There's more to "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" than just a cute rhyme.
Apples are fat-, sodium- and cholesterol-free. Research has proven they help prevent certain types of cancer and heart disease. The newest studies even indicate that apples can improve the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease and potentially decrease the risk for developing it, according to the U.S. Apple Association. Best of all, you'll find that satisfying crunch and crisp burst of flavor with every bite of this tree-ripened fruit.
"Fall is my favorite time of year. After all, who doesn't like apples?" asked Susan Moses, owner/chef at 212 Market restaurant.
Last week, Moses created an apple cake for Gems of Chattanooga Cuisine, a program at Hunter Museum of American Art, using the work of abstract expressionist Kenneth Noland as her inspiration.
"Noland rose to prominence in the 1960s, becoming best known as a radical Color Field painter and a leader of the minimalist movement. His basic formula was horizontal lines of color interacting with each other.
"I used apples to tie (the cake) into the culinary gems we have right here -- apples. I used a maple buttercream to paint the entire cake and washed it in other colors and chocolate to make it resemble the Noland piece," Moses explained.
The restaurant supports the farm-to-table movement using locally grown produce from Wheeler's Orchard in Dunlap, Tenn. Wheeler's Orchard is a small family-run farm that was planted in spring 1976 by Wade Wheeler Sr.
"We focus on apples in the fall," said Moses. "We have an apple-brandy compote that we serve with a sautéed chicken, butternut and kale risotto, and we also have braised red cabbage with apples. We're serving apple cake, and we do a lot of apple pies and tarts."
At home, parents can make apples a fun food, and kids will forget they're good for them.
Try making Apple Smiles with children. Take two wedge-shaped slices, and spread peanut butter along one side of each slice. Let kids put miniature marshmallows along the peanut butter to create "teeth." Press the two slices together to form a smiling set of lips.
Disney Fun suggests letting kids make apple suckers. Cut an apple into wedges, or use a melon baller to cut round pieces from an apple. Insert a sucker stick in each apple wedge or ball, then let children dip them in melted chocolate, caramel sauce or sprinkles.
Show children how to make dried apples with this idea from local nonprofit Gaining Ground. Spread apple slices in a single layer on a baking sheet, dusting with cinnamon. Dehydrate the slices by baking them for two hours on low temperature.
Susan Moses shared two of 212 Market's apple recipes with readers today. Note that the apple spice cake uses no eggs, which she said makes it very light and moist.
Contact Susan Pierce at email@example.com or 423-757-6284.
Apple Spice Cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg
2 cups buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons apple brandy
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups grated apple (squeeze out some of the juice and reserve for compote recipe)
Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in another bowl. Fold the wet into the dry, and bake in prepared pans at 350 F. until knife comes out clean when cake is punctured.
Ice with favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting.
Wheeler Orchard Apple Brandy Compote
2 cups apple juice
1 ounce brandy
Juice of half a lemon
1 stick cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
Pinch of salt and few turns of fresh pepper
8 medium apples, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup Craisins (optional)
Combine all the liquid and spices, and bring to a boil. Add apples and Craisins. Return to a boil, and simmer until tender and mixture thickens, about 20 minutes.
Note: The restaurant has been using red Rome Beauties to make the compote so far but will switch to Fuji apples soon.
-- Susan Moses, 212 Market
Fresh from the Orchard
* Apple Valley Orchard
351 Weese Road, Cleveland, Tenn. Seven varieties available. Open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday, noon-6 p.m. Sunday. 423-472-3044
* Fairmount Orchard
2204 Fairmount Pike, Signal Mountain. Nine varieties available. Open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily. 886-1226
* Wheeler's Orchard
956 Wheeler Road, Dunlap, Tenn. Six varieties available. Open 8 a.m.-dark Monday-Saturday, noon-dark Sunday. 423-949-4255
* Cleveland Apple Festival
Downtown Cleveland, Tenn., 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 1-6 p.m. Sunday. Two-day pass $6 adults, $4 children; one-day ticket $4 adults, $3 children. Apples from Apple Valley Orchards. clevelandapplefestival.org.
* Ellijay Apple Festival
Ellijay Lions Club Fairgrounds, 1729 S. Main St., Ellijay, Ga., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, $5 ages 11 and older. Apples from seven orchards in the Ellijay area, 22 varieties available. georgiaapplefestival.org.