Cover of Cookbook

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

The review--- 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. The 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 mineI 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.

Recipes tested---!
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 cheese. 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 with 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. Enjoy.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon ground mustard powder
1 cup ricotta
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1/2 pound elbow macaroni, prepared according to package directions
1/2 cup apple-pear puree (page 137)
1 pound sharp cheddar, grated (about 2 cups), 1/4 cup reserved

1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
2. Butter a 9-inch square or round baking pan thoroughly.
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.

Serves 4