Adam and I have been cooking up some ideas about how to share his talents with y'all while he's living in the Gourmet Ghetto. Of course, all of our ideas rely on an internet connection at home (because it might be a little weird to present a turkey-prep how-to video on borrowed wi-fi at Peets, no?).
While we're waiting for him to get online, I thought I'd present one of the few edibles that I can make BETTER than Adam can (that's right, Wargacki, I'm tossing down the gauntlet).
Making pie is one of my greatest pleasures in life. Unlike Adam, I don't cook well under pressure. I favor recipes that allow me to take it slow- chop, stir, taste, season, taste again. I also love to cook by intuition, adding whatever strikes my fancy. I have made dozens of variations on my apple pie (orange spice, huckleberry, sour apple, and rum-soaked to name a few), and I can never decide which is my favorite. Of course, the key to getting creative successfully is to start with a basic, no-fail recipe and elaborate from there.
For a perfect apple pie, you'll need the following:
- 4 or 5 apples. Always have one more apple than you think you'll need. You will likely take a bite or two while you're cooking. I like to select 3 or 4 sweet red apples (not red delicious, which I find pretty tasteless) and 1 or 2 tart green apples. All of the apples should still be pretty crisp and fresh- we're not making applesauce here.
- 2 refrigerated rolled pie crusts. Yes. Store bought. In the interest of time and not pulling our hair out here, let's save pie crusts for another day. Nobody will mind (and if they do, you may confiscate their slice).
- Brown Sugar
- White Cooking Wine
- Lemon Juice or Orange Juice
- Cinnamon, Nutmeg, Cloves, Allspice, or whatever else you like
- An Adorable Pie Pan (probably 9" or 9.5")
- Cookie Cutters of your choice
First off, toss your measuring cups. Measuring will just take the fun out of this very easy project. Then, proceed as follows.
- Get your pie crusts out of the fridge and let them warm to room temperature.
- Set out a large bowl and add a few squirts of citrus juice. Peel an apple and chop it into roughly 3/4" chunks. Toss each chopped apple into the citrus juice immediately to prevent it from browning.
- When all of your apples are ready, add a couple pinches of salt and enough cinnamon to turn them all speckly and spicy. Add the other spices to taste.
- Pour in about 3/4 a cup of white wine. Give the apples a good stir and let them soak up the wine a bit. While they're marinating, you should probably soak up a cup of wine as well.
- Drop in at least 1/2 a cup of brown sugar. Stir as you're adding it- it should dissolve a bit in the wine, creating a nice syrup.
- Add flour- just a little at a time until the apples are coated in sugary goo. You cannot mess this up. If you add too much and it gets too stiff, add a little more wine. If it's so thin that it doesn't stick to the apple chunks, keep stirring in flour.
- Taste an apple or two. It should be delicious at this point. If it isn't, up the quantity of the flavor that it's missing, or dilute with more wine and flour.
- Preheat your oven to 400º.
- Set your apples aside and unroll one pie crust. Set it into your pie pan, making sure that the edges don't drape too far over the sides. I like to pinch the edges into a ruffly pattern. Don't get too picky. This is a pie, not a freakin' wedding cake.
- Pour in your apple mixture, and pack it in as much as possible. Don't overfill or it will drip out as it's cooking. If you have leftover filling, don't fret- save it for your oatmeal the next morning (trust me, do it).
- Unroll your second pie crust onto a cutting board and have at it with your cookie cutters. Get creative. Get squirrelly, if need be. I dusted my squirrels in cinnamon to make them stand out amongst the trees.
- Arrange your shapes on top of the pie, leaving a few gaps. Taste a scrap of pie crust- if it's bland, you may want to brush on a little butter.
- Place your pie in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. When the timer goes off, the edges of the crust should be getting pretty golden- remove your pie and cover the edges with strips of tin foil so they don't get burnt.
- Put the pie back in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until everything is looking nicely browned and you cannot resist the lovely aroma any longer.
- Let the pie cool on a rack briefly and arm yourself, because you'll have to guard it against nibbling family members.
- Slice and enjoy.
Really, that's it! Recent studies in my household have shown that everyone loves apple pie. 100% of parents polled said that this pie was "damn tasty," with 100% of dads going back for a second slice. Baking this delicious pie will increase your culinary renown by up to 68%, while making you 73% more likely to get roped into desert duty for Thanksgiving. It's a fact, people, I am the Queen of Apple Pie. Eat that, Cook Adam.
Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmmm.