Sunday, July 14, 2024

Apples are original ‘health food’: Oldies and surprises

| August 22, 2021 1:00 AM

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is an old adage that still comes pretty close to the truth. New and fancy fruits that come on the market and star in food magazines still can’t beat the apples’ well-earned reputation — and their delicious, satisfying crunch. Today’s column provides some old favorites that just can’t be beaten. Enjoy.

Old-Time Apple/Cheese Salad

Firm, crisp, tart apples (1 per person)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 1/2 cups diced cubes of sharp cheddar cheese

3/4 cup raisins

3/4 cup chopped celery

1 teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice

Mayonnaise or Miracle Whip salad dressing*

Wash and core the apples and don’t peel unless the skin is tough or damaged. Slice, then chop into half-inch dice. Place in a bowl and toss with the vinegar or lemon juice, then add remaining ingredients and stir in dressing to your taste.

• Mother used to make boiled dressing beforehand and let it chill for the salad, but when Nalley’s came out with Miracle Whip in the ’40s, she switched to that. Your choice of mayo works just fine.

Cabbage Apple Slaw

2-3 cups cored, peeled apples, cut into cubes

3 cups shredded and chopped green cabbage

1/2 cup finely chopped dates (or raisins)

1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts

2 tablespoons lemon juice, separated

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 teaspoon cane sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Salt, pepper to taste

Prepare apples, toss in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon lemon juice to keep from browning. Shred cabbage; place in large salad bowl; toss with the dates and walnuts.

Make dressing: Mix remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, mayo, sugar, ginger. Add apples/lemon juice to cabbage, tossing to combine ingredients. Pour dressing over salad and mix well; salt to taste. Cover and chill before serving.

Here’s an old favorite from the ’40s that’s still satisfying today. We had a big tree of Transparent apples, perfect for this anytime snack.

Grilled Peanut Butter and Apple Sandwich

(For 4)

4 tablespoons butter, softened

8 slices cinnamon raisin bread (or other)

1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Cream cheese*

1 Golden Delicious apple (or other large tender/crisp apple), peeled, thinly sliced

Lay out bread slices for preparing sandwiches. Spread butter evenly on one side of each slice of bread. On four of the unbuttered sides of bread, spread equal amounts of peanut butter; place apple slices evenly over peanut butter and spread cream cheese on facing (top) slice. Top with remaining bread, buttered sides out — making four complete sandwiches ready for grilling. Preheat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. Cook sandwiches in batches, if necessary, for 2-3 minutes per side, or until both sides are golden. Serve immediately, sliced diagonally.

Note: This sandwich is good as is, without grilling, but is better with plain mayo than cream cheese.

Apple Oatmeal Cookies

1/3 cup EACH vegetable oil, brown sugar, molasses

1 egg

1 cup white flour

1/2 teaspoon EACH baking powder, baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt (if desired)

1/4 teaspoon EACH nutmeg and cinnamon

1 cup peeled apples, grated

1/2 cup raisins

1 1/4 cups quick rolled oats

Preheat oven to 400F. In large bowl, beat together the oil, sugar, molasses and egg.

In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients and combine together. Add to the oil mixture. Stir in apples, raisins and oats and mix ingredients well. Drop by rounded teaspoons about 2 inches apart on lightly greased baking sheets. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned around edges; remove to a rack to cool.

My Norwegian Grandma Davidson stayed with us one happy summer in Chilco back in the ‘30s. She happily took over the kitchen for many savory treats. One of her delights was this heavenly memory from her old cast iron skillet (which I inherited and still use regularly).This works for breakfast, brunch or supper.

Oven Apple Pancakes

(4-6 servings)

2 large, firm apples, peeled, cored, sliced

2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 tablespoons butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup whole milk or light cream

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 425F. Toss apple slices with the maple syrup and lemon juice and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium cast-iron skillet and remove from heat.

Beat eggs and milk in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. In another bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon and salt and whisk in the egg mixture until smooth.

Return skillet to heat and sauté the apples in the remaining butter over high heat. Toss and turn with a spatula for even cooking; don’t let them get mushy. After 2-3 minutes, spread them evenly over the bottom of the skillet and slowly pour on the batter. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes until very puffy and lightly browned. Serve in wedges immediately (it will fall soon like a soufflé) directly from the pan and drizzle with warm maple syrup or cream.

Apple-Walnut Cake

4 cups peeled, cored, finely chopped apples

1 cup cane sugar

1 cup chopped walnuts

2/3 cup butter, melted

2 eggs, slightly beaten

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon EACH baking powder and baking soda

1/4 teaspoon EACH ground allspice and cardamom

1/8 teaspoon salt

Set oven to 350 degrees. In large mixing bowl combine apples, sugar, walnuts and melted butter; stir in eggs and vanilla. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon and all remaining dry ingredients. Mix well and add to apple mixture, stirring until just combined.

Grease and flour a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and pour in batter, spreading evenly. Bake about 30 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes before serving warm. The sky’s the limit for toppers: Whipped cream, ice cream, a garnishment of fresh apple slices, more chopped walnuts, or simply powdered sugar, as desired.

Valle Novak writes the Country Chef and Weekend Gardener columns for the Daily Bee. She can be reached at or by phone at 208-265-4688 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.


Valle Novak