Apple Pie | Pear Pie

Traveling for work the entire month of October, I was beginning to miss my kitchen and home cooked meals. In an almost binge-like fashion, I jumped back into cooking by making six pies in less than a week. Not wanting to get too adventurous at first, I decided to bake a simple apple pie to take to the office and a pie to eat at home. The pie was so well received that I decided to not only make another apple pie but to also make a ginger pear variation of the pie for the office Thanksgiving lunch. While I was making pies for my office, I went ahead and made pies for Jill’s class too.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here is the recipe I adapted from my mom to make a delicious apple pie.

For each pie, you will need:

  • 3  large Granny Smith apples
  • 1  large Braeburn apple
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 T. flour
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. apple pie spice or cinnamon
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 refrigerated roll-out pie crusts

The combination of the Granny Smith Apples, which are known for their tartness, and the Braeburn apple, which is a slightly sweeter relative of the Granny Smith apple,  provides a nice balance for a pie that is neither mouth-puckering tart nor tooth-achingly sweet.

Apples for Pie
Granny Smith and Braeburn Apples

Preheat an over to 450 degrees. Peel, core, and slice the apples into about 1/8 inch slices.

Peeled, Cored, and Sliced Apples
Peeled, Cored, and Sliced Apples

In a bowl, mix together the sugar, salt, spice, and flour. I used Penzey’s Apple Pie Spice, but plain cinnamon would be fine.

Sugar, Flour, Salt, and Spice
Sugar, Flour, Salt, and Spice

Place one of the roll-out crusts in a pie plate. Cover the bottom of the pie crust with a layer of sliced apples. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar mixture.

Pie Crust with Apples and sugar mixture
Pie Crust with Apples

Continue adding layers of apples, sprinkling each layer with the sugar mixture. It may seem like a lot of sugar, flour, salt, and spice for the pie, but use all of the mixture. The juices that cook out of the apples will mix with the sugar and flour to make a cohesive apple filling. Once the crust is full of apples, top the pie mixture with pats of butter.

Pie Crust with Apples, Sugar, and Butter
Top the Pie Mixture with Butter

Place another roll-out pie crust on top of the pie, fold the top layer under the edges of the bottom layer, and crimp to seal the crusts together. Use a sharp knife to cut a few slits in the top pie crust.

Apple Pie Ready to Go Into the Oven
Ready for the Oven

Bake the pie at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Then, lower the temperature to 375 degrees and bake the pie for 30 more minutes or until the pie crust is a light golden brown. Let the pie cool slightly before serving, otherwise the filling may be too liquid.

Cooked Apple Pie
Ready for a Fork… and Maybe Some Vanilla Ice Cream

This apple pie recipe is relatively simple. You could make your own pie crust, but using the refrigerated roll-out crust saves time that you can spend making other Thanksgiving Day dishes. The mixture of Granny Smith and Braeburn apples provides a tartness that keeps the pie from being too sweet after the sugar mixture is added.

This recipe also lends itself to more adventurous variations. For examples, I replaced with apples with Forelle, Comine, and Bartlett Pears (I did not peel the pears) and replaced the cinnamon with ground ginger and kept everything else in the recipe the same to make a Ginger Pear Pie. The ground ginger really comes through in the pie and complements the sweetness of the pears well.

Forelle, Comine, and Bartlett Pears
Forelle, Comine, and Bartlett Pears

If you are invited over to share Thanksgiving with family or friends this year, volunteer to bring dessert. Don’t pick up a pre-made pie from the grocery store, use this recipe to make an apple pie, a ginger pear pie, or both. You will probably get invited back for Thanksgiving dinner next year.

Apple Pies and Pear Pies
Apple Pies and Pear Pies

Savory Butternut Squash Pie

For my office’s Thanksgiving grazing day, the company provided ham and turkey and each person in the office signed up to bring food to share. I volunteered to bring a side dish to go with the ham and turkey. Not sure exactly what to bring, I searched the Whole Foods iPad app for inspiration. The recipe for Savory Butternut Squash Pie with Hazelntuts caught my eye. I really like savory pies, like this tomato pie, as well as butternut squash. I checked and the recipe is also available on the Whole Foods website.

Ingredients for Savory Butternut Squash Pie
Ingredients for Savory Butternut Squash Pie with Hazelnuts

The recipe calls for butternut squash to be cubed, coated in olive oil, and roasted. With the sweet earthiness that that develops as butternut squash roasts, I use roasted butternut squash for the base of many Fall inspired meals.

Roasted butternut squash
Roasted butternut squash

Like in the tomato pie recipe, this Savory Butternut Squash Pie also calles for caramelized onions. After cooking the onions down, a little white wine is used to deglaze the pan. The aroma released from the onions and the deglazing of the pan is wonderful.

Caramelized onions
Caramelized onions

Hazelnuts are added to provide a crunch to an otherwise soft pie. I toasted the hazelnuts in a pan until the skins loosened. After letting the hazelnuts cool, I removed the skins and coarsely chopped them.

Toasting hazelnuts
Toasting hazelnuts

The recipe also calls for breadcrumbs. Not having breadcrumbs on hand, I decided to make my own from leftover bread. Yesterday’s baguette becomes today’s breadcrumbs.

