Week 18: Closing up shop

Things are starting to get a bit lonely around here. The potato and carrot populations have long since moved on, only the eldest members of the apple clan remain and their days are definitely numbered.

And the timing is impeccable. Five months later, it’s finally warm enough to wear a short-sleeved shirt here in Paris, and occasionally to show even a bit of exposed leg. We’re calling it summer, our standards having fallen significantly over the past few chilly weeks. Summer means vacation and this year we are making no exceptions. Once the remaining 8 apples have been canned or frozen or baked or otherwise disposed of, chez Maureen will be off for a couple months. You can expect to see us back in September with fresh ideas and an updated directive.

In the meantime, some remaining thoughts on apples:

Danish apple soup

Fischstäbchen mit Äpfeln (Fish sticks with apples)

Apple butter

Apple fruit leather

Apfel-Mohnkuchen (Apple-poppy seed cake)


Danish apple soup

Danish butter cookies? Delicious. Danish design furniture? Beautiful. Danish pastry? No need to ask twice. Danish apple soup? Um, well, never heard of it? Let’s just say, some things export better than others.

This recipe is never going to hit your “chez Maureen top 10” chart but if you like blue cheese, lemon and you’re amenable to the idea of hot apples blended into soup, it’s worth a try.

The recipe is from a cookbook I received as a Christmas gift called : A world of hearty soups. Written in MCMLXIX by a Mr. John Philips Cranwell, the book is the chez Maureen of soup. A bit of humor, some practical advice, an infatuation with new-fangled kitchen utensils like the “manually operated ‘apple corer and divider’. With one stroke you can core an apple and divide it into eight segments.” (It took me a moment to realize which absolutely fabulous device he was referring to…) In fact I would go so far to suggest that if you start to experience chez Maureen withdrawal over the summer holidays, head down to your local used- and out-of-print bookshop and find a copy of Mr. Cranwell’s masterpiece (just for reference, the book retails for 37 cents on amazon.com). While the recipes might be even more opaque than my own, it will most certainly keep you as entertained.

Apples, 2 lbs (1 kg), tart apples are suggested.

Lemon, 1

Blue cheese, 2 oz (30 g), the recipe calls for Danish blue cheese but we live in France so I figured there was no use wasting my time looking for the Danish version of a French specialty. To shake things up a bit I used a blue cheese made from goat’s milk. I’m not a big fan of blue cheese but this particular one had a sticker on the package that it had won a “taste of the year” award. How could I refuse?)

Cinnamon stick, 1 (I actually left this out because one of my guests has a strong dislike of cinnamon. I’m including it here because it probably contributes an important nuance to the dish.)

Salt, 2 tsp.

Cornstarch, ½ cup (It’s also possible to use potato starch or plain flour as a thickener.)

Zwieback, 4 pieces (I can already warn you that it’s not easy to find zwieback in your typical U.S. supermarket. Zwieback is basically slices of dry bread. Your best bet is to check around the fancy cheese counter at your supermarket for one of those over-priced packs of miniature toasts. Or just put some regular old bread in the oven until it’s dried out.)

White wine, dry, ½ cup (120 ml)

  1. Core and slice the apple (using the referenced “apple corer and divider” if you’re lucky enough to have one).
  1. Peel the lemon and cut the peel into thin slices. Juice the lemon.
  2. Cut or break the cheese up into small pieces.
  3. Place the apples, lemon peel and juice, cinnamon stick, salt and cheese into a large pot with enough water to cover everything.
  1. Bring to a boil.
  2. Cover and let simmer for 35 minutes until the apples are very soft. Stir when you remember to.
  3. Remove the cinnamon stick and blend the soup into a puree. You can pour the soup into a regular blender in batches, or use a nifty immersion blender.
  4. Make a paste out your thickening agent of choice and some cold water.
  5. Add to the soup pot. Cover and simmer until thickened.
  6. Crumble the zwieback and place a handful into the bottom of each soup plate.
  1. Pour the soup on top and serve very hot.
  1. The recipe claims to be for 4 servings. These would be very very large servings for apple- and blue cheese connoisseurs. I would rather estimate that the recipe could serve 8-10 average appetites with ease.
  2. Cranwell suggests a cucumber and endive salad to accompany the soup. “The wine, of course, would be Riesling.” (I’m a bit puzzled by his smug “of course” since Riesling is hardly Danish. A quick search of wines produced in Denmark brought up multiple hits for a variety called “Viking Blod”. This, of course, would be my choice.)

