Apple Family Values Transcript

Mercier Orchards: Blue Ridge, GA - 8:41 am


    Primal, protean, sophisticated, symbolic: the apple is the king of all fruit. So revered, in fact, that many non-applesavocados, egg plants, pomegranate, pineapples, quinces, tomatoes, computers, defunct record companies and at least one north-eastern metropolishave sought to make the apple name their own.
    Man, on the other hand, ever since he was able to put Crayola to cave wall has sought to cast the apple as a kind of literary fruit fatal, a dangerous symbol of desires gone awry, discord and, well, forbidden knowledge.

EVE: [offers AB an apple]
AB: Oh, thanks but I've already got one. Nice snake, though.

    You know, I guess with a Latin name like malus, it's tough to be good even if you are good eats.

Whole Foods: Atlanta, GA - 9:35 am

The U.S. leads the world in apple production, growing over 3,000 varieties.

    With choices, of course, come challenges. I mean Crispins, what are they good for? Can you cook a mountaineer? Criterion, I thought that was a mid-sized sedan.

    Well, ever eager to categorize we've decided to divide the apple kingdom into 3 distinct categories: the raw, the cooked and the baked.


    The raw category, of course, includes out-of-hand eating apples. What's best? Whatever you like. Now, I like these little Lady apples but that's just me.


    Whatever your favorite, look for ripe or slightly under ripe specimens that have a good clean aroma, heft, tight skins and firmness. Now granted, the flesh of some apples should be softer than others. But if the flesh gives to just gentle finger pressure, odds are the apple is mealy on the inside.

Buy ripe or slightly
under ripe

Clean aroma
Tight skin

    Now, certain apples exceeding in the out-of-hand experience, Ginger Gold, Fuji, Jonagold, Cortland and Winesaps hold their texture and resist browning when cut making them perfect for ...

Ginger Gold

The Kitchen

... Waldorf Salad, the study in minimalism, designed in 1893 by Oscar, legendary maître d' of New York's Waldorf Hotel.

    The salad was a 2 note tune: chopped apples and mayonnaise on lettuce ... lettuce doesn't count as a note. Now, the Waldorf's classic status comes from its Zen-like balance: creamy tangy mayo, tart crisp apples.

Chopped Apples
Mayo & Lettuce

    Now, our version starts with three apples, 2 Ginger Golds and 1 Red Delicious. Now, both of these varieties resist browning which is a plus but, you can use any apple that you enjoy out-of-hand.

2 Ginger Gold
1 Red Delicious

Resist Browning

    Other varieties up to the job include ...

Fuji        Ginger Gold
Winesap      Jonagold
Pink Lady           Gala
Red Delicious

    Now, there are plenty of devices out there designed for whittling apples. But unless you plan on doing this kind of thing at home [shows an apple cut and arranged to look like a turkey], all you really need is a knife and a melon baller, the melon baller being the true unsung hero of the kitchen. Now, once you've cut the apple in half, just use your melon baller to scoop out the very middle of the core there. Make sure you get all of the seeds. Then, just lightly scrape from the stem end all the way down all the way to the blossom end. There you go.

    Now, using your paring knife or chef's knife chop into medium sized bites and then toss with 3 tablespoons of cider vinegar. Now, the acid in the vinegar will keep the enzymes in the apple from turning it brown. Vitamin C and lemon juice will do the same thing but they don't taste very good.

3 Tbls Cider Vinegar

    Now, fold in 1 cup of good, quality mayonnaise, nothing that claims to be salad dressing or dessert toppings, please. Fold in thoroughly, completely surrounding all those pieces of apple.

1 Cup Mayonnaise

    Then, season with a pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Lay this out on a lettuce leaf and voilà, you've got a Waldorf salad.

1 Pinch Kosher Salt
Black Pepper

    But everything evolves, at least in food, and salads in particular. A few years after its creation somebody added 3/4 of a cup of toasted walnuts and it stuck. Why? Well, the nuts added flavor and texture without destroying the balance of the salad.

3/4 Cup Toasted Walnuts

    Now, could we go further? Would adding more enhance or derail the dish?

    [music and echo create the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire effect] Well, what would you do next? Add golden raisins, sliced grapes or gummy bears? The raisins. Are you sure? Well, to balance the earthy crunch of the nuts I'm afraid you would need a cup of golden raisins, that's right.

Golden Raisins
Sliced Grapes
Gummy Bears

1 Cup Golden Raisins

    Do you want to go on? Really. Okay. What about something to boost the mayo? Would you stir in cayenne pepper, garlic powder or curry powder? Curry powder. Is that your final answer? Well, since it gets a long so well with sweet and savory ingredients I'm afraid that 2 teaspoons of curry powder is correct.

