Roald Dahl’s 100th birthday celebration blog tour stops here today at Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia for a Fantastic Mr. Fox-themed food celebration. Newly-redesigned paperback editions of Fantastic Mr. Fox and other Roald Dahl favorites are available from Puffin (Penguin Young Readers). Stay tuned until the end of the post for a giveaway of all 15 re-released editions and a special tote bag!
One of the first times I have a really vivid memory of someone other than my mother reading aloud to me is when my first grade teacher read Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach to my class. That book is quite an adventure, but it also features a lot of eating. My first thought (to this day!) when I remember the story is that I don’t know if I’d ever get sick of eating peaches. I might have been a perennially hungry child, can you tell?
Fantastic Mr. Fox didn’t reach quite as mainstream a status as that until Wes Anderson turned it into a stop-motion film (which I loved). When I was considering what to do to celebrate Roald Dahl’s birthday week, I couldn’t pass the book itself up. It is the PERFECT. FALL. EATING. BOOK. I mean the whole thing revolves around Mr. Fox stealing chickens, geese, ducks, turkeys, cider, and so on to feed his family. There’s even a huge community feast at the end! And if you open any recent cookbook about seasonal eating, apples, ducks and chicken will figure prominently in the autumn sections. It was meant to be.
While Fantastic Mr. Fox doesn’t specifically mention applesauce, one of the farmers (Bean, the cleverest one) is an apple farmer, and he subsists solely on gallons of strong apple cider. My applesauce recipe has non-alcoholic cider in it, so we’re going to call it good and say I stayed on theme, okay? Okay. The upside of all of this is that the recipe is ridiculously easy to make, so you too can have a delicious fall- and Dahl-inspired meal too (if you want).
Charred Applesauce with Yogurt (adapted from a recipe in XX Dinners)
4 apples, any kind, but maybe stick to sweeter varieties – I used Pink Lady
1/4 cup sparkling apple cider
1 cinnamon stick
pinch of salt
pumpkin seeds, toasted (optional)
yogurt, your favorite kind – I like plain, low-fat
Set the oven to broil and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Wash the apples (and make sure to remove any produce stickers!) and place them on the sheet on a top rack right under the broiler. Watch and turn the apples every 2-3 minutes, but let charred bits bubble up on the skin.
After you’ve turned the apples 4-5 times and have a few charred spots, lower oven temperature to 400 degrees F and bake for another 10 minutes. Before removing from oven, check with a skewer to see if apples are soft. Skewer should slide through apple easily. If it doesn’t, bake another 5 minutes and test again. Once the apples are done, remove from oven until cool enough to handle.
Use your fingers to separate the skins from the flesh and set aside (the skin separated from the flesh while I was baking the apples, so this step was really easy), and remove the core, stem, and seeds with a spoon or your fingers again. Place the apple flesh in a medium-sized bowl, mash to your liking (if at all), and add cider. Stir just to combine.
Chop up some of the charred skin and add to the bowl. Grate in cinnamon to taste – for me that’s about 2/3 of the cinnamon stick, and also add the pinch of salt. Mix, and you’re done!
If you won’t eat it all in one go (it’s also good on pork, chicken & duck!), refrigerate the remainder in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
To make the yogurt dish, simply layer the yogurt and applesauce in a bowl to your liking, and sprinkle with toasted pumpkin seeds. I made toasted the pumpkin seeds by layering half a handful on a baking sheet with one spritz of baking spray and placing under the broiler for one minute (okay 2, I like them very crispy!) after I finished baking the apples. Add honey or other toppings to taste!
Recommended for: a taste of fall in your morning routine, and a good way to use up extra apples from that apple picking trip you have coming up.
Enter to Win the Roald Dahl 100 Celebratory Prize Pack! (Ends Sep. 19)
Interested in other food-related posts? Check out Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking!
Fine print: I received a copy of Fantastic Mr. Fox from the publisher for review consideration. I did not receive any compensation for this post. Giveaway and giveaway prize under the direction of the publisher.