Danish apple soup

This recipe is never going to hit your “chez Maureen top 10” chart but if you like blue cheese, lemon and you’re amenable to the idea of hot apples blended into soup, it’s worth a try.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Apples 2 lbs (1 kg), tart apples are suggested.
  • Lemon 1
  • Blue cheese 2 oz (30 g), see Note below
  • Cinnamon stick 1, see Note below
  • Salt 2 tsp.
  • Cornstarch ½ cup (It’s also possible to use potato starch or plain flour as a thickener.)
  • Zwieback 4 pieces, see Note below
  • White wine dry, ½ cup (120 ml)

Instructions

  • Core and slice the apple (using the referenced “apple corer and divider” if you’re lucky enough to have one).
  • Peel the lemon and cut the peel into thin slices. Juice the lemon.
  • Cut or break the cheese up into small pieces.
  • Place the apples, lemon peel and juice, cinnamon stick, salt and cheese into a large pot with enough water to cover everything.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Cover and let simmer for 35 minutes until the apples are very soft.
  • Stir when you remember to.
  • Remove the cinnamon stick and blend the soup into a puree. You can pour the soup into a regular blender in batches, or use a nifty immersion blender.
  • Make a paste out your thickening agent of choice and some cold water. Add to the soup pot.
  • Cover and simmer until thickened.
  • Crumble the zwieback and place a handful into the bottom of each soup plate.
  • Pour the soup on top and serve very hot.

Notes

Blue cheese: the recipe calls for Danish blue cheese but we live in France so I figured there was no use wasting my time looking for the Danish version of a French specialty. To shake things up a bit I used a blue cheese made from goat’s milk. I’m not a big fan of blue cheese but this particular one had a sticker on the package that it had won a “taste of the year” award. How could I refuse?
Cinnamon stick: I actually left this out because one of my guests has a strong dislike of cinnamon. I’m including it here because it probably contributes an important nuance to the dish.
Zwieback: I can already warn you that it’s not easy to find zwieback in your typical U.S. supermarket. Zwieback is basically slices of dry bread. Your best bet is to check around the fancy cheese counter at your supermarket for one of those over-priced packs of miniature toasts. Or just put some regular old bread in the oven until it’s dried out.
The recipe claims to be for 4 servings. These would be very very large servings for apple- and blue cheese connoisseurs. I would rather estimate that the recipe could serve 8-10 average appetites with ease.Cranwell suggests a cucumber and endive salad to accompany the soup. “The wine, of course, would be Riesling.” (I’m a bit puzzled by his smug “of course” since Riesling is hardly Danish. A quick search of wines produced in Denmark brought up multiple hits for a variety called “Viking Blod”. This, of course, would be my choice.)

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Fischstäbchen mit Äpfeln (Fish sticks with apples)

Imagine this: you’ve invited the boss and his/her significant other for dinner. You’ve sent your usually dependable husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/life partner to the store to pick up the remaining ingredients: a few nice bottles of wine, maybe some fine cheeses and a fresh fish of choice. They come back with “the only thing I could find”: fish sticks… This, my friend, is your go-to recipe: how to make fish sticks classy. Bearing in mind that they are still fish sticks, I recommend you double up on the wine offering or maybe pop open a bottle of champagne before the main course. That said, this recipe might just save your career (and your partnership).

Credit for the recipe goes to the Buchenberger Landfrauen and their timeless edition of “Apfel-Rezepte”, available to the public at the Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee bookshop.

Apples, 4 (1 lb or 500 g), sour apples are recommended but at this point better not to be too picky

Onions, 1 (the original recipe suggests ½ lb (250 g). Your call depending on how much you like onions, or more precisely, chopping onions.)

Apple juice, ½ cup (125 ml), could be replaced with apple cider vinegar

Fish sticks, 1 lb (450 g), (Yes, rectangular sticks of composed fish parts covered in breading that you dreaded as a child, that’s exactly what I’m referring to.)

Salt + pepper

Thyme, or other herbs of choice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a medium-size casserole dish.
  2. Peel and slice apples. Slice onions. Combine together and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Place in prepared casserole dish. Pour apple juice on top.
  1. Bake for 35 minutes.
  2. Lay the fish sticks on top and bake for a further 25 minutes.
  1. Voila, dinner is served! The Landfrauen suggest to serve this delicacy with rice and an endive salad.

Genuine reaction from a real child :

Fischstäbchen mit Äpfeln (Fish sticks with apples)

Credit for the recipe goes to the Buchenberger Landfrauen and their timeless edition of “Apfel-Rezepte”, available to the public at the Nationalpark Kellerwald-Edersee bookshop.
Print Recipe

Ingredients

  • Apples 4 (1 lb or 500 g), sour apples are recommended but at this point better not to be too picky
  • Onions 1 (the original recipe suggests ½ lb (250 g). Your call depending on how much you like onions, or more precisely, chopping onions.)
  • Apple juice ½ cup (125 ml), could be replaced with apple cider vinegar
  • Fish sticks 1 lb (450 g), (Yes, rectangular sticks of composed fish parts covered in breading that you dreaded as a child, that’s exactly what I’m referring to.)
  • Salt + pepper
  • Thyme or other herbs of choice

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a medium-size casserole dish.
  • Peel and slice apples. Slice onions.
  • Combine together and season with salt, pepper and herbs.
  • Place in prepared casserole dish.
  • Pour apple juice on top.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
  • Lay the fish sticks on top and bake for a further 25 minutes.

Notes

The Landfrauen suggest to serve this delicacy with rice and an endive salad.

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When we return, The Grande Finale:

Apple butter

Apple fruit leather

And last, but far from least:

Apfel-Mohnkuchen (Apple-poppy seed cake)

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