Cayenne Pepper
Garlic Powder
Curry Powder

2 tsp Curry Powder

    Now, you have achieved balance. You can eat now or keep playing. Want to keep going? Okay. To add another layer of flavor and texture you would add toasted croutons, bias cut celery or popcorn? Croutons, huh. Hmm. Are you sure you wouldn't really prefer a couple of stalks of celery cut thin on the bias? Maybe you should use one of your life lines. Celery? Going to go with the celery? Two stalks of celery biased cut is correct. Ha, ha, ha. 

Toasted Croutons
Bias Sliced Celery

2 Stalks Bias Sliced Celery

    Okay, stakes are going up now so listen carefully. What fresh herb would enhance the dish without disrupting the apples or the curry? Would it be fresh mint, chopped lemon grass or a pinch of potpourri? Take your time. Really think about this. The potpourri. The mint. Lemon grass certainly delicious. You're going to go with the mint. Do you really feel good about this decision? Are you sure? Well, a third of a cup chiffonade is correct. Chiffonade, of course, is French for 'shred'. Isn't cooking fun?
    Now to make chiffonade you want to stack up several mint leaves, roll them and slice them thin. Do not chop or the edges will turn black. Now, we'll just fold that right into the salad.

Fresh Mint
Chopped Lemon Grass
Pinch Potpourri

1/3 Cup Fresh Mint

Chiffonade = Shred

    Now, the stakes are pretty high. So, we'd better stop. You want to go on? Are you absolutely certain? Okay.
    Final question: all this sweetness could stand the earthy heat of half a medium, red onion shredded or a cup of potting soil? I guess that one wasn't very hard, was it? Doesn't matter, you win. The onion is correct. Now, just fold all of this together.

1/2 Red Onion Shredded
Cup Potting Soil

1/2 Red Onion Shredded

    Check your seasoning again and serve on the traditional lettuce leaves. Could we have stopped anywhere along the way? Sure, we'd have a great salad but come on, it's not like we're gambling with beef tenderloins here. Ahh. Now that is a wonderful Waldorf.

The same enzyme that makes apples turn brown:
polyphenoloxidase, is responsible for the tanning of humans.

Hittin' the Sauce

The Kitchen

    Now when it comes midnight snackin' time, I usually reach for applesauce. Comes time to braise pork chops, applesauce. Um, crepe filling, applesauce. Potato pancakes, definitely applesauce. And when I reach for applesauce this is the applesauce I reach for and it's about as easy as it comes.

    But before we get to the apple part of the applesauce, we've got a little bit of liquid chemistry to deal with in the form of unfiltered apple juice. Now, yes, you could do this with the regular kind but won't be as good, so 1 cup of the unfiltered stuff.

1 Cup Unfiltered Apple Juice

    Now, to bring out the kind of earthiness of the juice I'm going to add just a little bit of cognac. You can use brandy if you want but I like cognac better and I'm just going to add 2 tablespoons. That's enough, just enough to bring out a little something extra in the juice.

2 Tbls Cognac

    Also going to add 2 tablespoons, 1 ounce, of butter. And since butter weighs the same by weight as by volume, I'm going to do it by displacement. There we go.

2 Tbls (1 oz) Butter

    Now, into a container along with 3 tablespoons of honey. Now, I hate measuring this with spoons cause, well, it gets all gunked up so I usually give one squirt per teaspoon. So that's going to be 9 teaspoons. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. Nine teaspoons equals 3 tablespoons.

3 Tbls Honey
9 Teaspoons
1 1/2 Oz

    Now, there is only 1 spice in this dish and that is cinnamon and it's only going to take about half a teaspoon. And that's because in the presence of fat, the butter, the cinnamon is actually going to get stronger. It's going to have it's flavor reinforced a little bit so it doesn't take much.

1/2 tsp Cinnamon

    Now, did I mention that this is microwaveable container? That's right. It actually is good for something besides popping corn and reheating coffee and mash potatoes.

    But first, we've got apples to peel. Six of them to be exact: 3 Golden Delicious for sweetness and smoothness and then 3 Fujis for tartness and a little bit of added texture. Now, the only thing you need to peel everything short of a watermelon is one of these [peelers].

3 Golden Delicious
3 Fuji

Other great sauce apples include: Rome, Gala, Crispin, McIntosh and Idared.

    In either one of them starts with taking the very top ring off the apple. Now, I turn the fruit instead of the peeler. It just works better for me. Now, you can just continue to circumnavigate the globe, so to speak, spiraling down. I've seen a lot of ladies making pie in Minnesota using this method. Takes a little bit more practice but some folks say that it is indeed the fastest way to peel an apple. And, of course, you've got, well, whatever that's good for.
    Quarter, seed, then give everything a good shake. It's kind of like making a big martini. Then open the lid, just one corner, a little crack. That will let steam out as it generates. If you forget to do this the lid's going to go off in there like a mortar. It will be messy. You don't want that.
    Now, if you've got a carousel that automatically turns the food, nuke this on high for 10 minutes. If you don't have a carousel you might consider donating your machine to the local appliance museum or at the very least buying one of those windup microwave carousels. If you can't manage that, then open the door every two minutes during cooking and just turn the container a quarter turn.

    Now, inside the microwave a device called a magnetron tube sprays a fluctuating stream of souped up TV rays called microwaves into a reflective fan which bounces the energy around the metal enclosure of the oven. Any food that gets in the way is penetrated and asymmetrical molecules such like fat, sugar and water vibrate, creating friction, therefore heat which cooks the food.

Magnetron Tube
Reflective Fan
Sugar   Fat   H20

    Now, since the air in the oven isn't actually heated, foods that require browning like meats and bread don't taste or look good when microwaved.

Microwaves can't brown food!

    This, on the other hand, does. Now, you can leave this exactly as it is and serve it chunky or you can mash it, give it the old rustic treatment, or my favorite buzz it almost smooth. Now, if you're not serving right away let this cool to room temperature and then just chill in the refrigerator. You'll notice that over the next two, three days the flavor is going to intensify, it's going to get even better than it is. Tightly covered and refrigerated this will keep two, maybe three weeks.

Early microwave ovens cost thousands of dollars, weighed
hundreds of pounds and required cold running H20 for cooling.

Baker Baker 1-9
Whole Foods: Atlanta, GA

    What gives a baking apple, the backbone to stand up to an oven's heat? The same stuff that gives us backbone, calcium. Apples high in the mineral, Baldwins, Northern Spy, Romes, Granny Smiths and Braeburns will soften as cooked but like Weebles they won't fall down.

Northern Spy
Granny Smith

The Kitchen

    One of the first creations to emerge from the hotbed of American dessert design that was to be known as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, was the apple crisp: an incredibly simple device of just apples baked in a bowl in their own juices but topped with a wonderful oatmeal device called a streusel. Now on top of just being insanely delicious, the streusel is infamous for leaving an almost chisel chipping residue on the bake ware. Now, we have bypassed that problem by going with an edible bowl, the apple. But first, the streusel topping. It doesn't get simpler than this.

    Starts with three quarter cups of plain old oatmeal. Not instant oatmeal, not quick oatmeal, not the oatmeal that comes in the little envelopes that has the brown sugar and cinnamon already mixed into it and, the same amount of all purpose flour, three quarters of a cup.

3/4 Cup Rolled Oats

3/4 Cup AP Flour

    Two thirds of a cup of light, gold brown sugar. It's not the dark stuff. It's just the gold stuff. And when you measure it out, pack it down and then rake it. Okay. That's one third and that's two thirds.

2/3 Cup Light Brown Sugar

    One teaspoon of ground cinnamon (got to get my spoons here)  and that's going to be the primary seasoning. But to back that up and give it a little bit of dimension I'm going to add a half a teaspoon of ginger. Now, ginger and cinnamon really work well together as a team and you really don't notice that the ginger is there when there's a little bit more of the cinnamon 

1 tsp Ground Cinnamon

1/2 tsp Ground Ginger

    Now finally, but always, a pinch of kosher salt. This does not make the dessert taste salty. Remember, salt is a flavor enhancer. It's actually going to make the apples taste more 'applely', the cinnamon taste more 'cinnamony'. Hm. You get the drift.

1 Pinch Kosher Salt

    So, just kind of strew this all together with your hands. And then we're going to work in one stick of cold butter, diced. The smaller the pieces that it's cut in before you start the better. 

1 Stick Butter, Diced

    Now, for the next 30 seconds, a minute tops, fold with your hands. Just get in there with your finger tips and squeeze the butter against the oatmeal. There. That's what you want. Still chunks of butter, it's still crumbly and the butter is still nice and hard which is what you want. If it gets soft on you while you're working, put it in the fridge for a little while, let it get to hard again before you start working. So, we're going to park that and turn our attention to the apples.
    You're going to need a cutting board ... [notices one already there] well, will you look at that ... and you're going to need paring knife and your melon baller. Now, the most important thing about carving up apples or, well, fruits or anything if you ask me, is you don't do it up in midair. This results in putting your eye out. You want to keep it on the board. Cut off the bottom just enough to open it up and get a nice stable platform which we've got.

