Whether you're a NYC resident or touring in the vicinity, you might have noticed that fall has just kicked in with a gorgeous assortment of produce. Gourds and squash are appearing in Stone Ridge Orchard and grocer areas around us--Kabocha, for example, is great for a succulent spiced pumpkin squash soup rendition for chilly afternoon and evenings.
There is, however, nothing quite like picking fruits and vegetable yourself, and even better with family and friends. A great location for picking is at West Wind Orchard, in the Hudson Valley, a 2 hour drive from NYC that makes for a great mini road trip as you venture through the lush landscapes. On a weekend visit, Chef Chicco will fire up a wood oven pizza with toppings like kale and prosciutto as you scout for great locally sourced produce like vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes and their award-winning honey.
I did a taste test with New England apple varieties like Cortlands, Macintosh, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious-- My winning favorite is the Ginger Gold with a chartreuse bright yellow skin. I was also able to pick fresh red raspberries, a basket full of eggplants, and a variety of tomatoes from Black Prince Heirloom to Beef Steak. Soon there will be a large field of lettuce again such as Russian Red kale to baby arugula as the weather cools further.
Back at home in my urban garden I've grown five varieties of basil - Tulsi to Purple basil in the shady area part of my garden, where the crop tripled over the summer, especially with the extension of the warm weather this year. I've also pickled rainbow carrots and kirby cucumbers and stored some in jars for the winter months--As the summer trails behind us, I'm using the fruitful harvest to my full advantage, and encourage local herbivores and omnivores to do the same!
I always ended up with a trunk full of apples when I go with my family for apple picking.
Here is how to store apples:
- Store apples in an unsealed plastic bag in the refrigerator; they should last a few weeks
- Apple release ethylene gas, which speeds up ripening of other fruit
- Or bake them in crumble, crisp or apple pie egg roll
RECIPE: APPLE PIE EGG ROLL
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled , cored and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped for seeds
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice (about half a lemon)
Eight 6-inch square egg roll wrappers
2 eggs, beaten
Peanut oil, for frying
Powdered sugar, for dusting
For the filling:
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the apples and vanilla bean and saute for about 2 minutes.
Add the sugar, cinnamon and salt to the pan and cook until the apples start to turn a light caramel-golden brown but aren't falling apart, 6 to 8 minutes.
The apples should still have some tooth to them.
Add the flour and cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, to remove the raw taste from the flour.
Fold in the lemon juice. Spread the filling out in an even layer on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cold.
For the egg rolls:
Arrange an egg roll wrapper in a diamond shape on a board in front of you.
Brush the borders with a beaten egg. Spoon 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of the filling into the center of the wrapper.
Take care to leave about 1 inch between the filling and the edges of the wrapper.
Fold the end of the wrapper nearest you over the filling, then fold the sides over.
Finally, roll the wrapper into a tight cylinder, tucking and tightening as you go.
Repeat with the remaining wrappers until all the filling is used.
As you go, remember to keep the unused wrappers, as well as the finished egg rolls, covered with a towel to prevent them from drying out.
Add 4 to 5 inches of oil to a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and heat to 350 degrees F.
Fry the egg rolls in batches of 4 until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.
Serve dusted with powdered sugar.