Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Culinary IQ: Wednesday, November 9, 2011: Apples

An Apple a Day
Today I am going to discuss the apple. The attractive appearance, flavor and flexibility of the apple make it a temptation in the kitchen that most cooks are unable to avoid. Dating back possibly to the beginning of mankind, the apple is the most cultivated of all tree fruits. The apple is a member of the rose family. The apple tree blooms in the spring and bears fruit in the fall. If stored properly, apples will last well into the fall. Apples are also commonly used in cooking and can be preserved for later use. China grows the largest number of apples followed by the United States and Iran is third. Because apple trees grow and produce easily in many climates, locally grown apples are widely available. Apples are seasonal, remember to check the season for you area. You should be able to find a list of fruits and vegetables and their seasonal availability in your area on the internet. Remember if it is not in season, it probably was not grown locally.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away? The health benefits of the apple are derived mainly from the antioxidant compounds and fiber they contain. Research shows that apples may be beneficial in preventing some forms of cancer, reducing cholesterol and preventing a decline in cognitive performance.

Apples are eaten fresh, cooked, baked in cakes, cookies, breads, and pies, made into sauces and can even be used as a substitute for fat when making fat free foods. One of my favorite recipes that uses apples is the following salad:

Cajun Barbecue Chicken Salad
Serves 4
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Spicy Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup whole kernel corn, drained
1/2 cup diced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup diced red apple*
1/2 cup diced green apple*
Mixed salad greens
Ranch Dressing
Spicy Peanuts**
Grill chicken with spicy barbecue sauce until done, cool.
In a large bowl toss together the kernel corn, red onion, blue cheese, apple, salad greens and enough ranch dressing to coat.
Portion salad onto 4 plates and sprinkle with spicy peanuts.
Slice chicken breasts into strips and arrange on top of salads.
*To prevent apples from browning, after dicing place in a bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of lemon juice, drain and dry briefly on a paper towl.
**Spicy peanuts are usually available in the snack section of your supermarket or can be purchased at Superior Nut Co., 5200 Valley Rd., Los Angeles, CA (213) 223-2431

Have your apple today but don't cancel your doctors appointment!

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