Monday, September 17, 2012

The Apple Lover's Cookbook

Apple season is here! Thanks to a warmer-than-usual winter in much of the country, apple season has arrived early this year. And no one understands the versatility and appeal of apples better than Yankee Magazine lifestyle editor Amy Traverso. This virtuoso’s gorgeous apple guide, THE APPLE LOVER’S COOKBOOK [W. W. Norton & Company; 2011; $29.95 hardcover], is the ultimate authority on the all-American fruit.

The heart of this cookbook is 100 delicious and easy to follow recipes, from appetizers to desserts and beverages. Traverso also tells the fascinating history of the apple and offers cooking tips, a list of American apple festivals, a guide to apple products, the best method for peeling and coring an apple, even tips for pairing cheeses and hard ciders. In short, this book is a veritable apple encyclopedia.

But what sets the book apart is a gorgeous primer with dozens of different varieties of apple, each accompanied by a full-color photo and notes on each apple’s appearance, taste, texture, best uses, origin, and availability. Traverso organizes each apple into one of four categories: firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart, and tender-sweet. Each category is best suited to a particular type of dish—a firm-tart apple, for example, is the best choice in richer baked desserts such as apple pie or tarte tatin. Traverso even includes an indispensable, one-page “cheat sheet,” an at-a-glance list of the apple varieties sorted into four columns by category, making it a breeze to pick the right apple for any recipe.

The savory chapters of THE APPLE LOVER’S COOKBOOK hold beautifully imagined creations, like a pork and apple pie with cheddar-sage crust; a creamy apple risotto; and a squash and apple gratin. For an unassailably American dish, there’s the apple cider-brined turkey with applejack-sage gravy. Traverso also presents dinner party favorites like a pan-seared salmon with cider-glazed onions—a hit with both hosts and guests, as its complex flavor belies a deceptively simple preparation.

Readers with a sweet tooth will be delighted by the later chapters, which include pancakes, donuts, pies, cakes, and puddings—classics infused with a modern twist. These delicacies include spiced apple cupcakes, salted caramel apples with cinnamon graham cracker crumbs, and a green apple sauvignon blanc sorbet. Of course, no apple cookbook would be complete without a winning apple pie recipe, and this one includes no less than six mouth-watering standouts. And, Traverso also makes sure to list the best apple varieties to use to make a pie.

Amy Traverso’s passion for apples truly shines in the beautifully crafted essays that open each chapter. She’s crossed the country to learn as much as possible about this storied fruit, speaking to apple growers, cider makers, and every manner of apple enthusiast in between. She’s visited Wenatchee, Washington—the “Apple Capital of the World”—where more than half of U.S. apples are grown. She’s stopped in at Dixon’s Apple Farm, a hidden fruit oasis in the deserts of New Mexico. She’s even made her way to a preservation orchard in Palermo, Maine, where John Bunker discovers and tends “unusual, historic, and high quality” heirloom apples that would otherwise be lost to history.

This exquisite book is an unparalleled guide to fresh, seasonal cooking. It is more than just cookbook: it is an education and culinary revelation. In Amy Traverso’s skilled hands, America’s favorite fruit becomes a versatile kitchen staple. Home chefs, veteran cooks, and apple fanatics alike will find something to savor in THE APPLE LOVER’S COOKBOOK.

Author Amy Traverso is available to discuss THE APPLE LOVER’S COOKBOOK as well as tips, techniques, and ideas for cooking with apples.

Guaranteed 100% Fool-Proof Pie Crust for Beginners
When working on recipes for The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, Traverso tried every known method of making pie crust, from the food processor method to fraisage, with added ingredients from oil to vinegar to vodka. After many experiments, she landed on her favorite recipe, and it requires no odd ingredients, no fancy equipment, just a bowl, some butter, and your fingertips.

Apple Crisp for Everyone
Oat topped, gluten-free, low-carb, and biscuit-topped, Traverso has an apple crisp varation for every kind of eater.

How to Pick the Right Apple for Your Recipe
The biggest challenge in cooking with apples is that even the most conventional supermarket has at least 5 varieties, and they all act differently under heat. So which one do you use for pie and which one is better for salads? Traverso broke 59 varieties of apples down into 4 categories: firm-tart, firm-sweet, tender-tart, and tender-sweet. Each category has best uses, and the book includes a handy cheat-sheet to help you figure out what to do with a Gala versus a Granny Smith versus a Newtown Pippin.

The Rise of Heirloom Apples
In 1905, the USDA produced a catalog of all the known apple varieties grown domestically during the previous century. Their total: 14,000. Over the next hundred years, that number shrank to just a few hundred. But today, apple growers around the country are bringing back heirlooms like Ashmead’s Kernel, Westfield Seek-No-Further, Winter Banana, and Arkansas Black, ripping out acres of Red Delicious trees in favor of these historic beauties. Traverso has a long list of favorites and can recommend the best orchards in America for picking heirlooms.

The Return of Hard Cider
There was a time when cider was the most widely consumed beverage in America, over wine, whisky, even water. Cider was safe, mildly boozy, local, and affordable, and it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it was nudged out of favor by temperance on the one hand and beer on the other. But in the past five years, American cider sales have been growing about 25%, year on year. And new cideries are springing up to meet the need. Traverso has a list of her favorite ciders from around the world and can offer advice on pairing cider with cheese.

Amy Traverso is the senior lifestyle editor of Yankee magazine, and a former food editor at Sunset magazine. Her work has also appeared in The Boston Globe,, and Travel & Leisure, and she has appeared on The Martha Stewart Show, Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares. Her first book, The Apple Lover’s Cookbook, won an IACP cookbook award in the “American” category and was also a finalist for the prestigious Julia Child Award. She edited the award-winning Yankee’s Best New England Recipes and she is currently at work on a follow-up book, Yankee’s Best Lost & Vintage Recipes, to be published by Countryman Press in Spring, 2013. She lives in Brookline, MA.

PUBLICATION DATE: September 2011
ISBN: 978-0-393-06599-2
PRICE: $29.95 hardcover
PAGES: 320
Illustrations: 110 color photographs

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