Seasonal Fall Appetizers with Chef Krista Bleich

Free Form Rustic Apple Tart


Cream Cheese Pastry

8 oz Cream Cheese – Not low fat

1 Cup Unsalted Butter

2 Cups All-Purpose Flour

½ t Salt


Fruit Filling

4 Large or 5 Medium Apples Cortland or Macs or good here – a nice medium soft fall baking apple peeled and sliced about 1/8” thick.

2 T Fresh Lemon Juice

1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar

¾ t Cinnamon

½ t Nutmeg

2 T Flour

¾ Cup Apple Jelly

1/3 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs



1 Egg beaten with 2 t Water

2 T Granulated Sugar


Preheat the oven to 425o


Measure an 18” square piece of foil.  Turn the foil shiny side down, place it on a cookie sheet and sprinkle lightly with flour.


In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the flour and salt.  Cut in the cold butter in pieces about 1 T and cut up the cold cream cheese into about 8 chunks as well.  Allow to sit while you work on the filling.


Slice the apples into a bowl in thin 1/8” slices.  (If they are too thick it will take too long to bake to get the apples tender all the way through and the “tart” will get too dark.)

Add the lemon juice, sugar and spices to the apples.  Toss together and set aside.  Go back to working on your dough.


Your butter and cream cheese in the mixer should still be a little cold.  Attach the beater and mix together until it forms a nice ball of dough.  It won’t take too long to come together.  You still want the butter and cream cheese a little cold so the dough is easy to work with.  Take it out of the mixer and form into a ball.  On a lightly floured surface, sprinkle a little flour and flatten your dough to about a 1” thick flat disk.  Using quick strokes roll the dough out into a large 18” circle.  Picking up the dough as you roll it out so as to not have it stick to the surface which will create holes in your beautiful crust.  Because the dough is still a bit cold from the butter, it should roll out pretty easily.


Slide the foil with the dough in place onto a cookie sheet.  Make a visual 2” border around the rim of the dough, as your fruit is going to be spread only to the edges of that.  But first, within that boarder spread the apple jelly on the rolled out dough, sprinkle with cracker crumbs and then top with the fruit.  Then take your fingers and going around in the circle fold the dough over around onto itself to form the “free form” semi-top crust.

Brush with the egg glaze over the border and sprinkle with granulated sugar.


Bake for 15 minutes then reduce heat to 350o and bake for another 25 minutes.  When pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife the fruit should be tender.

Cool to a wire rack, cut into thin wedges for an appetizer serving.  On the side, serve a thin slice of aged cheddar cheese for a savory treat.


Pear & Mushroom Strudel


1 Cup Finely Chopped Mushrooms

1 Small Yellow Onion, Chopped

½ Cup Butter, divided

2 Pears – Any type of fall pear is great for this recipe – peeled and diced

¾ Cup Shredded Gruyere Cheese (This is a stronger Swiss type cheese)

1/3 Cup Sliced Almonds

1 T Stone-ground Mustard

½ t Salt

¼ t Pepper

10 Sheets Phyllo Dough

1/3 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese – (Not that powdered type in a canister)


In a large skillet, cook mushrooms and onion in 2T of the butter until tender and the onion is translucent.  Stir in the pears and cook for 3 minutes longer.  Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.  Stir in the Gruyere, almonds, mustard salt and pepper.


Melt the remaining butter.  Place one sheet on Phyllo dough on a work surface, brush evenly with butter.  Sprinkle with a bit of parmesan cheese.  Repeat this 4 more times, making sure to keep your phyllo dough that you are not using covered with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out.

Spread half of the pear mixture in a 2” wide strip along the short side of the dough.  Roll up jelly-roll style starting with the pear side.  Pinch seams to seal.  Brush with more melted butter and transfer to 15×10 greased baking sheet.

Repeat and make one more log.

Bake at 375o for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.  Cool for 5 minutes before cutting.


Prairie Sage Potato Crisps


Serves 8


4 Large Baking Potatoes, peeled and sliced very thin

½ # Butter, Melted

32 Fresh Sage Leaves

Salt and White Pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 375.  Lightly butter a large baking sheet.  Select the longer and better looking potato slices and discard any discolored ones.

Place the butter in a small dipping bowl, oval shaped as to be able to dip a potato into length wise.


Dip potato into butter and place on baking sheet.  Top the slice with a sage leave and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper.  Top with another butter-dipped potato to make a sandwich.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times, until crisp and golden brown. Blot on a paper towel before serving.  Serve warm or at room temperature.


Simplest Tomato Salad



3T Olive Oil

4 Scallions

2 # Firm, perfectly ripe garden tomatoes

½ t Sea Salt (or to taste)

Freshly Ground Black Pepper


Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  Add the scallions and sauté for about 5-8 minutes or until the scallions are completely wilted.  Set aside to cool for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in half, squeeze out and discard the pulp.  Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks and place them and a medium sized glass or ceramic bowl.

Add the scallions and still warm oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir gently and serve right away at room temperature.



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