Every fall, I look forward to the reopening of the local orchards and country shops selling seasonal treats. I recently made a run to my favorite spot, Riverview Orchards, and chatted with the owner, Isabel Prescott, who reminded me how fleeting this season is: Only one month remains for apple picking! Over hot cider and apple cider doughnuts, Prescott shared some of her best apple know-how:

  • Best apple for a pie: Northern Spy, which Isabel calls “the Cadillac of pie apples.”
  • Best apple for sauce: A mix. Using a combination of four or five different apples such as Cortlands, Empires, Golden Delicious, Macoun, and McIntosh will add immensely to the flavor of the sauce.
  • Best apple for a salad: Cortland, because they stay white for a long time — tossing the apples in lemon, often necessary with other apple varieties, can change their flavor.
  • Apple picking tips: 1) Twist or snap up — don’t pull towards you or they’ll all come crashing down; 2) the larger apples tend to be closer to the trunk, though size doesn’t mean much; 3) generally, the richer the color, the sweeter the apple.
  • The best way to store apples: 33 degrees F — as cold as possible without freezing. Store your apples in the fridge in plastic perforated bags. They’ll keep for months.
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Alexandra Stafford

Most of the apples in my kitchen find their way into pies, butters, and sauces. But recently, while flipping through Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi, I happened upon a striking image: a blistered flatbread topped with layers of glistening, whisper-thin apple slices. Extreme wanderlust is a sensation I’ve come to expect when perusing any of Greenspan’s books, but never have I felt more moved to pack my bags.

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Alexandra Stafford

I turned the page and read the inspiration behind the recipe, the tarte flambé at Flamme & Co, a restaurant in Alsace that bakes the regional specialty in ferociously hot wood-burning ovens. Classically, tarte flambé is made with fresh cheeses, cured meat, and raw onions, but Flamme & Co serves both sweet and savory versions.

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Alexandra Stafford


Greenspan’s passage sent me on an Alsatian pizza-making bender. I soon discovered that the union of tangy crème fraîche, sweet onion, and smoky bacon needs nothing more.

But the combination lends itself to countless variations: mustard greens, crisped and charred, provide spicy contrast to the creamy crème fraîche; delicata squash slices, briefly blanched, melt into the dough, their sweetness offsetting the bacon’s saltiness; apples, sliced on a mandoline, soften in a screaming hot oven and emerge with edges ruffled like campanelle pasta.

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Alexandra Stafford

I’ll still make pies and cakes this apple season, but this savory use has proven to be a welcome addition to the fall dinner rotation. And, more importantly, it has subdued my longing to move to eastern France — for now, that is.

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Alexandra Stafford

Savory Apple Tarte Flambé

Serves 2

1 to 2 teaspoons grape-seed, canola, or olive oil
8 ounces pizza dough (I use the Lahey no-knead dough)
1/4 cup crème fraîche
1 slice bacon, uncooked, finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion
1/4 cup grated Gruyère or Comté
1 apple, thinly sliced on a mandoline
2 teaspoons sugar

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.