Apple Pie (with homemade, flaky crust)

This is what happens when it’s fall: you break out your tall, brown boots.  You buy that army green vest you’ve been eyeing at the Gap for a while, hoping maybe the Husband might just spring it on you but then you get the coupon in the mail, and oh, whoops, I’ve just conveniently bought it for myself.  You get overly excited about the fact that you can now turn off the air conditioning, open the windows, and stick it to Pepco.

Also: you decide it’s time to go apple picking and bring home 32.8 pounds of apples.  That’s right.  32.8 pounds.  The nice lady only charged us for 32 pounds.  Probably because she felt badly for my husband, who had to carry them, and who definitely was the smart one asking “do we really need another apple?” while my sister, sister-in-law, and I announced that we had found the perfect addition.

We spent all of Sunday baking.  We made only a very small dent.  Expect more apples on the blog.

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Apple Pie

for the crust (this will make a top and bottom crust):

  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 stick cold butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3-4 tablespoons ice water

for the pie:

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar, plus a pinch for dusting the top of the pie
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 5-6 tart apples (we’ve got more Pink Ladies than we will ever eat.  Let me know if you live in DC.  We will give them to you.)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch (to thicken the filling)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter, cut into small bits
  • splash milk, in a bowl
  1. Make your pie crust.  In the container of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and butter and pulse until mixed through (about 10 seconds).  Place the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water, forming it into a ball (use more ice water if needed).  Divide the ball in half (one for the top, one for the bottom) and place in the refrigerator for about 45 minutes.
  2. While the dough chills, peel, core, and slice your apples.  In a large bowl, combine the sugar and spices, and add the apples.  Add lemon juice and cornstarch and give the whole thing a good toss.
  3. Roll out both sets of dough.  Kitchen God Mark Bittman recommends rolling the dough out between two sheets of saran wrap, and I couldn’t agree more.  Makes the whole things less sticky, and less apt to stick to your rolling pin.  Roll it out until it fits to your pie plate, and then carefully place it in (helps to put the plate over the dough and then flip it over.)  Trim excess dough.
  4. Add the apples to the bottom of the plate and try to arrange them semi-neatly, so they cook relatively evenly.  Dot with the little bits of butter (confession: we forgot this step & it was fine.  There’s enough butter in the crust to go around.)  Add the top crust and crimp the sides together.
  5. Now’s the time to preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
  6. Turning back to your pie, brush the top with milk and sprinkle with a little bit of sugar for some extra fun.  Make a few small slits in the top of the pie, to allow steam to escape.  Refrigerate until the oven is ready.
  7. Bake the pie on a cookie sheet (easier maneuverability) and cook at 450 for ten minutes.  Turn down the heat and bake for 40 minutes at 350.
  8. Make whipped cream/buy ice cream/rejoice.

IMG_4087The Verdict:

Is that an apple crisp you note in the picture?  Why yes, yes it is.  Expect more apples, as noted above.  (And, this pie recipe is the pie recipe to beat.  Thank you Mark Bittman.)

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Lemon and Vegetable Ricotta Pot Pie

Getting packages is obviously the best thing ever.  Usually it’s something I really had no business buying, but it was on sale, and Banana Republic has kindly remembered my credit card number, and whoops, here it is, right on my doorstep, 7-10 business days later.

The only thing better than getting packages I’ve ordered is getting ones I haven’t ordered.  Especially from my mom.

Sometimes, it’s a big package of spices, because she bought too many.  Sometimes it’s a bag of spaetzle.  One time it was an electric toothbrush.  Another time, 4 boxes of Brita filters and paper towels.  Recently, two mugs and a reusable bag from the Human Rights Campaign.

The only consistent thing about these packages is that 1. they show up without warning (i.e., we have not previously discussed a need for any of the things contained in said packages); and 2. there is no note and no explanation for why, or from whom, we are receiving these packages.  You just accept them and call Mom to thank her.

Sometimes, though, my mom outdoes herself.  Like when a few days ago, the UPS man brought A Modern Way to Eat, a new cookbook from Anna Jones, a vegetarian cook from the UK.  Of course, I’m taking some extreme liberties with these recipes, as they’re mostly vegan and slightly too healthy for my tastes.  For example, the below listed cheese as optional.  Not in my book.  But the recipe concepts are awesome.

(And thanks & I love you, Mom!)

