Monday, November 24, 2008

Let's Make A Pie!

To me, there is nothing more Thanksgiving than pie. For whatever reason, despite the fact that I love pie at Thanksgiving, it is the only time I ever eat it. Or make it. Maybe if I made pie more often I wouldn't find it necessary to make so many at Thanksgiving. But as it stands now . . . I always make too much pie. Right now I have leftovers from three pies in my fridge and I just baked the fourth pie shell I didn't use yesterday. But I have one specific pie I want to talk about today:
Apple Pie

Fall in NYC means lots and lots of freshly picked apples readily available. I make it a point to stop by the farmer's market in my neighborhood every Wednesday morning and on Saturdays to pick up a few. The stand I frequent generally has samples cut up so I can try the different varieties. They taste so good I often overbuy. Which means I always end up with a few extras lingering around in my fridge. So this year, rather than buying another eight to ten Granny Smiths (like I usually do because Martha claims they are the only baking apples to which I now say whatev!), I gathered up all the leftovers and gave them a good scrub. Including a stray asian pear (I'm addicted to these - if you haven't tried one, go pick one up immediately!). Depending on the size of the apples and how full you want your pie, you need 8 to 10. Next up, I use an apple corer and just slice them up, then use a knife to peel off the skin. Tasting a few of the skins along the way because they are a tasty snack. If you are super skilled with the knife you can do that trick where you peel the skin off in one long strand . . . I can't do that (despite trying with the pear).
Next I slice the apples into thinner pieces. Essentially, as thin as I can slice them while still remaining in control of my knife. Throw all the thin slices in a big bowl.
Now, these next few steps are optional. I just got a little crazy this year and decided to do something different. I rinsed off a carton of raspberries (an impulse buy at Whole Foods - they were on sale and looked delicious!):
And tossed them in with the apples. . . just to see how they would play together.
Then I pulled some blueberries out of the freezer . . . fresh blueberries were my addiction this summer so it was hard to part with the last of my stash but honestly I put them to excellent use.
I mean, how beautiful do the berries look with the apples? I almost got crazy enough to throw in some cranberries or pomegranate seeds I had on hand but decided to keep it a little simple for this experiment.
Now add a 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup sugar
And 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. If you have an actual lemon (I used mine all up in the turkey brine the night before unfortunately), it is best to zest that peel right into the mix and then squeeze out all the juice. But . . . I didn't quite plan ahead that well and didn't have any fresh lemons left.
Mix it all together and admire how beautiful and delicious it all looks. Then add some spices. I like 1 - 2 teaspoons (or more) of cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon or so of nutmeg and some ground cloves - but just a couple of shakes (sorry, no photos of the spices).
At this point you should have already made some pie crust. Did I forget to mention that part? This recipe isn't really so much about the crust so I will send you to Pie Crust 101 for instructions and a recipe. I'll wait right here while you do that. But the beauty of the pie crust is that mixing it together takes no time. And once you mix it together you can put your little lump (or disc) of pastry wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge or the freezer until you are ready to do something with it. It actually gets better with spending some time to solidify in the fridge for a bit. I made mine during the half-time of the Utah game Saturday night (12-0 . . . WOOHOO!) and left it in the fridge over night. I should mention that since this pie has both a bottom and a top crust you will need to make enough pie dough for two regular pies or the deep dish pate brisee recipe I linked above. Make fun all you want but Martha generally knows what is what.
Below you can see my beautiful pie crust all pressed into the pan. I should also mention here that - while expensive - that rolling mat you see under my pie revolutionized my baking. Seriously. Just a little flour and things roll without sticking. It is a major improvement over my prior method of taping wax paper to the countertop and hoping it doesn't lodge free and start moving around as I rolled (it often did). Best $50 I have spent on a baking gadget. Oh, this sounds like something I can add to that gift idea list I'm supposed to write . . .
Back to the pie. Add the apple/blueberry/raspberry mix to the shell (oh, and remember the raspberries and blueberries are completely optional here). Dice up a couple of tablespoons of unsalted butter and sprinkle them along the top of the pie.
Now back to the crust. You should still have one more ball of dough to roll out. Once you have it all rolled out evenly, it is time to make the lattice strips. I picked up this fun little gadget to help me. But really, it just looks fancy and a knife works pretty much the same. Or you could probably just use a pizza slicer if you have one. No need to get lured in thinking you will have a pretty crimped edge with that fancy wheel (like I did). You can't see it in the end for some reason anyway. So with whatever utensil you have on hand, slice your pastry into strips about 1 to 2 inches in width.
Then weave them onto the top of your pie. This looks super fancy and beautiful but it is very easy. I start with a long piece down the center in each direction and just add one at a time in each direction working toward the outside of the pie.
Trim the overlap and crimp the edges to blend the lattice top into the bottom crust. Then beat an egg and use a pastry brush (or a bunched up paper towel works if you don't have one!) to coat the top of the crust and edges with the egg - this is called an "egg wash" and makes your pie crust shiny! You can also sprinkle some sugar on top for a bit of sparkle (forgot to take a pic of that part too).
The beauty of this pie is, once assembled, you can put it in the fridge or even freeze it until you are ready to bake it. I put this one in the oven while we were eating dinner. To bake: heat the oven to 375 and bake it for an hour or until it looks something like this (the filling should be all bubbly):
I should warn you that you will want to eat this pie directly out of the oven with a dollop of freshly whipped cream quickly melting on top. Feel free to do so - we did. But, for best results, you should let the pie cool and set for an hour or two. Otherwise, the juices are still really soupy and it becomes difficult to serve. Luckily, pie lovers are a forgiving bunch and eagerly ate it up, despite the soupiness.


Annie said...

maybe you could just come to my house and make one for me to take. looks delicious!!!

David said...

There should be a rule against showing such goodies in detail - now I want pie for lunch.

autumn said...

Okay, so I've just bought my plane a slice for me! Delicious.

katie said...

I'm drooling.

michele said...

mmm pie

Tiffany said...

I gained seven pounds reading this. AND I LIKED IT!

hovergirl said...

I don't even like pie, and I think this looks like nectar. happy tday to you and LOVE always

lizzie said...

wow! if i wasn't cooking my own thanksgiving feast this year for the first time, i would attempt to make this. maybe. instead, i will settle for marie calendar's frozen pies (on sale for 3.99)--not nearly as good. oh well.

Beck said...

Look at that pie! That's gorgeous! You should do more food posts, you talented gal.

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