Fall-ing With Apples
In the Pacific Northwest we really do have the very best local apples. My inaugural “ode to fall” dish always involves apples. I really look forward to the first Honeycrisps at the farmers market. Sometimes my ode to fall is sweet, but this year it’s savory due to the bumper mushroom crop! Not only were Chantrells incredibly priced, but the Yukon Gold potatoes looked fantastic! Honeycrisps, mushrooms, Yukon Golds: it’s a combination I couldn’t resist.
I love the Honeycrisp because it balances between the tartness of a Granny Smith, and the sweetness of a Fuji with a texture combining both. And, it’s red, with streaks of gold and green! It just perfectly matches the colors of fall and the bite in the air.
My ode to fall recipe comes from Cory Schreiber’s cookbook “Wildwood: Cooking From The Source In The Pacific Northwest”. After making this over the past few years, I have made my own adjustments. I have added more apple, changed the variety, added mushrooms and occasionally cheese, more thyme, and more potato. What can I say: tinkering is a compulsion!
When I’ve added cheddar or gruyère I mix it into the apple mushroom mix. This addition makes a wonderful comfort-y dish that is more like a gratin. As is, the Mushroom, Apple, Potato Cake is quite light. And I have to admit: I love it cold the next day for breakfast!
Mushroom, Apple, And Potato Cake
(original recipe amounts given in parentheses)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb mixed mushroom including Creminis, Portobellos, Chantrelles, etc. (cremini/protobello)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 Honeycrisps or other tart apples (1 Granny Smith)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme (1 tsp)
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste ( 1 tsp)
3/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 – 2 lbs yellow fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold (1 lb)
Preheat oven to 450°.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over moderately high heat, in 10 inch well seasoned cast iron skillet, until hot but not smoking.
Sauté mushrooms and half the onion stirring until mushrooms are tender and brown. Transfer to a medium bowl and wipe out skillet.
Peel and coarsely grate apple, and stir into mushrooms along with thyme, half the salt, and 1/4 tsp of the pepper.
Peel potatoes, and slice 1/8″ thick (I use my cheapie mandoline). Toss them with remaining onion, salt and pepper.
Fun skillet tricks finish the dish :
Heat remaining olive oil in skillet over moderately high heat.
Add 1/3 of the potato slices in one layer: you will overlap. Top that with 1/2 mushroom mixture spreading evenly. Repeat :potato layer, mushroom layer, and end with potato layer. While you are doing all this, the bottom layer is browning.
Put skillet in the middle of oven, and bake 20-25 min.
Remove skillet from oven, invert a pizza pan or other round platter over skillet and holding firmly, flip potato cake onto platter. Then slide cake, browned side up, back into skillet and continue baking until underside is crusty and potatoes tender when pierced. This takes about 10.
ps. I have even made this in my stainless steel cookware, and it worked great!