Monday, December 08, 2003

Pie Season

It's getting to be apple pie time around Casa de Sherri. I don't make pies per recipe, at least in the traditional sense, but I have taken a pie making method of my husband's and brought it to a peak of perfection. The real trick with apples pies is to improvise and not sweat the small stuff.

It's also the mix of apples. You want to use at least three kinds of apples in a good pie -- a yellow apple that is mild and has a soft, sweet flesh (Golden Delicious works well), a red apple with a firm flesh and strong, sweet flavor (I like Fujis) and Granny Smiths. Whatever else you pick, you gotta use those Granny Smiths. And don't for heaven's sake use Red Delicious -- the only apple made from 100% sawdust and library paste. Yech! You don't want mealy apples and you don't want Apples that Look Good and Taste like library paste.

You need all three apple types in equal amounts and well mixed together. Peel, core and slice into either the traditional apple slice or chunk 'em up. Puree two of each apple to use layering your slices/chunks (or use a no-sugar added applesauce. Apple butter works too, if you mix it with the puree). No sugar needed, no molasses, no Splenda, no anything like that. The right apples will work wonders. I like to add walnuts and a good helping of candied ginger. Not all candied ginger is the same -- if you don't want to eat it from the container, don't use it in the pie is my rule.

And crust? Pillsbury makes a fine one. I've never perfected making my own crust and honestly, when I can buy one that's better than anything I can make, I see no need to suffer endlessly to perfect that mysterious magic of combining shortening and flour (Pea size lumps is the one thing every recipe mentions and I've never acomplished.) Important thing with the crust is the timing and the poking. You want the crust to be warm enough to bend but cool enough not to stick to everything but the pie pan. And you want to prick the hell out of the bottom crust with a fork so that no nasty little air bubbles form and blow your pie up. I like doing cut outs with the top crust rather than the lattice work thing. Oh, I can actually do a lattice, since that doesn't require you actually make the crust yourself. Basic arts-n-crafts work will do it.

Ah yes, apple pie time. I did it once with pears and apples. I've added dried cranberries (that was a winner). Who knows what I'll come up with this year? Wasabi peas?

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