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APPLES OFFER A CRISP TASTE OF FALL

Except for the pumpkin, no other produce looks, tastes and feels as much like fall asa fresh apple. A bad one, mealy and dull, is a whole other animal than its complex, fresh ideal.

This time of year, the grocery store bins are loaded with apples that we don't see year-round such as Jonathan, Golden Delicious and Braeburn.

All apples are not created equal, and it's good to know something about them before you buy. For instance, a Granny Smith is firm and tart, and a McIntosh has tender flesh (though some people call it mushy). Ginger Golds are watery, and Rome Beauties are beautiful for pies.

For an extensive list of descriptions, go to the Web site of the U.S. Apple Association at usapple.org. In the meantime, here are some recipes to try.

EASY

Quick Apple Tart

4 medium Georgia apples, peeled, cored and cut in half

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Confectioners' sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut apple halves into 1/16-inch-thick slices and transfer to a large bowl. Add lemon juice and stir to coat apples. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Sprinkle sugar mixture over sliced apples, then stir gently to coat apples. Set aside.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold pastry onto parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to eliminate creases. Arrange apples atop pastry in three rows, overlapping apple slices. Fold over edges of pastry to make corners. Brush apples with melted butter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

If desired, dust with confectioners' sugar before serving.

Serves 9.

Source: Adapted from Gourmet magazine

EASY

Slow Cooker Caramel Apples

2 (14-ounce) bags caramels

1/4 cup water

10 apples, washed and dried

Chopped nuts, chocolate sprinkles, optional

In a slow cooker, combine caramels and water. Cover and cook on high for 20 minutes. Stir, switch to low and begin stirring every 5 to 10 minutes as mixture begins to turn smooth and shiny to prevent scorching around the edges (keep an eye on it to determine how close you are getting).

Meanwhile, place stick into stem end of apples.

When mixture is smooth, dip apples into caramel one at a time, turning to coat entire surface. Spoon caramel over top of the apple. Let excess caramel drip back into the cooker. If desired, roll in nuts or sprinkles before the caramel firms up.

Place apples on wax or parchment paper and refrigerate to set the caramel before eating.

Serves 10.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

MODERATE

Pork Tenderloin With Warm Apple and Cabbage Slaw

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 pork tenderloins (about 2 pounds)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

4 cups red cabbage, sliced into thin strips

2 Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples, peeled, thinly sliced and cut into strips

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries, optional

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly coat a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.

In a bowl, combine mustard and thyme. Cover the pork with mustard mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork on the baking sheet and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 155 degrees. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 1/2-inch pieces.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil. Saute onion for 5 to 8 minutes, or until softened. Add the cabbage and apples and saute for 1 to 2 minutes to combine. Add broth and vinegar and cook until cabbage is tender and almost all the liquid has evaporated, 15 to 20 minutes. Add cranberries and sugar and stir to combine. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve pork slices alongside or over the cabbage mixture.

Serves 8.

Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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