Apples are at the core of many holiday treats

Despite the numerous “new” fruits that are part of the holiday table, the familiar apple is the most identifiable with the Jewish New Year.

Although apples are available all year, they are freshly harvested with the holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. A platter of sliced apples accompanied by a dish of honey begins each meal of the Days of Awe. As one of the prayers for the New Year says, “May it be your will to renew for us a good and sweet year.”

Poets and storytellers of many lands have praised the beauty of apple trees in blossom and the goodness of the fruit. It’s no wonder that this legendary fruit is the apple of every cook’s eye.

Apple-Endive Salad | Serves 6

3 heads Belgian endive, cored and thinly sliced
4 cups watercress
3 red or golden delicious apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped
3 oz. crumbled bleu cheese
2 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine dressing ingredients until well blended. In a large bowl combine remaining ingredients, toss with dressing and salt and pepper to taste.

Apple Cake | Serves 10

4 cups cored and coarsely chopped apples (about 5)
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped almonds
confectioners’ sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch round cake pan. Combine apples and sugar in a medium bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Combine oil with eggs and add to apples.
In another bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, baking soda and salt. Stir into apple mixture. Add vanilla and almonds. Pour into prepared pan and bake until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
Cool on a rack about 20 minutes before turning out. Invert onto a serving platter and dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup | Serves 4-6

1/2 medium onion, chopped
white and pale green parts of 1 large leek, chopped fine and washed well (about 1 cup)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 bay leaf
1 1/4 lbs. butternut squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
1 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled and chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup apple cider or water, plus additional for thinning soup
2 Tbs. sour cream or crème fraîche
chopped, unpeeled red apple
In a heavy saucepan, heat oil and cook onion, leek, garlic and bay leaf with salt and pepper to taste, stirring until softened. Add squash, tart apple, broth and 1/2 cup cider or water. Simmer mixture, covered, until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes, and discard bay leaf.
In a blender purée mixture in batches, transferring as puréed to a clean saucepan, and add enough additional water to thin soup to desired consistency.
Whisk in sour cream or crème fraîche and salt and pepper to taste and heat soup over moderately low heat until hot (do not boil).
Serve soup topped with chopped apple.