 

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Lemon and Vegetable Ricotta Pot Pie

for the dough

  • 1 and 1/4 cups whole wheat flour (you can obviously do this with white flour)
  • large handful parsley
  • zest from one whole lemon
  • pinch salt
  • about 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • about 5 tablespoons cold water
  • optional: 1 egg, beaten (for egg wash)

for the filling

  • olive oil
  • 4 leeks, washed, trimmed, sliced length-wise and then across
  • salt, pepper, crushed reds
  • 1 bunch asparagus, washed & chopped
  • about 8 oz frozen peas
  • about a tablespoon flour
  • about 1 and 1/2 cups veggie stock
  • 4-5 large spoonfuls of whole fat ricotta (honestly, you might as well skip it if you’re going to use the non-fat kind.  just being honest.)
  • a big handful parmesan cheese
  • juice from the zested lemon
  1. Preheat the oven to about 400 degrees F.
  2. Make your dough: Put the flour, parsley, lemon zest and salt into a food processor.  Pulse and then slowly add the olive oil.  Add the water – slowly- and pulse until the dough forms a nice round ball.
  3. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out until you have a nice round circle.  Press into a 9-inch pie plate & trim the sides.  You’ll use these scraps later. (Or, I did, and felt very proud of myself).  Prick the dough in the pan with a fork and bake it for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and set aside.
  4. Prepare your pie filling.  Heat a bit of olive oil in a large, deep pan.  Add leeks, salt, pepper, and red pepper and cook down for about 10-15 minutes over low heat, until the leeks are nice and soft.  Add asparagus & cook another 5 minutes.  Add peas and then a spoonful of flour – give it a quick stir – and then add the stock and simmer until you have a nice veggie gravy.  You will likely have to add a bit more flour.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Off the heat, add ricotta and parmesan cheeses and the lemon juice.  Give the whole mixture a big stir and allow to cool for a moment.
  5. Pour the filling into the pre-baked pie crust.  Now: here’s where you can get genius.  Roll out the pie scraps and then slice them into strips.  You can use these to lattice them over your pie.  Gently brush the lattice and the crust with the egg wash, pop a crust shield over the pie, and bake the whole thing for about 20 minutes.  Serve with a little more parsley and a side salad.

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The Verdict:

This thing falls apart the second you serve it, which reminds me of Thanksgiving and my favorite dish: my mom’s leftover turkey pot pie.  Only this one is all vegetable.  And if I weren’t such a dairy freak, it could even be made vegan.  Then again, it probably wouldn’t make it to the blog without a few tweaks…

Sausage and Veggie Calzones

Tomorrow, Husband and I are jetting off on a very big vacation.  For me, vacation means eating, drinking, and eating some more.  Husband is a little more taken with hiking and outdoor things.

However.  This vacation is my kind of vacation.  Destination: London and Paris.  In other words, by this time tomorrow, I will be chowing SO MANY baguettes.  (OK, to be technical, by this time tomorrow I will be drinking wine courtesy of Virgin Airlines.  But I digress).

Of course, we had to practice our eating, so last night, I made these calzones.  Just to forewarn: this is quite an endeavor – almost two hours.  But this recipe makes so many that unless you’re a member of the Duggar clan (YIKES), you’ll have leftovers, which you can freeze.  Which we have, and will eat the second we get off our return flight to DC.

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Sausage and Veggie Calzones

  • 2 pounds premade pizza dough, brought to room temperature
  • olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped and divided in half
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • salt, pepper, crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • large handful fresh basil
  • 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • about a pound (4 or so links) hot Italian sausage
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • about half a pre-washed bag of arugula
  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil.  Add half of the diced onion, cook down a few minutes before adding garlic and tomato paste.  Cook down another few minutes and add tomato, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, and sugar.  Stir together and cook for about ten minutes.  Add basil and thyme and keep the sauce warm over low heat.
  2. As the sauce cooks, prepare your filling.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and the other half of your diced onion.  Cook down a few minutes and add bell pepper, salt, pepper and some crushed red pepper (after all, we like it spicy around here).  Cook for a few minutes before removing sausage from casings; make sure to break it up in the pan.  Cook until the meat is completely brown.
  3. Divide your (room temp!) dough into eight sections and roll each out on a lightly floured surface – so they’re about 6 inches across and as close to round as they’ll get.  Let’s be honest: this is the hardest step.  Because my kitchen is tiny, I found it helpful to layer the rolled out rounds on a plate between sheets of parchment paper.
  4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and assemble the calzones: top each pizza dough round with a layer of sauce, sausage mixture, a sprinkling of mozzarella, and a small pinch of arugula.  Fold over and crimp the edges of the calzone together.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees F for 25 minutes and serve with an additional spoonful of sauce (and some salad, let’s keep it healthy!).  If you want to freeze any calzones – pull them out at the 15 minute mark, let them cool completely, and then wrap in aluminum foil before placing in a ziplock bag in your freezer.  To reheat, bake the frozen calzones at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.

