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Saturday, October 30

As American As...

I got to thinking about it, and realized something.  I've covered alot of things, but I have completely ignored what is probably the most iconic food of America...Apple Pie.  I should be ashamed of myself, really.  Oh well...no time like the present to correct that.

Today, I'm going to offer you 3 pleasing pies to choose from.  First, of course, we'll have the Traditional Apple Pie, the all-time crowd pleaser.  Second, we'll add a little twist, creating a Caramel Apple Pie.  Finally we'll have what, to some, is the epitome of apple pie...Dutch Apple Pie.  Of course, there are dozens more out there on the web just waiting for your perusal, but I think these 3 are most definitely TOP of the list!!


Before we begin, let's discuss apples.  When it comes to pies, typically recipes call for Granny Smith variety...a rather tart apple with firm flesh.  That's fine and dandy for a typical pie, but sometimes it's actually the WRONG choice.  First, the use of Granny Smith apples virtually guarantees having to use sugars, whether white or brown.  Secondly, at least for me, Granny Smith apples just seem too "normal", if that makes sense.  Almost boring, in a way.  If you prefer them, that's fine...but why not (as Emeril so aptly puts it) kick it up a notch?

I have found, through trial and error, that doing one of two things makes a DRAMATIC difference in the quality and flavor of an apple pie: either use a variety of apples along with the Granny Smiths OR go with one type of good quality eating/baking apple, such as Fuji or Gala.  You'll use less sugar, which keeps the flavor truer, and lowers the caloric intake, ALWAYS a bonus!!

C'mon folks...let's go make some pie!!

TRADITIONAL APPLE PIE

1 package frozen pie crusts, thawed completely (or make your own...recipe here)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup water
8 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced in 1/4 thick slices

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter, then add the flour and whisk until blended thoroughly (will be thick).  Add the sugars and water, whisking well, and bring to a soft boil.  Cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

In a 9 inch pie plate, lay out one of your crusts, fitting to the pan.  Dock lightly with a fork (poke it about 10 times all over).  Pour cut apples into crust, mounding in the middle.  When ready, pour the sugar sauce over the apples, coating thoroughly.  Cover with second crust, and crimp the edges of the 2 crusts together all the way around the pie.  Cut 4-5 1 inch slits in the top crust to vent.

Bake on a large baking sheet for 15 minutes at 425, then reduce the oven temp to 350, and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, or until beautifully golden brown and bubbling.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  Serves 8.

VARIATION:  To add a cinnamon flavor, simply dust the apples with 1 teaspoon cinnamon before adding sugar mixture.

CARAMEL APPLE PIE

1 package frozen pie crusts, thawed
1/2 cup any type Caramel sauce
6 cups thinly sliced apples, preferably a combo of Granny Smith and Fuji
1/4 cup salted Pecan pieces, crushed
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Whipped cream, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a 9 inch pie plate, lay out the first crust, fitting to pan.  Dock bottom lightly with a fork.  In a large bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and cornstarch, blending well.  Pour in apples, cover, and shake until all the apples are coated.  Pour into the prepared crust.

In a small bowl, combine the caramel sauce and pecans.  Pour evenly over the apple mixture.  Top with second crust, crimping the edges together firmly.  Cut 4-5 1 inch slits in the top to vent.

Bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350, and bake for an additional 35-45 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.  Remove; let stand for 30 minutes.  Serve with whipped cream, if desired.  Serves 8.

DUTCH APPLE CRUMB PIE

7-10 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (use a variety for best flavor)
1 frozen pie crust, thawed
1 cup sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, semi-cold

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a 9 inch pie plate, lay out the first crust, fitting to pan.  Dock bottom lightly with a fork.  Pour sliced apples into crust, mounding in middle.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and clove, then sprinkle over the apples.  Sprinkle lemon juice over top.

In a medium bowl, combine remaining sugar, flour, and butter using pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Cover the entire pie with the crumble mixture.

Bake on a baking sheet for 40-45 minutes (if it starts to brown too much, tent with foil).  Remove and allow to cool completely.  Serves 8.

There you are folks...a slice of American life, and a yummy addition to ANY table.  ENJOY!!!





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