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October 2004
Apple Pickins

Recipes by Joshua Ploeg

Hey Kids,
This month, as promised, I deliver a trio of scintillating recipes involving that complex (but too often taken for granted) slice of Americana—the apple!

Multiple layers of intense culinary thought, intricate flavor combinations full of pensive subtlety, and unusual yet effective plans for the apple’s future will help you all to survive (or perhaps even triumph over) the political season filled with the screeching of surly simpletons, dull platitudes and one-sided hawkish lambasting.

Whenever you feel like our fellow citizens are not exercising enough brain power during this cycle, or that they are blinded by the power of fear, you may increase your own candle power with these intelligent dishes and then, reinvigorated in spirit, head out there and kick as much knowledge as you can-can!

This next recipe consists of a curious but delicious combination of ingredients. I have chosen Braeburn apples for this because they can be sweet and piquant, mealy and firm—all at once. They blend with the flavor of red wine vinegar particularly well. You will need to exercise your own taste and judgment when applying some of the seasonings—trust in thyself! Sweet soy sauce is sometimes a combination with molasses, but if you have trouble finding such a thing, your best teriyaki sauce will do.

Four Friends
2 or 3 Braeburn Apples
2 or 3 Japanese Eggplants
1 Bunch Spinach Leaves, washed
1 lb. Extra Firm Tofu, drained
1 C. Cornmeal mixed with Chili Powder and Salt
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
3 T. Olive Oil
1 T. Sugar
1 T. Red Wine Vinegar
1 t. Onion Powder
1 t. Powdered Ginger
1 t. Fines Herbes
1 t. Whole Cumin Seeds, toasted
Sweet Soy Sauce
Apple Cider
Balsamic Vinegar
Lemon Juice
Garlic Paste
Pinch Chili Flakes
Salt and Pepper

1. Grease a 10” round casserole, and preheat oven to 375°.

2. Cut tofu in half lengthwise and thinly slice. Marinate in a shallow dish with the soy sauce, apple cider and garlic paste (you may apply this with a brush). Set aside.

3. Coat the spinach leaves with sweet soy sauce, salt and pepper, and lay them in the casserole. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the minced garlic and toasted cumin seeds. Dust the spinach with the seasoned cornmeal.

4. Slice the eggplants very thinly and coat with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice—set aside.

5. Core and dice the apples. Mix them with some lemon juice, fines herbes, onion powder, ginger, sugar, red wine vinegar and salt, and lay on top of the spinach.

6. Heat 2 T. of olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté the tofu slices in batches, turning once, until browned on both sides. Lay the tofu on top of the apples in the casserole.

7. Lay the eggplant slice over this—you may spoon some leftover marinade on top of the whole affair if you wish.

8. Bake for 40 minutes.

The following recipe makes good use of the versatile Gala. A swell recipe for a basic pizza crust is also included.

Apple Pizza
The Crust
2 C. Unbleached White Flour
2/3 C. Warm Water
1 T. Sugar
1 T. Olive Oil
1/2 T. Salt
1 Envelope Dry Active Yeast

1. Mix yeast in a bowl with warm water, sugar and oil. Allow yeast to activate for a few minutes.

2. Add flour and salt and make into a sticky ball of dough. Cover and let rise for two hours.

3. Punch down and knead on a cornmeal-dusted board. Roll out to fit a large, lightly greased pizza pan (this will fit an 18” pan or stone).

4. Place the crust in the pan and preheat the oven to 400°. Follow the remaining instructions and dress the pizza accordingly.

The Red Sauce
1/ 2 C. Basic Red Pizza Sauce
1 T. Powdered Ginger
1 T. Dijon Mustard
Red Wine, a dash

The Toppings
1 C. Vegan “Bacon”, chopped
1 Red Onion, sliced
1/ 2 C. Kalamata Olives, chopped
1 Handful Fresh Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, Basil and Tarragon), chopped
Olive Oil to drizzle
Balsamic Vinegar to drizzle
Garlic Powder for sprinkling
Pinch of Sugar
Salt to sprinkle

Marinated Apples
2 Gala Apples, cored, thinly sliced, and marinated in:
Fresh Herbs to taste
Salt to taste
Olive Oil
Sugar to taste
Powdered Ginger to taste
Tamari to taste
Lemon Juice to taste
Balsamic Vinegar to taste

1. Spread the red sauce on your pizza dough (in the pan), sprinkle with garlic powder and drizzle with olive oil.

2. Lay the vegan bacon and onions down on this, followed by the marinated apples and herbs and then the olives.

3. Sprinkle with salt and a bit of sugar, and sprinkle with some balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

4. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes. It may take a bit less time or a bit longer depending on whether you use a stone or pan and how wet your other ingredients are.

For this next recipe, Granny Smith was the obvious choice. Fans of sweet and sour will adore this one. Tamarind is fantastic, and knowing how to process the pods yourself is an excellent skill to acquire.

Apple Pudding and Chocolate-Tamarind Mousse Parfait
2 Granny Smith Apples
3 Tamarind Pods (make sure the flesh is not moldy or dried out)
1 Box Vegan Lemon Gelatin (Kosher Gel works here)
2 C. Water or Vegan Milk
1 Tub of Vegan Cream Cheese
1 Pint Apple Juice
12 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate
3/4 C. Sugar
1 T. Cider Vinegar (try raspberry if you can get it, otherwise stick with apple)
2 T. Sweetened Lime Juice
2 T. Lemon Juice
1 T. Margarine or Oil
1 T. Corn Syrup
2 t. Vanilla

1. Prepare the tamarind pods by cracking open and peeling off the shells, and pulling out the fibers. Cut the pulp away from the seeds using a knife. You will be able to tell that you have cut all the way in by the sound and feel of the knife hitting the seed itself, then you will be able to open the incision and slip the pulp off with your fingers.

2. After you have accomplished this, soak the pulp in 1 C. water or vegan milk for a few hours. Then purée this mixture with 1/4 C. sugar and the lime juice. Set aside.

3. Melt the chocolate with corn syrup and margarine or oil in a double boiler. When smooth, gently and slowly whisk in the tamarind mixture until incorporated.

4. Remove from heat and add 1 t. vanilla, then blend in the vegan cream cheese and chill until ready to use.

5. Simmer the chopped apples in the other cup of water or vegan milk with 1/4 C. of sugar for 5 minutes. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then purée the mixture with 1 t. vanilla, cider vinegar and the lemon juice. You may add a bit of cinnamon, ginger or cardamom (or all three!) if you wish. Set aside.

6. Bring the apple juice to a boil with the last 1/4 C. of sugar and add the gelatin. Mix in the apple purée and whisk until well incorporated. Remove from heat and chill.

7. I like to freeze the apple mixture for 1 hour before I compose this dessert. Place some of the chocolate-tamarind mousse into a parfait glass and spoon some of the applesauce pudding over this. Decorate with lemon peel and chocolate or white chocolate-dipped apple slices for extra excitement.

I hope this gets you through the season. Please vote wisely, vote well and vote often! And remember, the apple belongs to all of us, even though now we understand it better than most!

Much love from my wild imagination.

Recipe of the month, tour information and occasional political diatribe: Contact Joshua at His cookbooks are available at



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