Apple Pie

Since moving to Minnesota last year, one of our family’s favorite things to do has been visiting an apple orchard in the fall. We love picking apples together and enjoying the fruits of our labor.

This year we have hauled an abundance of apples home. Since viewing the Good Eats reloaded episode “I pie: The Reload” I have decided to give making my own pie crust a whirl. This recipe utilizes a double batch of pie crust from that episode found here, and a pie filling using a tart apple suited for baking paired with a sweeter apple, combined with an apple cider filling for a sweet and tart pie. For this pie I used Haralson apples for their tartness. These tart, firm textured apples make up most of the apples in the pie. I also used a single Riverbelle for its sweetness. The Riverbell apple is sweet crunchy and a good apple for eating out of hand and for baking. Also they are huge!

The crust:

I doubled Alton Brown’s pie crust recipe for this to make a top and bottom crust. Its a simple flour and butter pie crust that is easy to prepare. The recipe can be found here.

The filling:

  • 3-5 tart apples depending on the size
  • 1-2 sweet apples also depending on the size
  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 3 Tbsp corn starch
  • 1/2″. cinnamon stick
  • 6 coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 1 tsp turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 9″. pie pan with butter. On a floured work surface, roll one disk of dough to a thickness of 1/8″. and place into 9″ pie pan. If the dough cracks or does not cover one part of the pan use excess dough to patch that area. Cut the dough 1/2″. larger than the diameter of the pie pan.  Combine water and lemon juice in a large bowl. Peel, core and cut the apples into 1/2″ slices. Keep apple slides in acidulated water to prevent oxidation. Reserve 1/4 cup of  apple cider, combine the 1/4 cup apple cider with the corn starch and mix well. Set aside. Combine the rest of the apple cider, spices and sugar. Bring the cider, sugar and spice mixture to a boil. Add cornstarch cider mixture and stir continuously until the sauce thickens. Set aside. Line the apple slices in the pie pan with the dough, slightly mounding them in the middle. Pour the sauce over the apples. Roll out the second disk to 1/8′ thickness. Whisk together the egg and 2 tablespoons water. Brush the edge of the dough in the pie pan with the egg wash. Cover the pie with the second crust. Trim the second crust to match the first. Use your thumb, fore finger and middle finger to flute the edges of the dough, pressing the two together. Cut five slits around the center of the top of the pie. Brush the whole top of the pie crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes.

Red beans and rice

This is one of my daughters favorite meals. It’s fun to see her get so excited for something I would not have guessed she would be that into.
I like this recipe because it’s mostly vegetarian and could be made vegan by substituting the Worcestershire sauce with soy sauce and the butter with a vegan alternative.

Red beans and rice:

  • One large yellow or white onion diced
  • One bunch green onions sliced
  • Three cloves garlic miced
  • One bay leaf
  • Three 15 oz cans of red beans drained and rinsed
  • One teaspoon liquid smoke
  • One tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Three sprigs of thyme
  • Two tablespoons olive oil
  • One cup veggie stock
  • One tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the oil in a saute pan or deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook for ten minutes stirring occasionally, until the onions have started to brown.

Add the garlic and cook for two minutes. Add the beans, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, bay leaf, vegatable stock and thyme. Bring the beans to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Adjust the seasoning if needed.

Simmer the beans for five to ten minutes. Using a potato masher mash one third to one half the beans. Stir in the butter and garnish with the green onions. Pull the thyme stems out of the beans. Serve over rice.

Chicken Tacos

This chicken taco recipe is super easy and delicious. It’s my go to taco Tuesday dinner. This recipe utilises a rotisserie chicken. This is purely for convenience. A rotisserie chicken from the grocery store saves time, also I can use the bones to make chicken stock. If you want to substitute any cuts of chicken you easily could.The other secret ingredient is a jar of salsa verde. You can make it yourself but its Tuesday. I like to top these tacos with pickled red onions. These are best prepared a day ahead of time and add an acidic element that balances the richness of the chicken.

Chicken tacos:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 10 oz. salsa verde
  • 1 4 oz can mild green chili
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tblsp olive oil
  • 2 packages of your favorite taco shells
  • Queso fresco
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 pickeled onion

Pull the chicken meat off the bones. Make sure to get the pearls. Set the carcass aside to make stock. See my chicken stock recipe in an upcoming post. If you can’t get to making stock that night freeze the carcass in a zip top bag.
Warm the skillet with the olive oil over medium to medium high heat. While the pan is warming, crumble a package of queso fresco, chop the garlic and the cilantro. When the pan Is warm add the chicken. Cook the chicken for about five minutes. Add the cumin. Continue to cook until the chicken starts to get browned. The amount of browning or crunchy bits is a matter of personal taste. Add the garlic and cook for one to two minutes. Add the chilis and salsa verde. Stir to combine. When the mixture starts to bubble reduce to a simmer to hold until you are ready. Top with crumbled queso fresco, cilantro and pickeled onions. Serve this along side your favorite chips and salsa or guacamole.
A note on taco shells. My favorite taco shells are soft corn tortillas. For best results get the par cooked corn tortillas. Warm them on a dry cast iron pan on medium to medium high heat.

Pickeled onions:

  • 1 small to medium red onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 1tsp sugar

Ideally prep this condiment a day ahead of time. Slice the onion into thin strips. Place the sliced onion into a 1 pint Mason jar other container. Combine the red wine vinegar and white vinegar with the sugar and season to taste. Whisk until the sugar has disolved. Pour over the onion. If the mixture does not cover the onion top it off with more red wine vinegar. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Tofu Tomato

At a recent cooking class the instructor mentioned picking five recipes to perfect. The idea being these are your go to weeknight meals. My first attempt was tofu tomato. At the time of this writing we are in the dog days of summer. The tomatoes at the farmers market are nearing the middle of their peak season. My family loves this fresh vegan version of the Vietnamese dish anytime of year though.

Tofu Tomato:

  • 2 lb fresh tomatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 package firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch mixed with an equal amount of water
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cooked rice

Dice the tomatoes and onions. I like a large dice for this recipe. Cut the tofu into large rectangles. Also, slice the green onions and chop the cilantro. Heat the oil in a deep saute pan or wok on medium to medium high heat. When the oil is hot add the tofu. Cook the tofu until it is golden brown, turning if needed. Evacuate the tofu to a plate lined with a paper towel. Remove all the oil but one tablespoon from the pan. I pour the oil into a heat prof container such as a pyrex measuring cup. Don’t throw it out it can be reused. Return the pan to the stove. Add the onion and saute for three to five minutes, just until the onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic to the pan and cook for two minutes. Add the tomatoes and tofu to the pan. Now add the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes and corn starch slurry. Stir to combine all the ingredients well. Leave the pan on the heat string occasionally until the sauce thickens. Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve over rice.