    Knife in just at the apex of the curve at about a 45º angle. Do not get out your protractor if you are so inclined. Just guess. And move the apple against the knife blade. I'm not cutting towards my hand. I am holding the knife basically still. Just moving it in and out while turning the apple into the knife. It's the safest way to go. And then you get a nice little lid. It's almost like cutting the top out of a jack-o'-lantern for Halloween.

45 degree angle

Move Apple - Not Knife

    Now, we've still got the core inside there. So, that's where the melon baller comes in. Just dig right down in towards the core and kind of just turn that core out. There. Now, if you see that little star in the bottom, that means that you've gotten all the seeds out and that's great. So, we've got a nice little reservoir in there, and just repeat that with all the apples.
    So, streusel comes out of the refrigerator but before we pack these bad boys up we've got this little reservoir in here to deal with and I like to fill it up with honey. You don't even have to measure it. Just squeeze it right in there almost to the top of that little reservoir.
    So, once the little reservoirs are full you're going to need a baking dish and you're going to work right over the bowl. So, take an apple, scoop up a nice big handful of streusel and just literally pour it right on top. Then you're going to press this first edition down like that, lightly, almost till it's smooth. Then you're going to add another layer and just sprinkle that one on and into the baking dish.
    Now, I like to use a small a pan as possible because I think it kind of helps the apples to cook. The heat kind of bounces off the pan and browns the outside. But you don't want them touching so just space them out so that they're not touching each other or the sides of the pan. There.

    Now, into a 350º oven, either in the middle or top rack is fine, and we're going to set the timer for 40 minutes and I'm not even going to look in there until this goes off.


40 Minutes

    Now, since every apple variety is different, it's impossible to pin a cooking time on the dessert. You must apply the Charmin squeeze.

53 minutes later

    Now, if you are used to handling nuclear material with your bare hands you can use your fingers for this. Me, I'll stick with the tongs. Just grab along the equator and squeeze gently. If nothing happens you've got more baking to do. But, if the fruit yields to the will of the tong like that, time's up. Now while you're here, you might as well check them all because one raw apple spoils the bunch. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

John Chapman (1774-1820) planted
orchards throughout the American Midwest.
School kids know him as "Johnny Appleseed."

The Kitchen

GUEST: Doctor

    Like avocados and bananas, apples are auto-stimulators. It means they are capable of ripening even after they are picked. Now, this mean trick is made possible by a gas called, ethylene, which is produced by the fruit itself.

H2C = CH2

    Apples, in fact, are such prolific ethylene producers that an under ripe bunch of bananas will ripen in half the time if closed in a paper bag with a ripe apple. Now, ethylene production signals the apple's final demise. But, it can be halted or at least slowed down if the apple is kept cold and is deprived of oxygen. Now, New England growers a century ago used to seal their apples in barrels immediately after harvest and they suck them in lakes and rivers for the winter. When retrieved after spring thaw the fruit hadn't aged a day.

    Today, air tight cold rooms loaded with nitrogen gas have replaced the sunken barrels making it possible for an apple picked young in November to ripen here in your fridge come February. Now, you can add to the longevity of your apples by keep them in plastic bags. I like the ones with little holes in them. Keep them refrigerated and away from other ethylene producers unless, of course, you're trying to speed the hands of time.

Store in plastic bags

    And be sure to remove any bad apples that show themselves. See, once just a single apple goes rotten to the core it's ethylene production skyrockets and that definitely will spoil the whole bunch.

Remove bad apples promptly

    Now, we hope we've piqued your interest in an appetite for the great American apple. You know, they really are a lot like Americans. They've got so many individual characteristics that you just can't rigidly categorize them. You've got to spend some time with them, get to know them on their own terms.
    Now, you can use these three dishes as kind of gauges to familiarize yourself with the apple nation and what it can do in your kitchen.

DOCTOR: [knocks on door]

    Aw, geez. I hate to see those guys. That's why I eat one of these a day. You see, besides 5 full grams of fiber apple skin contains a powerful anti-oxidant. It's called flavanoids and some new, recent research shows that it may actually lower both heart attacks and cancer. Excuse me.

D: [knocks more persistently]
AB: [answers the door] Hi ya, Doc. Here you go. [hands him an apple] This should keep you away from yourself for at least
      a day. How do you like them apples? See ya.

    And we'll see you next time on Good Eats.

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010