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The Verdict:

We love our calzones/stromboli around here – the Husband is a pro.  But as he carefully admitted last night, “these gave [his calzones] a run for his money, and that money is still running.”

PS: I won’t be posting for the next week or so.  There are just TOO MANY baguettes to chow!

Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Sesame Crust

After a week of gorging on my mom’s amazing beef stew, I’ve gone back to my non-protein ways.

Sorry, Husband.

(Veggie) tarts are just so GOOD.  And sometimes, they’re even good for you.  Or at least not terrible.

Inspiration by Martha Stewart…and my friend Kate.

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Tomato and Corn Tart with Olive Oil Crust

for the crust

  • a little less than 1.5 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • about 1/3 cup olive oil, plus a little more
  • about 1/3 cup water, plus a little more

for the filling

  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • salt, pepper & crushed reds
  • about a cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked together
  • 1 can corn kernels, rinsed (Note: this would be SO much better with fresh corn, but sadly, we’re not quite to that season yet!)
  • 1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  In  medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, & sesame seeds; slowly pour in the water and olive, forming a large ball.  You may need to add a touch more water or olive oil to help it stick together.
  2. Roll the dough out on a floured surface and press into an 8 or 9 inch pie shell.  Prick all over with a fork and then bake for about 10 minutes; remove and cover the crusts, so they don’t burn.  Reduce the heat to about 375 and bake another 10 minutes or so, until lightly golden brown.
  3. While the crust bakes, heat olive oil over medium low heat in a saute pan, add onion and shallot.  Add salt, pepper and crushed reds, and cook down – until golden and/or translucent.  Finally, add the corn and just give the whole thing a quick toss.
  4. When the crust is done pre-baking, sprinkle the bottom with a health layer of Parmesan cheese.  Add the onion/shallot/corn mixture, then top with the tomatoes.  Season with a little salt and pepper, lightly pour the egg mixture over it (this just helps it to stick together), and add the rest of the Parmesan to the top.
  5. Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees; serve with a little Parsley and a light side salad.  Think about how awesome this will taste when you make it with New Jersey corn, straight from the roadside stand.

IMG_3231The Verdict:

The crust does take a little getting used to – it’s “healthy,” after all, and the taste of the olive oil shines through.  As with any dish, the fresher the veggies, the tastier it’ll be.  Still, it’s been a while since I joined the ladies (and a few good gentlemen) over at Fiesta Friday, but I think this is good enough to bring.  What’s more fiesta-y than corn?

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

The year after we graduated from college, I brought my group of friends…which included one certain future Husband, home to the Cape.

My dad, naturally, found it to be the perfect time to enlist the boys into helping him chop wood, telling them “any day you get to use a chain saw, that’s a good day.”  It’s a wonder the Husband stuck around.

And yet, I feel the same way about my standing bowl mixer, which I wrestled out of its storage place to make this lemon poppy seed pound cake in celebration of our book club anniversary.

look at that gorgeous mixer in the background. just look at it.
look at that gorgeous mixer in the background. just look at it.

Glazed Lemon Poppy Seed Pound Cake

for the cake

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus LOTS of butter for greasing the pan
  • 2 cups cake or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 5 eggs, yolks separated from whites
  • about a teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small container of poppy seeds (about 1/4 cup)

for the glaze

  • about 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
  • juice from the other 1/2 lemon
not pictured: my hands, which had to be used instead of this spoon.
not pictured: my hands, which had to be used instead of this spoon.
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Seriously butter a 9×5 inch loaf pan.  And then butter it again, because this pound cake likes to stay in there.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg in a small bowl; set aside.
  3. Use your mixer (yay!) to cream the butter until smooth.  Add about half the sugar, mix through, add the other half.  Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.  You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl so everything mixes through.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients…and here’s where it gets less fun: by hand.  You might actually need to put your hands in the bowl and smoosh the ingredients together.  Add the lemon juice and lemon zest.
  5. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks.  Fold them into the rest of ingredients, gently, along with the poppy seeds.
  6. Pour into the loaf pan and bake for about 70 minutes.  In the meantime, make the glaze by whisking all of the ingredients together in a small bowl.  Let the cake rest about 5 minutes before extracting from the pan.  Let cool completely before glazing and slicing.
just add a candle, and it's party time.
just add a candle, and it’s party time.