Tis’ the season for apples (and yes we have an apple pie recipe today!), pumpkins, root veggies and the like – and last but not least it’s the start of the holiday season. Bring on Halloween, Christmas and New Years….but for me Thanksgivings always seems a bit of an unidentifiable day off dedicated to eating turkey, which I question my taste for on a good day. The minute black Friday rolls around the retailers will switch on the Christmas Carols and unload the tinsel, trimmings and trappings. Bah humbug right? Wrong. I am using this Thanksgiving to truly examine the meaning of the word thankful and try to incorporate it.
Over the weekend my partner played Tim Minchin’s graduation address from 1998. In his speech Minchin offers some heart felt advice. There are three particular that moved me.
1. Passionately dedicate yourself to short term goals. Do the best job you can on the things you are currently working on.
2. Don’t think too much about happiness – it’s an overrated and elusive concept – and finally
3. Acknowledge that we are incredibly lucky.
Love, love, love his sentiments. So now what? Maybe we just embrace the old cooking concept that sweet isn’t as sweet without the salty and the sour. May you and yours savour all that is family this Thanksgiving.
Here are a few of my favourite things:
Old Fashioned Deep Dish Apple Pie (Filling)
5 1/2 pounds ginger crisp apples (you can also use granny smith or empire)
1 large lemon (juiced)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ginger
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3 tablespoons of butter (cut into small pieces)
* Preheat oven to 375
* Note: I like my pie super “cinnamon-y”. You may want to reduce this to 2 teaspoons if you are spice sensitive.
Prepare the apples: peel, core and cut into 1/2 inch slices. Quickly toss the apple slices with lemon juice. This will provide a nice flavour and the apples will not turn brown. Sift together the spices, flour and salt. Pour over the apples and toss until they are evenly coated with the mixture. Scoop the mixture into the prepared crust. “Dot” the pieces of butter over the top of the apples.
Old Fashioned Deep Dish Crust as adapted from Ruth’s Grandma’s Pie Crust AllRecipes.com
4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups of Earth Balance Shortening
3 tablespoons white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 egg white (to glaze the pie crust)
2 tablespoons of white sugar (to sprinkle on crust)
1/3 – 1/2 cup water
I am a shortening girl. This is one of the few recipes where I prefer shortening over butter. I buy Earth Balance to try to mitigate my conscientious objections – but it truly makes for a lovely flaky crust. Combine the sugar, flour and salt then cut in the cold shortening with a pastry cutter. If you do not have one you can use the old fashioned two knife method. To be honest I was in a rush and used my kitchen aid whisk attachment. You can push it into the shortening and pulse it until you have pea sized pieces of shortening and flour. If you opt for this method be sure not to over work the dough or it will be tough.
When the flour and shortening mixture is ready, whisk the egg and water together and blend into the flour mixture. Beware: If you have a large egg you may need slightly less water. Blend only long enough to make a smooth soft dough. Try to handle as little as possible to avoid building gluten bonds.
Split the dough in half and make a round ball. Flatten it slightly on a floured surface and roll out to 1/8th of an inch thick (ideally you want a circle that is about 12 inches in diameter but I am always less specific). Lay the dough in the bottom of a deep dish pan. Trim the excess off of the plate (leaving 1/4 of an inch for the crust). Then make a ball out of the other half and repeat this process and lay the second crust on top of the apple mixture once again trimming the excess dough.
This is a very generous crust recipe. A truly frugal gourmet would probably have enough left over for a small single crust pie. Leaving extra dough during the trimming process allows you to build up a solid crust. You can “flute” the edges by pushing the excess dough between your thumb and index finger to form a scalloped edge. The scalloped edges should be about 1 inch apart. I used the extra dough to create a braided crust and cut outs for my pie. Use your imagination and go crazy;)
Before you bake the crust use a pastry brush and paint it with a thin coating of egg white (be sure not to let it pool in the crevices). This will give the crust a warm golden brown sheen. Sprinkle with white sugar for added crunch. Make sure there are small vent holes in the crust. You can add them by poking the crust with a sharp knife. Some people make beautiful cut-out designs.
Bake in the oven for approximately 50 minutes at 400 degrees. You will see the sugar start to bubble up when it’s ready.