Title: The Comfort of Apples
Author: Philip and Lauren Rubin
159 pages; Hardcover $19.95 US/$21.95 CAN
Publisher: Lyons Press, Gilford CT 2010
Reviewed by, Chef John Vyhnanek, March, 2011
There's more than apple sauce and apple pie in
this book, somewhere there is an apple in every recipe.
The Comfort of Apples by Philip and
Lauren Rubin has created a book that takes us from the obvious
use of apples, like in German apple pancakes to the more subtle
insertion in Baklava where there is just a trace.
book has a lot of good images of apples, and ingredients that
are nice to look at. We start with a look at apple orchards and
how different varieties came about and then move to equipment
need to process them.
The recipes are arranged in
sections like breakfast, snacks, appetizers and the like. They
are well thought out and most are easy to prepare although some
are not for the casual cook's skill level. There is a trendy
recipe for Borscht Gravlax, a simple and savory Mac & Cheese and
the more challenging Lamb and Mascarpone Ravioli. Depending on
your taste and likes you may or may not like the apple pie. The
crust is fine and the flavor good, but I wouldn't ever put
cranberries and cranberry juice in mine---I like the pure taste
of apples. You can judge for yourself!
This is an all
season cookbook not just for the early fall apple harvest
season. Enjoy the recipes all year as most supermarkets have a
very good selection of apples year round.
Mac 'n Cheese
On January 4, 2006, Julia
Moskin, a food writer for the New York Times, wrote a
much-discussed and appreciated article about macaroni and
We played around with her idea for cheesy mac 'n
cheese, adding apples, pears, an egg, ricotta, and heavy cream.
You can use plain applesauce, but
we found that a dense
puree makes for a smoother result. The recipe yields a cheesy
product without the heavy, often floury sauce. We've made this
shredded meat from smoked ham hocks. It's simple:
simmer a few hocks in apple juice and water until falling off
the bone. Let cool, shred into the pasta,
and pop into the
oven. Use a sweet apple, which complements the fatty cheese.
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 cup ricotta
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound elbow
macaroni, prepared according to package directions
apple-pear puree (page 137)
1 pound sharp cheddar, grated
(about 2 cups), 1/4 cup reserved
the oven to 375°F.
2. Butter a 9-inch square or round baking
3. In a blender, puree all the ingredients,
except for the macaroni, apple-pear puree, and cheddar. Transfer
the blender contents to a large bowl, and mix well with the
macaroni, apple-pear puree, and cheese. Pour the mixture into
the prepared pan, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 1/2
hour. Remove the foil,
top with the reserved cheese, bake
another 1/2 hour, or until brown and bubbling. Remove and let
sit at least 20 minutes.