Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Thanksgiving Week - 3 (Deep Dish Apple Pie)

While at the local library last week, I was looking for some movies to watch for my family. I picked up a couple of movies that we hadn't seen in a few months (yes, we like to re-watch movies very often!) and then looked for something new. Browsing in the more "educational" shelves of videos, I stumbled upon a small section devoted to cooking shows! After picking through Rachel Ray and similar "newer" chefs, I found just what I was looking for: America's Test Kitchen Best Baking Recipes. So on Saturday night, while everyone else was busy with a party that we were hosting, I went downstairs with my dog (since one of the guests was comfortable with canines) and popped it in.

For the next two hours I was glued to the screen. Christopher Kimball went through different recipes with some of their test cooks, from a summer fruit galette to spice cookies to chocolate mousse cake. Another recipe that America's Test Kitchen made was Deep Dish Apple Pie. I watched, entranced, as the chefs showed how to make the best butter crust, cooked the prepared apples in a heavy sauce pan before putting them into the pie dish, and gave tips to keep the crust from sticking to your counter while rolling it out.

I went back later to re-watch that episode and copied down as best I could the directions for one of the best apple pies ever! This recipe I made today, and although I gave it a tweak here and there, was developed by America's Test Kitchen.

Here's the scoop for you:

Butter Pastry for Two-Crust Pie

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
16 tbs. unsalted butter (pref. frozen)
3 tbs. sour cream
1/3 cup ice water

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl.

Add in the butter (cut into small cubes).

Blend the butter with the dry mixture until the dough resembles very small peas.

Be careful to keep the butter from getting too soft. Refrigerate as necessary.

Mix together the sour cream and ice water, then pour into the dough.

Combine thoroughly and then separate into two equal balls of dough.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least one hour.

Deep Dish Apple Pie Filling

10-12 apples (half tart apples, such as Granny Smith, and half sweet, Golden Delicious)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
a little salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest

Prepare the apples by peeling and cutting them into thin slices.

Add in the sugars, salt, cinnamon, and lemon zest.

Put apples in a large heavy-bottomed pot, and cook lightly over a low heat for about 15-18 minutes. Be very careful not to let the apples boil or get overheated. You want to have them soft to easily pierce with a fork but still retain their shape.

Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet and spread them out to cool.

Back to the Pastry:

Roll out the dough.

Quick Hint: Before you roll it out, let it warm up a little bit so it won't crack when you roll it.

To keep it from sticking to your counter, tear off two sheets of wax paper and lightly flour both. Then place the dough between the sheets and roll away!

The pastry should measure 12in. by 12in. in a circle. Place on a baking sheet and put in the refrigerator to keep the butter cool.

Then roll out the other half of the pastry - this one will be the bottom half of the pie. Place in the pie dish and leave the edges to overlap.

Back to the filling:

The apples have now cooled, to pour them into a colander over a bowl to drain out the excess liquid.

Add the "dry" apples into the pie dish, then pour about 1/2 cup of the liquid from the cooked apples over the filling.

Bring out the cooled pastry and put on the top of the pie. Seal and trim the sides, then crimp the edge to your personal style.

Make sure you cut slits or holes in the top crust to let out the steam.

You can brush the top of the pie with beaten egg white, the sprinkle white sugar on top.

Bake in a 425F oven on a cookie sheet for about 1 hour, but make sure the top does not get too dark.

Let cool completely, for about two hours before serving. This allows the pie to set and is easier to cut.

Garnish each slice with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Week - 2 (Oatmeal Bread Recipe)

As Julia Child says, "If you're not ready to fail, you're not ready to cook... cooking is often one failure after another." Today was one of those days that the baking did not turn out exactly right. Usually there is a small blemish or mistake in most of my finished products, but today I added too much water to my bread dough and the result was a completely uncooked center! We'll broil those parts of the loaves with lots of butter for breakfast tomorrow...

I do not have pictures from today's experiments, but if you go to one of the earlier posts, you can see what Oatmeal Bread is supposed to look like when the recipe is followed correctly.

Here's the Scoop:

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (not the quick kind)
2 cups boiling water
2 tsp. salt
1/4 white sugar
1 package or tsp. dry active yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour


Pour the yeast into the 1/4 cup of lukewarm water. Be careful not to have hot water, because that will kill the yeast. Water that is too cool will not activate the yeast, and then the dough will not rise at all.

Put the oats in a large bowl.

Pour the boiling water over them, add the salt and sugar. Let stand until lukewarm.

Add the yeast that was dissolved in the lukewarm water.

Gradually add in the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly.

After adding the flour, turn out onto a floured counter top and knead for six to eight minutes. Dough should be smooth and only slightly tacky (or sticky).

Place in a lightly greased bowl and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Divide into two. Place each dough portion into a greased loaf pan. Let rise again until doubled in bulk.

Bake in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes, or until brown on the top and bottom.

I like to rub the top crust with butter as soon as it comes out of the oven to add extra flavor and a little shine.


Thanksgiving Week - 1

It's Monday of Thanksgiving week! Like other households, we are gearing up for a day of feasting and fellowship while giving thanks for the blessings that have been bestowed on us. On Thursday we will be having Grandma, two cousins from out-of-state, and six or seven international students eager for a taste of an American Thanksgiving experience.

Today was spent doing some regular work, and then in the afternoon I got a chance to do fun work in the kitchen...

In addition to baking two different kinds of breads, I put our 28lb. turkey in to brine for the next three days. Not strictly "sweet" - I decided to include the recipe we use for some people have expressed interest in learning how to brine a turkey. This will make your turkey refreshingly moist, even after roasting in your oven for five or more hours!

Recipe for Turkey Brine:

After rinsing out the turkey, remove giblets and other unnecessary parts included. (Fowl should be defrosted beforehand).

Place bird in large, heavy duty, trash bag inside a large cooler.

Add 1 cup of salt (regular table salt)

Add 1 cup of white sugar

Then pour in between 3-5 gallons of water, enough to entirely cover the turkey, which should be placed breast-side down.

Tie trash bag securely.

Let soak for 2-3 days in the bag, inside the cooler on your porch (that's what we do, since the cool temperatures allow us to have extra "refrigerator" space) - turning once a day to the opposite side.

Thursday (Thanksgiving morning)

Proceed to follow your normal roasting procedure.


Recipes will be following shortly for the breads I made today!