz (375 g)
1 tbsp (15 mL) brown sugar or maple syrup
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried thyme leaves and pepper
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 apples, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh parsley
6 bratwurst or other sweet pork sausages, about 1 1/2 lb (750 g) total
3/4 cup (175 mL) apple juice or chicken broth
3 slices Swiss cheese, halved diagonally
Melt the butter in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the onions. Cook, stirring often for 8 minutes or until softened. Stir in the brown sugar, thyme, pepper, salt and garlic. Increase the heat to medium high. Add the apple and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Scrape the apple mixture from the pan to a bowl. Stir in the parsley and reserve, covered.
Slash sausages a couple of times on each side. Return the skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer sausages, cut-side-down into the skillet. Cook, turning as needed for 4 to 5 minutes or until browned all over.
Add the apple juice to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, partially covered, for 12 to 15 minutes longer or until sausages are cooked all the way through. Drape a slice of cheese over each sausage. Cover the pan and cook for 1 minute or until the cheese is melted. Serve the sausages topped with the apple mixture. Makes 6 servings.
Note: this photo and recipe appear in my book, Dana’s Top Ten Table (Random House 2007).