Saturday, October 15, 2011

The most delicious apple pie ever. And also chowder.

So, if you know me at least a little bit well, you know I love to cook.  Or specifically to bake. I used to bake a ton.  Fresh bread every week, cookies or other sweets brought into work every week ... that sort of thing.  Then I got pregnant. Didn't want to eat the first few months and started a new job and suddenly the baby was born and it was all I could do to make a box mix.

Lately I've had more time since Nate is more independent and also enjoys cooking with me so I've been getting back into cooking more.

If you know me more than a little bit, you know that I went through a bit of a "sugar nazi" (as Jen called it) phase when I was against sugar.  I've gotten over that but was making a lot of Eating Well recipes for awhile (and still do when I want to be more healthy).  Also, I recently got Joanne Chang's Flour cookbook which has recipes for simple foods but sometimes just a little more complicated than they need to be (though they certainly are delicious).

So today I did two things I haven't done in awhile and don't do frequently. I made a no-holds-barred chowder (it had 8 ounces of bacon's worth of BACON FAT in it plus 1/2 cup of BUTTER) and pulled out an old cookbook* sitting on my shelf and made a really simple apple pie recipe.  Both of those things turned out SO GOOD!

First, the chowder.  I took this recipe.  I pretty much made it as is except that I used a bag of frozen langostino tails in place of the lobster (same thing, sorta), left out the scallops and used a pound of Turbot in place of both fishes.  Also I only used 1 1/2 quarts of milk and 1/4 cup of butter and left out the curry powder.  I think next time I'd add a few more potatoes and maybe do some type of herb.  Not sure which.  Possibly just give the curry powder a try.  Jen's not a huge fan of soups/chowders but she loved it! SUCCESS!

The pie recipe was from Fannie Farmer's Classic American Cookbook (my version was printed in 1979). It's really simple and doesn't even bother with that fancy-schmancy egg wash on the crust. I've printed the recipe below but I will admit that I used a frozen pie crust from Trader Joe's (which is the best store-bought crust I've ever had).  I'm not a crust person. I know they're supposedly really easy but I just haven't gotten the hang of them so I'll use one I know will be consistent!

Apple Pie

Basic Pastry dough for 9-inch two-crust pie (store-bought or homemade, certainly up to you)
3/4-1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
6 large, firm, tart apples
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 9-inch pie pan with half the pastry dough. Mix the sugar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flour in a large bowl. Peel, core, and slice the apples and toss them in the sugar mixture, coating them well. Pile them into the lined pan and dot with the butter. Roll out the top crust and drape it over the pie. Crimp the edges and cut several vents in the top. Bake 10 minutes, then lower the head to 350 degrees F and bake 30-40 minutes more or until the apples are tender when pierced with a skewer or knife and the crust is browned.

*My dad read cookbooks. He read cookbooks for the introductions, for the little anecdotes and tidbits of information that were peppered throughout, but mostly he read them for the recipes. After he died, my mom and I found piles of saved newspaper and magazine clippings. They were all restaurant reviews and recipes. From his years observing my Chef-grandfather and reading recipes and eating all over the world, my dad had compiled a rich encyclopedia of food in his head. In all the years I watched him cook, I very rarely saw him use a recipe. All he needed to know was in his head. However, he did enjoy reading cookbooks. When he died at the age of 60, my dad had a collection of over five hundred cookbooks. He liked to tell the story of the one summer he went to the annual used book sale under a tent in one of the mall parking lots and came home with sixty-five new additions to his collection. When he came home very excited about his new purchases, my mom did not react with as much enthusiasm as he had hoped. Like many other families, there were bookshelves in the family room and a couple other rooms of my parents’ house. They were full of cookbooks. When my dad died, I had thirty-two cookbooks, eighteen of which my dad bought for me at the used book sale that summer. Of my collection, twenty-four books focused on dessert and bread making. After he died I took a bunch home with me and the Fannie Farmer's one was one of them since I ended up saving a lot of the older historical American ones that he had.


  1. I was not able to make a decent pie crust until a coworker suggested rolling out the crust in Saran wrap. I tape enough Saran to the countertop, flour it, press down the crust, sprinkle with flour and top with more Saran. Once it's rolled out you can fold it in the Saran so you can lift it into your pie plate without it tearing. A world of difference!

  2. The taping the bottom piece of Saran wrap sounds like a good tip. Thanks. :) I have done it between before, but never taping the bottom one. I also want to get a French rolling pin since I think that would make rolling it easier.