How to Apple Pie

When cooking, I try my best to keep the kitchen clean as I work. As we go through the steps, I’ll highlight my ‘keeping it clean’ tips.
The cookbook I use most is Joy of Cooking.   joy_o_cooking  The current edition (found in the link) is the 75th edition. I use the one my mother gave me for Christmas many years ago. It’s stained and a bit lopsided. My mother is gone now and the book has her writing in it – I always think of her when I’m using it. I use the Apple Pie II recipe. When making an apple pie, you can either put the apples into bake raw or precook them. The Apple Pie II recipe is the one from my edition using precooked apples. I like it because the apples don’t shrink during baking so the top crust sits right on top of the apples instead of having an air gap between them.

Step 1 – Peel, core and slice the apples into a large bowl.  As the recipe says – don’t cut these too thin or they’ll get mushy.   raw_slices

Tip: you can do this ahead of time — just put the apples into a zip lock bag and sprinkle some lemon juice over them to keep them from browning. When precooking the apples, browning doesn’t matter but your kids might want to sneak a slice before you can make the pie. (I always cut more than needed for the pie itself)

Step 2 – Assemble your ingredients. For the seasonings, I measure them out into a small bowl. ready_seasonings  If you’re looking at the recipe, you’ll notice I use nutmeg and a touch of cloves in addition to the cinnamon. You can add your seasonings to taste; be careful not to overpower the cinnamon.

Step 3 – Cook the filling. You’ll melt butter in your pan and add the apples. The recipe says to let them cook for about 7 minutes. I prefer a slightly crunchier apple so I only let them cook about 3 minutes. Then add your sugar and seasonings. Let this boil (stirring) until the syrup is thick. To test if the syrup is done, use a wooden spoon and let it drip back into the pan. syrup_drip_1 syrup_drip_2

When the drip is thick and slow, it is ready.

Step 4 – Cool the apple mix. TIP: To keep this from being a hard clean up, I put foil onto a baking sheet and spread the apple mix out to cool. Put the sheet onto a wire rack so the mix will cool faster. cooked_cool The apples will take about 15 minutes to cool.

Step 5: Prepare to bake.

  • Put your bottom crust in the pie dish. TIP: Smooth the dough against the sides and make sure there is some dough above/over the edge all the way around.
  • Preheat the oven. TIP: The recipe says to preheat at the beginning. Since I’m not Ms. Speedy, I find this wastes a lot of energy. If you preheat at this point, you should be ready to pop the pie into the oven when the preheat is finished.
  • Prepare the topping. This isn’t in the recipe. Separate an egg, reserving the white into bowl. Make some cinnamon and sugar mix. TIP: I make about a cup of this and keep it in a container. It’s awesome on buttered toast for breakfast too.
  • When the apples are cooler (they’ll still be a bit warm – that’s OK), put them into crust in the pie pan. TIP: To make the transfer from the sheet into the crust easy and clean, pick up the edges of the foil lengthways and funnel the apples into the crust. You won’t spill any and the baking sheet just need a quick rinse (or not).
  • Put the top crust onto the pie. You should have an even amount of dough overhanging the edges all the way around. Now fold the top edge under the bottom overhang and pinch all the way around. The recipe says to put water on the edge before doing this — I usually don’t. You can then make a decorate edge using a fork to press it down all around or you can crimp it (pinching with thumb and two fingers).
  • Put the glaze on. I do this because it makes the top shiny and I like the extra pop of sugar and cinnamon. Using a brush, brush the egg white over the whole top and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mix.

Step 6: Bake. I use a pie crust protector during the baking period. I have a metal one but you can make one out of foil.

Step 7: Cool. The pie has to cool for at least 4 hours. This allows the syrup to ‘set’. This is what keeps the pie from spilling out when you cut a slice. Put the pie on a wire rack to cool.

Step 8: Enjoy

The last TIP: I cut individual slices and freeze them. They are so good for lunch at work — just pop in the microwave for about 30 seconds and viola Pie!

Crock A Roast

Here are the steps I use to crockpot a roast:

  1. Chop the veggies
    carrot_cel_save        frozen_vadalia I usually clean and chop a bunch of veggies at one time – this saves time during the week. I put the carrots and celery I’m not using right away in a plastic tub with water. The second pic is frozen valdalia onions. When they are in season, I chop pounds of them, wrap them in individual plastic packets and then double bag them in freezer bags. They are great for use in cooking – not in raw preps. CLEAN UP TIP: I use a plastic bag to collect all the prep trash as I work — easy to throw away and keeps the kitchen clean! prep_trash
  2. Put the veggies into the crock pot – they need to go on the bottom. Don’t plug the crock in yet. veg_crock
  3. Next make a marinade for the meat (you could do this before chopping the veggies if you wish). roast_marinade For this marinade I use garlic powder, nutmeg, torn up bay leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil. Rinse the roast and pat dry. Put the roast into the marinade and coat all sides of the roast.
  4. Sear the roast on all sides. Heat the pan until drops of water sizzle away and then put the roast in – make sure you watch it and turn it to another side after it gets a nice color – don’t burn it. roast_sear2 
  5. Put the roast atop the veggies in the crock roast_veg_crock
  6. Add some liquid. Here is where I cheat :) . I use a can of Campbell’s Chunky Soup with another half can of water. Imparts alot of flavor without much fat!chunky_soup
  7. Put the lid on the crockpot and set to Low for 6 hours. roast_crock_time
  8. Remove the roast and let it rest for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, transfer the veggies and broth into a large serving dish.
  9. Slice the roast as you wish and place atop the veggies and broth.
  10. Serve with your favorite starch – mashed potatoes, noodles or stuffing. Note: if you used potatoes in the crockpot, you won’t need a side starch.

Enjoy

Day of Pie

I love to bake; once in a while a spending an entire day cooking and baking. On this day, three pies was the goal. I cut them into lunch size portions and freeze them for work day lunches. Here they are:

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From left – Chicken, shepard’s, and apple.

I used pre-made crusts (I’m not crazy :) ). For the chicken (my own receipe)  I poached and diced up two pounds of skinless, boneless breasts. For the sauce I used one can each of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom and added some diced celery, carrots, onions and frozen peas. I added some rosemary, thyme, sage, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Bake and viola! Chicken pie.

I’m very much enjoying nutmeg these days.

For the shepard’s I followed a recipe from Dec 12 issue of Martha Stewart Living magazine. It’s actually a beef stew. I used beef filet. It’s covered with a combo of mashed carrots and potatoes. Yummy. However, the mash didn’t freeze and thaw very well for lunch. In the future I’ll probably just bake the stew and take a piece of bread with it for lunch.

The apple pie is based on my favorite cook book – The Joy of Cooking. I do like the crust to be more flavorful – so before baking, I brush the top with egg white and then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top. You can’t really tell from this picture but it makes the top shiny.

Here’s my freezer awaiting the new arrivals:

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I estimate each portion saves me about $10 a day for lunch at work. Nice and good