It's easy to tell that summer is turning to fall by looking in my fruit bowl. There are still sweet summer peaches to be found at the store, but today I bought some fresh fall apples and added them to the mix.
Sigh. Such a bittersweet time of year.
Well, I'm trying embrace the changing seasons, so for dinner tonight I made a simple family favorite that tastes of golden autumn days.
This little treat is called a Happle Bagel Sandwich, invented by the geniuses at Klutz Press, and it requires only three ingredients. With an option for a fourth. I love recipes with options.
You'll need some bagels, cheddar cheese, and yes, an apple or two. Keep your cinnamon within reach.
Any sort of apple will do. Choose the freshest, crispiest, snappiest ones you can find; I'm very partial to the Granny Smith variety. The first task is to core and slice the apples, which means I get to use one of my favorite specialty tools, the apple corer.
Isn't it amazing how that apple corer punches a perfect hole right through the center of the apple? All the crunchy hard bits and apple seeds are removed, and I'm left with purely delicious apple.
When you can squint at your patio flowers through the center of the apple, then you know you have done it right.
When you are done admiring your flowers, slice the apples. The thinner, the better.
Time to slice some cheddar cheese. Some may say that all cheddar cheeses are created equally, but I am devoted to Tillamook medium. It's got the perfect tangy mellow flavor, and smooth, firm consistency that melts like a dream. Warm or cold, this cheese enhances any dish, and a chunk carved off the block for an emergency snack always satisfies me. Tillamook is a dairy company based in Oregon, whose yummy products are fueled by the world's most contented cows. If you can find these products in your store, do yourself a favor and try them.
Slicing cheese also means I get to use another of my specialty tools, the cheese slicer.
Look at those perfect, even slices of cheese. It took every ounce my self-control not to eat them all up. That cheese slicer of mine sure gets the job done.
Really, I'm not much of a specialty tools person. Most of the time, a good sharp paring knife beats the pants off all the fancy trimming and slicing devices that are constantly being invented and marketed to unsuspecting novice chefs. I understand the temptation of these devices, but honestly, in most cases they are not necessary.
But these two, the apple corer and the cheese slicer, rise head and shoulders above the rest. I make room for them in my kitchen utensil drawer, and along with the humble potato peeler, consider them cooking essentials.
In other words, I give them two big thumbs-up.
Now I will put my thumbs to use in prying apart a few bagels and laying them out on a baking sheet.
These are plain bagels. I've also used 'Everything'-flavored bagels as well as cinnamon raisin bagels with this recipe, to great success. Feel free to use any flavor that will compliment the apples and cheese. That is a highly personal decision and I trust you to choose well.
The layering on of the ingredients is self-explanatory: yeasty bagels, sweet apples, rich cheese.
My family mostly objects to this ingredient, on the sound reasoning that cinnamon is typically associated with sweet foods, and they do not care to see it mixed up on their plates with the flavors of a savory dish.
I can agree to this.
Honestly, I've had mixed feelings about cinnamon since I was a child. As a special and indulgent treat for us, my mom used to buy those loaves of sliced cinnamon bread that come with the icing on top. I knew it was meant to be a big deal, but I didn't really care for it all that much. I just wanted to pick the icing off the top of the whole loaf and leave the rest. So that is what I did. When she was not looking. But she knew it was me and regarded my behavior poorly.
Which is why, to this very day, I resent cinnamon and have no regrets about leaving it off my Happle Bagel Sandwiches.
Alright, cinnamon or not, these pups are ready to leap under the broiler for some toasting and crisping.
When the cheese is toasted golden and delicious, the thinly sliced apples will be soft and warm, and the edges of the bagels will have a crispy crunch. The combination of textures and flavors is playful, comforting and satisfying, perfectly conducive to this late summer/early fall time of year.
Pull them from the oven, and give them a few minutes to cool. Gaze down upon them and repeat after me.
Fall can be quite delicious.
Fall can be quite delicious.
Fall can be quite delicious