Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Apple Pie

Nothing says American more than baseball, hamburgers/hot dogs and corn on the cob on the grill with chilled watermelon and apple pie a la mode.

The apple pie (or tort) dates back centuries and was brought to the New World by immigrant English, Swedes and the Dutch. This would explain for the different variations on the theme. But this delicacy has had an indelible effect on our culture. Anything typically US is described “As American as apple pie.”

The most important part of making an apple pie is the selection of the apple. Some apples, such as McIntosh as too sweet and not as firm as say a crispy, acidic Granny Smith, Fuji or Golden Delicious. For proper apple pie, you will want to select the latter.

The Ingredients:

The Dough
2 ½ cups All Purpose Flour
4 teaspoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter
1 egg lightly beaten

The Filling
3 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
3 pounds baking apples, peeled, halved and quarter each half
¾ cup sugar
½ stick butter
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg lightly beaten

The Preparation:

The Dough
To make the best dough, I make it by hand by mixing with a fork the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. With my fingers I work the cold butter into the dry ingredients until well incorporated with a course texture and pea-sized bits of butter. Add the egg and mix well. If dough is too dry, add a sprinkle of water. Form the dough into a round disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about an hour.

The Filling
With lemon juice squeezed into a bowl, toss the apples. Add sugar and toss again until well coated. Melt butter in skillet or wok over medium-high cooking apples until the sugar dissolves and mixture simmers. Cover skillet reducing heat to medium-low and cook apples for about 6-8 minutes. With a colander over the skillet, scoop out the apples retaining as much liquid as practicable and simmer the juices at medium heat until it thickens. Set all aside and let them cool completely.

Assemble the Pie

Cut the dough in half and on a floured surface, roll both halves into a disk into a disk 12 inches wide. Place the rolled disks between wax paper and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place a baking sheet on the lower oven rack and pre-heat to 375° (to catch drippings). Line a 9” pie pan with one dough disk so that it over-lays the edge ½ inch and trim off excess dough. Fill pie pan with filling. With the remaining disk, cut into ½ strips and lattice it over the pie, pinching the edge all the way around. Brush crush with an egg and sugar egg wash and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place pie on baking pan and bake for 50-60 minutes. Once crust is golden brown, let cool for several hours. Serve warm or cold with ice cream.

Enjoy, JW




Thursday, June 11, 2015

Every once in a while, I get an assignment that makes me say, “what the …? This is what happened last week.

I received a call last week from the vice president of marketing of Sea Ray Corporation in Knoxville, Tennessee. He had a Hollywood VIP client who needed instruction in two days on a Sea Ray 310 which was being trucked from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
Jackson Lake, 45 miles north of Jackson Hole, is a 15 mile long high altitude (6774 ft.) lake that parallels the base of the Grand Teton Mountains. The boating was beautiful, but what I really enjoyed on this trip was the food. Buffalo burgers. Elk tips fondue. Venison tenderloin. The food took me back to my childhood when I would spend summers on my maternal grand-parent’s two cattle ranches in Wyoming. Ranch house and chuck wagon faire proves to be a hearty welcome after a day’s ride moving cattle from section to section. It is with this memory that I present the Cowboy Stew. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, a casserole dish will do just fine.

1 pound of cubed stew meat
2 teaspoons meat tenderizer (non-MSG)
2 tablespoons of sage
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 envelope of dry onion soup mix
1 (16 ounce) package frozen stew vegetables
1 (10 ounce) can crescent dinner rolls

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, sprinkle the meat tenderizer over the meant and cook until browned. Drain off any excess juices. In a small bowl, mix the sage, chicken broth, condensed soup and onion soup mix. Pour over the meat reducing heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Add frozen stew vegetables to the skillet and simmer 10 minutes more. Unroll the crescent dough and arrange over the stew in a pie shape.

Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.

Yelling YEE-HAW is optional. Enjoy, JW