Monday, October 11, 2010

Apple Season is here!

It's October, and so that means apples are at their peak right now in many parts of the country. Apple butter, apple juice, apple cider, apple pie, and caramel apples, it's all good! And of course, my absolute favorite combo since I was a kid: a fresh, crunchy apple paired with a really good white Cheddar (or aged Gouda): yum.

If you're in the Southern California area, there are some fun places to go to enjoy fresh picked apples, and some orchards will even let you pick your own, for a fee, of course. I can recommend a few.

Just east of Los Angeles, I recommend the town of Oak Glen. There is a great place up there called Riley's at Los Rios Rancho. I was there for the first time last year around this time. I loved it and hope to make it back this year to check out a few places we didn't get to. The Los Rios Rancho has a great store, of course selling all things apple, as well as a big lawn in front where you can have a picnic and enjoy a slice of apple pie fresh from their bakery...

Isn't this beautiful?
It's a great place to spend a few hours. They have an apple press where you can make your own... well as lovely nature trails you can walk along, admiring the beauty of this mountain town and the fall foliage...

...a lovely display of pumpkins for sale...

...just a great place! Here is their website. You can see what apples they have available right now. Other places to visit up there (also listed as the city of Yucaipa): Law's Cider Mill & Ranch (I hear they have awesome caramel apples), Moms Country Orchards, Parrish Pioneer Ranch, & Willowbrook Apple Farm.

If you're nearer San Diego, you can head to Julian. They're also famous for their apples and the little town offers a few nice B&Bs to stay overnight, as well as shops and restaurants (and bakeries serving fresh apple pie). Check out their website for a listing of spots to get/buy/pick apples.

Around the Central Coast, Jack Creek Farms is a cute place to go. Next time I'm up there, I want to check out a few new places: Blue Sky Farm, SLO Creek Farms, or even the Ballard Apple Farm in Solvang on the way home.

Here's a nifty website if you want to read more about apples.

Now, for an outstanding Apple Tart recipe, you must try this one. Fresh apple slices sit above a cream cheese filling inside a cookie crust. It's best eaten the same day it's made, so invite some friends over and eat it up at one sitting.

Apple Tart

Preheat your oven to 400F.

cream together:
1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
Form into a ball. Press the crust into a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom (or a cake pan) with your fingers, coming up the sides of your pan. Prick the bottom with a fork. Bake blind for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the following:

1 egg
8 oz. cream cheese (allow to come to room temp)
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup sugar
Whisk (or use mixer) until very smooth.

2 apples, sliced thinly, leave skins on
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Toss the above together.
Set aside for later: a handful of sliced almonds (or small walnut pieces) for on top.

When crust is done, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Spread cream cheese mixture into crust. Arrange apples on top in nice rings. Scatter nuts over apples.
Bake 35-40 minutes in 400F oven. Cool in pan. Then slice and enjoy!


  1. We just headed up there again last weekend, hitting up a few new places. The apple season officially ends there on Nov 12 so get up there this weekend if you can. We enjoyed this time some fresh freshed apple cider which is super good cold. Also tried some apple crisp this time, which was excellent.


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