Yesterday's baguette becomes today's breadcrumbs

Assembling all of the ingredients together, I can tell that this pie will be delicious. Unlike sweet pies made with pumpkin, sweet potato, or butternut squash, the cubed butternut squash and the hazelnuts make this savory pie quite chunky and hearty.

Assembled Savory Butternut Squash Pie
Savory butternut squash pies ready for the oven

After baking, the pies looked perfect. I was very glad that I doubled the recipe — one pie to share with coworkers and one pie to eat at home.

Cooked butternut squash pies
Finished pie

If you are still looking for something to cook for your Thanksgiving dinner, consider this recipe for a delicious accompaniment to your ham or turkey.

Tomato Pie

The most recent edition (July/August 2011) of Food Network Magazine features a Heirloom Tomato Pie on the cover. Inspired by fresh tomatoes currently in season, I decided to make this heirloom tomato pie for dinner.

Tomato Pie and Food Network Magazine
Tomato Pie and Food Network Magazine

I followed the magazine’s recipe with only minor changes. Jill and I do not typically have mayonnaise on hand, so I substituted that ingredient with sour cream. I also forgot to add the caramelized onions to the cheese mixture, so I topped the pie with them instead.

The recipe is moderately labor intensive because of the homemade crust, but the final result is definitely worth the effort. The homemade crust holds up to the juices that cook out of the tomatoes much better than a pre-made crust. The fresh tomatoes, I used UglyRipe, yellow, and green tomatoes, provides a meaty, but slightly sweet filling for the pie. Next time, I will use another type of tomato in place of the green tomatoes because they stayed firmer than the other tomatoes after being cooked (this is why green tomatoes are usually fried). My favorite part of the pie is definitely the caramelized onions, which add significantly to the depth of flavors in the dish.

If you can, I highly recommend that you pick up some heirloom tomatoes from your local farmers’ market and make this pie this weekend.

A slice of tomato pie
A slice of tomato pie

Cooking with My Mentees, part 2

So in the last post, I recapped our epic meal.  This post details the epic dessert!  We made individual apple pies with a lattice crust.  Lattice crusts are awesome because they make you look like a baking pro but they aren’t that hard to put together (for more details on a lattice pie crust, check out this post).

For our pies, we took some help from the store and used Publix refrigerated pie crusts.  After rolling out and cutting the bottom crust, we filled the pie shells with a mixture of apple slices, honey, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a pinch of salt.

We assembled the lattice tops and let the pies bake for a while (35 – 45 minutes?) in a 350 degree oven (until the crusts were brown and the filling was bubbly.

This was the result:

Four delicious baby pies.  Unfortunately the pies took so long to cook that the girls had to leave, but I wrapped up each of their pies and delivered them that evening.
See how good that looks?  And it seriously came together in no time!
I had a GREAT time cooking with some fabulous ladies.  It was fun to be a cooking instructor for the day.  I can’t wait to host another cooking day and see what other tasty dishes we can whip up!

Shortcut Blueberry Peach Pie

I had perfectly sweet, perfectly ripe blueberries for breakfast this morning, which made me think of this pie.  I think the flavors and textures of blueberries and peaches are very complementary.  I prefer the blueberry-peach combination over an all berry pie.  There isn’t a lot of sugar in this pie – the recipe relies on the natural sweetness of the fruit, brought out by bright, citrusy lemon juice.

Blueberry Peach Pie

This creation was pretty easy to whip up but the lattice top makes it look like I spent forever in the kitchen.  While you could use fresh peaches or make your own pie crust, my shortcuts get me in and out of the kitchen in no time, which makes this a great dessert for a lazy summer weekend.

For this pie, I used a package of store-bought pie crusts: one was used for the bottom and the other was rolled out and cut into strips to make the lattice (for help with your lattice crust, check out this website: Simply Recipes.).   If I’m feeling industrious, I make my own crust but in the middle of the summer when it is 100 degrees outside I’ll take the help from the grocery store.   Frozen peaches hold up better than frozen blueberries, which makes frozen peaches a great substitute when I can’t find ripe, fresh peaches or I don’t feel like blanching and peeling two pounds of peaches.

I don’t follow an exact recipe for this pie, but below is my best recollection of the recipe:

Blueberry Peach Pie

two refrigerated, pre-prepared pie crusts

pint of blueberries, rinsed and patted dry

16-ounce bag of frozen peach slices, thawed and drained

juice from half a lemon

sugar, to taste (I think I used 1/4 cup)

1-1/2 tablespoons corn starch

pinch of salt

two tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces

Line a 9-inch pie pan with one pie crust. In a bowl, gently combine blueberries, peaches, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and salt (if you mix this together too vigorously, you will smash the blueberries). Spoon the fruit mixture into the pie crust. Dot the fruit with small pats of butter. Using the second crust, create a lattice top on the pie.  Wrap the edges of the pie with aluminum foil so they don’t burn. Bake at 350 for 35 to 40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. and the fruit is bubbly. Allow to cool for 20 – 25 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Blueberry Peach PieBlueberry Peach Pie