Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

Apples everywhere lead to standby apple favorites-apple pie, apple crisp, you know. Here you'll find a few new twists when cooking with the fall/winter favorite. A salad with tints of fall from grilled sweet potatoes and apples is hearty and fulfilling. The plum vinaigrette may yield a rather bright hue of pink but is scrumptious, all the same.

The soup is absolutely delightful and you may want to make a double batch to freeze a portion. It incorporates the old world technique of dry roasting whole spice seeds and then grinding fresh to yield the epitome of spice flavor.

For dessert, the highly-respected shares the tipsy apple cake from a gal in Maryland-of all places. Let us know how you liked it!

Grilled Sweet Potato and Apple Salad With Plum Vinaigrette

Salad serves 4

Makes about 1 cup vinaigrette

  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon fresh mint, minced
  • 1 large plum, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 medium Honeycrisp or Gala apples, cored, cut into bite size wedges
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2- inch thick rounds
  • 4 loosely packed cups mixed baby lettuces and spinach
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut halves

For the vinaigrette: In a food processor, add the garlic, mint and plum; pulse to puree. Add the 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.(This can be made up to 2 days in advance.)

Heat the grill to high.

For the salad: Mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil with the remaining 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, honey, a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Toss with the apples and sweet potatoes, and let marinate while the grill is heating.

Remove the apples and sweet potatoes from the marinade, and grill them until golden grill marks appear, about 3 minutes per side. Let cool slightly.

Toss greens with vinaigrette, arrange grilled apple wedges on top, sprinkle with nuts and serve immediately.

Curried Coconut Apple Lentil Soup

Serves 8

Curried apple lentil soup, perfumed by the exotic scent of coconut milk, coriander, cumin and ginger provides satisfaction and nourishment in a single, humble bowl. Quick sauteed and caramelized apple slices add a nice texture as a garnish.

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seed
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 cups diced fresh apple
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 cups coconut milk (not light)
  • Garnish: 2 apples, cut into wedges and sauteed

Heat a Dutch oven over a medium high heat until hot, then toss in coriander and cumin seeds, stirring constantly until well-toasted, about two minutes. Remove the toasted spices from the skillet and crush by hand with a mortar and pestle or grind in a spice grinder.

Pour soaked, rinsed and drained lentils and split peas into the pot with vegetable stock, apples, ginger root and soy sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer the soup until the lentils and split peas are cooked through, about 35 minutes.




Puree the soup with a food processor, immersion blender or blender, then stir in coconut milk and continue simmering about ten minutes.

Serve hot. Top each bowl of soup with a few sauteed apple slices.


Rum-Raisin Apple Cake

Makes 12 servings

Selma Hurwitz of Potomac, Maryland, writes: "I'm an artist, and I think that without question cooking is very creative. You can't be afraid to experiment in the kitchen. I often get ideas from cookbooks and recipes from friends, and I'll add my own touches. The apple cake is inspired by a cookbook from Michigan — I just added more rum and spices. This version is great for company and freezes beautifully."

  • 1/2 cup dark rum
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 large Fuji apples (about 2 pounds), peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup golden raisins

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan. Boil rum in heavy small saucepan until reduced to 1/4 cup. Set aside.

Sift next 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat rum, sugar, eggs, oil, and vanilla in large bowl until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Add flour mixture; beat just until blended. Stir in apples, walnuts, and raisins. Transfer batter to prepared pan.

Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack. Cut into squares and serve.



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