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Stuck eating regular apples? Go to Apple Tasting

by: submitted photo At Portland Nursery’s Apple Tasting this weekend you can sample more than 50 apples and pears. This could be your chance to find a new favorite. The tasting includes demonstrations of cooking apples and making apple cider, as well as lots of music and other events.

Have you ever eaten a Brock or Galer apple? Can you taste the difference between a Natco #87 and a Natco #90? Do you consider anything other than a red delicious apple exotic?

If you answer no to the first two questions and yes to the last, you ought to get your taster to Portland Nursery's Apple Tasting 2011. It's on this Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 5050 S.E. Stark in Portland, and it's free.

For the past couple of years the fine folks at the Portland Nursery have organized a tasting of more than 50 apples and pears. Many are heirloom varieties, but your regular favorites will also be available. They'll have plenty on hand for you to buy by the pound.

Eating isn't the only activity planned for the weekend. There will be cider pressing demonstrations and cooking demonstrations. There will also be Apple Tasting for your Ears - in other words, music.

The line up sounds like just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. you can hear the music of Boy and Bean. They're a swing jazz trio from Portland that covers artists like the Boswell Sisters and Ella Fitzgerald. From 2 to 4 p.m., you can hear Kung Pao Chickens, a Portland music scene favorite who plays Django Rinehart style jazz.

The Sunday lineup starts at 11 a.m. with Midnight Serenaders, a six-piece band that plays 20s and 30s swing jazz. Then at 2 p.m., the Klezmocracy Quintet will fill the air with their blends of traditional Eastern European klezmer music and jazz, Latin and rock influences.

And for the kids there will be face painting, crafts, hula hooping and a scavenger hunt. Add in a Scarecrow Contest and a Photo Contest and you've got an event with something for the whole family.

If you bring a canned or non-perishable food donation for Impact NW, you will be entered into a raffle to win one of three $25 Portland Nursery gift cards.

Take advantage of this opportunity to taste some new to you apples at the Apple Tasting. It's bound to be fun!

Included today are two recipes for dishes to make with the apples. Try them this weekend!

Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

Apple Pie Bars

Makes 4 dozen bars

Crust:

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup sugar

3 cups all purpose flour

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Filling:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup light brown sugar

12 Granny Smith apples (about 6 pounds), peeled, cored and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup water, as necessary

Topping:

¾ cup walnuts

3 cups quick-cooking oats

2 cups all purpose flour

1 ½ cups light brown sugar

1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes and chilled

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a 15 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until soft dough forms. Press the dough over the bottom of the prepared pan and ½ inch up the sides in an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and set. Let cool on a rack.

In each of 2 large skillets, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter with ¼ cup of the light brown sugar. Add the apples to the skillets and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Stir half of the cinnamon and nutmeg into each skillet. Cook until the apples are caramelized and very tender and the liquid is evaporated, about 10 minutes longer; scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the skillets and add up to ½ cup water to each pan to prevent scorching. Let cool.

Spread the walnuts in a pie plate and toast until golden and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop the walnuts. In a large bowl, mix the oats with the flour, light brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in the walnuts and press the mixture into clumps.

Spread the apple filling over the crust. Scatter the crumbs on top, pressing them lightly into an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 1 hour, until the topping is golden. Rotate the pan halfway through baking. Let cool completely on a rack before cutting into 2-inch squares.

The bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 4 days or frozen for up to a month.

Curried Apple Soup

Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 shallots, minced

2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger

1 ½ tablespoons curry powder

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1 inch pieces

1 small russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning

3 ¾ cups chicken stock

½ cup milk

Freshly ground black pepper

Sour cream to garnish, optional

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots, cook until soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add ginger and curry powder; cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add apples, potato, salt and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until potato is tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

Use an immersion blender or transfer mixture to the jar of a blender, working in batches if necessary so as not to fill more than halfway, puree just until smooth (do not over process). Return soup to pan, stir in milk and season with salt and pepper. Place over medium heat until soup is just heated through, do not let it boil. Divide soup among four bowls and garnish with sour cream if desired.

Adapted from Martha Stewart.com

Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext 101 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.