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Wednesday, July 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 61.0° F  Fair
The Paper

RECIPE BOX

Apple of my eye
Cherished recipes for your special valentines


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I know it seems unusual to be talking about a fruit that won't be harvested for months, but I love apples. Apples are my absolute favorite food to eat and prepare.

Many Wisconsin farms had at least one apple tree. My parents' first farm in Marshall had one that grew along the lane. None of us siblings knew what kind of apples it bore, but they were the crispiest little fruits. We would munch on apples while doing chores. That tree is gone now, but all of my brothers and sisters remember the distinct flavor of those apples.

Every fall, my grandmother from Germany, "Oma," would visit for a full month. Oma always said she couldn't tolerate our hot Wisconsin summers, but I'm convinced she came for ripe tomatoes and flavorful apples.

The start of school will forever remind me of a dish she made called "Äpfels und Pyjamas," or Apples and Pajamas. When my siblings and I got off the bus after school, Oma would have bowls of warm, poached apples, topped with homemade vanilla pudding, sitting out in the kitchen. That farmhouse kitchen would serve to turn bushels of apples into crisps, pies and apple tart.

Apples are certainly worth the time invested to create a dish that will forever warm the heart. Since I've been cooking, I've been buying apples from the orchard down the road from the farm where I grew up. Mr. Zickert of Zickert's Orchard still comes to greet us after a couple friendly toots of our car horn. His late wife, Margaret, a true recipe guru, often had her prize recipes published in our local papers.

In my kitchen I use apples to sweeten cabbage dishes, as healthy snacks for the kids, as filling for crepes, and for making my all-time favorite dessert, Apple Pizza. My mom found the Apple Pizza recipe in a newspaper back in the 1950s. This dessert, although simple, is absolutely delicious.

When my husband first suggested I offer these recipes, I was reluctant. They're so dear to my heart, letting them out of my recipe box seemed somehow wrong. However, after some soul-searching and reflection on all the recipes that Margaret Zickert shared, I thought, "Why not?" After all, it is Valentine's Day.

Apple Pizza

Filling

  • 7 cups of apples, peeled and sliced
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Topping

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter (not melted)

Prepare a double batch of a piecrust recipe of your choice. Preheat oven to 450. Pat the piecrust into a 12" pizza pan or square pan. Combine the apples with the other filling ingredients and spread over the unbaked crust. Mix the topping ingredients to create a crumbly topping. Sprinkle across the apples, and bake for 25 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned. Serves 6.

Apples and Pajamas

Apple sauce

  • 4 apples, peeled, cored, and quartered

Place the apples in a pan with a little water. Simmer until tender. Portion the cooked apples into 5 or 6 bowls.

Vanilla pudding

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla

In the top of a double boiler, combine the sugar, salt and cornstarch. Gradually add the milk, stirring to dissolve the dry ingredients. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly until the mixture is heated through. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs and stir into them a little at a time enough of the hot mixture to heat the eggs to the same temperature. Combine the egg mixture with the remainder of the hot mixture. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture thickens. Remove the pan from the hot water and stir in the butter and vanilla. Spoon over the apples. Serves 5-6.

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