FOOD: A Crisp Fall Morning
With today being the Autumnal Equinox, thoughts may be wandering toward apples and pears – the seasonal fruit of Fall. We celebrated Fall last weekend with kids and Apple Crisp at the Falls Church Farmers Market Demonstration. Our guest chef was Bonnie Moore, who is now the Culinary and Agricultural Director at Willowsford in Loudoun County.
Bonnie was a natural in the farmers market as she has spent the last 25 years as a chef, and educator focused on the culinary arts, healthy eating and connecting farms with families. Formerly the executive sous chef at the Inn at Little Washington, she is in demand as an instructor at L’Academie de Cuisine, Sur la Table and Blackberry Farm and she has traveled internationally to conduct food demonstration classes and cooking workshops as part of food aid programs. Throughout the morning, many of Bonnie’s previous culinary students stopped by to say hello.
Willowsford is a new community in Loudoun County that connects residents with the farm and local food. The community comprises of 4,000 acres of which 2,000 acres have been put into open space conservancy. Within the remaining 2,000 acres are communities of new homes, a lake and 200 acres of the Willowsford farm along with open space filled with hiking and recreational areas. The community provides many opportunities to connect with the local food. All residents can participate in a CSA – Community Supported Agriculture – where they pick up their shares twice a week at the community center. With the farm share comes a newsletter talking about the Farm news, highlights about the food in the CSA share and recipes. There is a notebook that is included which illustrates what food each season and the food that comes from the farm. Even if the residents don’t choose to participate in the CSA, there is a Saturday morning Farm Stand that features the local produce and bakery items provided by Kate Jensen of Willow featuring ingredients from the farm. Residents can volunteer on the farm or wander through the demonstration garden which grows asparagus, raspberries, and crab apples just for starters along with other seasonal produce or cover crops. Later this year the community will break ground on two demonstration kitchens that will feature cooking classes on local seasonal food. October 6th they will be featuring the Taste of Willowsford with barbecue, bluegrass, wine tastings and farm tours.
Throughout the morning’s demonstration, Bonnie invited kids to come help her assemble the crisp, mix the topping and put the finishing touches on the crisp. We had several kids help throughout the morning including enthusiastic Nathan and fresh from her soccer win Caroline. Bonnie shares, “This is a great recipe to make with kids. Have the kids help you peel the apples. Then while you core and slice them, have the kids blend the ingredients for the walnut topping together with their fingers – they love this step.”
For the apple filling:
6 firm, tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons water
For the walnut topping:
½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 cup flour
6 tablespoons brown sugar
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, ¼ cup of brown sugar and flour. Turn the mixture into a large, 2” deep baking dish or several smaller baking dishes. Sprinkle with water.
- In a separate bowl, combine the walnuts, flour, remaining brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Work the butter pieces in with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Pour the mixture over the apples and press lightly to fit it all into the baking dish.
- Place the crisp on a cookie sheet and bake until it is golden brown and bubbly around the edges of the dish, about 45 minutes. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Pear-Hazelnut Crisp Variation: We love combining the sweetness of apples with crunchy walnuts. Try using Bosc, Bartlett or d’anjou pears instead of apples and use hazelnuts instead of walnuts.
1 ½ cups cold heavy cream
1 teaspoon confectioner’s sugar, or to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or to taste
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the cream, sugar and vanilla together until soft peaks form. Be careful not to over whip and turn the cream to butter! Chill in the refrigerator until ready to use.
By Kathleen Nixon
September 21, 2012