Well last weekend Naomi and I went west in order to go apple pickin'. McHenry county has quite a bit of apple orchards but unfortunately Naomi and I waited to the last possible month, one could wait, to go apple pickin'. Luckily a few orchards still had some late season varieties and some apple cider left for us.
Our first stop was to All Seasons Farm Nursery & Landscape, which is a large orchard with all the bells and whistles; hayrides, mazes, cafeteria, and so much more. Last year we went to this one at the height of the season and left without anything due to the crowds. Yet, this year no crowds, no waits, and much cheaper apples. Our next stop was to Prairie Sky Orchard where we bought some more Jonagold and some honey crisp. This orchard was more to our liking; small, pleasant, and a homier feel. Lastly, we stopped at Homestead Orchard and actually picked apples off of the trees. This orchard was by far my favorite of the three. Here the owners were having a special which basically amounted to buy one peck of apples get another peck free. Needless to say we picked two pecks and ended up with 24 obs. of apples just from this orchard. At Homestead Orchards we picked Galas, Empires, Golden Blushings, McIntosh, Braeburn and Winesap varieties. By the end of the day we had a trunk full of apples, a couple gallons of cider, and a busy couple of days cooking ahead of us (by us I mostly mean Naomi).
Later that day Naomi began making apple sauce and apple butter. Both of these recipes can be found in the Ball canning book. Yet the main difference in apple sauce and apple butter appears to be in cooking time. The apple butter is cooked for longer in order, I guess, to give it a thicker texture. That night we also had apple pie and an apple/leek pastry for dinner and just to complete the theme a bit of apple cider to wash it all down with.
Apple/Leek Cheese Pastry
2-3 medium size apples
1 medium size leek
(In actuality there should be an equal amount of apples and leeks)
2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
Pinch of Pepper
1 Thawed Package of Phyllo dough
Start by coring and slicing the apples--We have an apple corer that does an awesome job with this. If you don't have one and are going to cook with apples I suggest that you get one. Life becomes so much easier.
Then slice the leeks into pieces of equal size to the apples.
Put the oil into the skillet and then heat the pan to medium heat.
Put the apples and leeks into the pan and the season lightly with pepper. Stir the contents of the pan occasionally and cook until the apples and leeks are soft.
While the apples and leeks are cooking shred about three cups of cheddar cheese and then put it into a large bowl.
After the contents of the pan are cooked put them into the bowl with the cheese. Next stir the mixture until every thing is mixed thoroughly.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Put a sheet of Phyllo dough onto a sheet pan and then brush half of it with olive oil. Then fold in half so the unoiled part is folded into the oiled part. Now brush half of that with olive oil and then fold again. Now you should be down to a quarter of the original sheet. Place a spoonful(s) of the apple, leek, cheese mixture into the center of the phyllo dough. Now fold up the edges as you would with an egg roll wrapper. Place the finish pastry onto an oiled sheet pan.
Repeat the above step until you run out of the apple, leek, cheese mixture. Then place the sheet pan into the oven and cook for approximately 30 minutes or until they are golden brown.