The province of Normandy in north-west France faces the English channel and is a favorite resort area. It is also an extremely rich land that is renowned for its superlative food and traditional dishes.
One finds an abundant use of butter and cream in the cookery, high grade meats from marsh-fed lambs and meadow-fed calves, savory game, a bounty of seafood, flavorful vegetables, wild mushrooms, famed cheeses such as Camembert, Pont-I'Eveque and triple creams - and apples.
Since ancient times Normandy has been a most important apple-growing area and the finest fruit grows in its orchards. Normandy apples have a great reputation in Europe. In Normandy apples are cooked with fish, meat, eggs, in sauces, jellied, candies and especially desserts.
Normandy has no vineyards but its apples are made into a notable cider that is drunk with meals. Dozens of vintage ciders are made with sweet, tart or acid apples. Whether sweet, dry or sparkling, they are appropriate accompaniments for most of the regional dishes.
When distilled, the cider becomes a flavorful apple brandy called Calvados that is drunk not only as a liqueur but between courses at traditional lengthy meals. Hearty eaters enjoy a trou Normande, or a bit of Calvados, as a refresher, Cider and Calvados are used frequently in the characteristic Norman cookery. One well-known dish that includes both is a tripe specialty, tripes a la Mode de Caen.
Among the best Normandy apple dishes are souffle Normande, with apples, Calvados and macaroons; an apple omelet filled with apple marmalade or sauteed apples and cream; an apple ring (bordure de pommes a la Normande), baked vanilla custard filled with apples, topped with whipped cream and served with a Calvados-flavored sauce; apple turnovers; and whole apples cooked in pastry (bourdelots).
Here is a recipe for a excellent Normandy dessert. NORMANDY BAKED APPLES (6 servings) Rich pastry for 2 crust, 8-inch or 9-inch pie 6 medium-tart apples (Rome Beauty, Delicious), cored and pared 6 tablespoons sugar 6 tablespoons butter Ground cinnamon (Optional) 1 egg beaten
Roll out pastry to about 1/3 inch thickness and cut into seven-inch squares. Place an apple in center of six squares of pastry. Knead together the sugar and butter; add cinnamon, if desired. Form sugar-butter mixture into 6 small balls and put one ball in each apple cavity.
Bring opposite points of pastry up over each apple and with the hands mold the pastry around the apples to cover completely. Cut remaining square into six tiny circles and place each on top of apples. Rib outsides of pastry with a fork. Bush tops with beaten egg. Arrange in a shallow baking dish.
Bake in a preheated 425-degree oven for about 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown and apples are cooked through. Serve warm with cream or whipped cream.