Melissa Clark came to the Texas Book Festival recently to to demo a recipe from her new book, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I love Melissa’s writing and was thrilled to catch her session. I’m happy to report that she is as engaging and entertaining in person as she is in her column.
I waited until the festival to get the book so that I could have her sign my copy, which she obligingly did. I then further waited to crack the book because I wanted to save it for our trip to Portland. I rarely find uninterrupted reading time and have an ever-growing stack of books, cook books, and magazines to be read (not to mention my Google Reader and the number of blog posts I need to catch up on). I knew I’d want to read this book cover-to-cover and, for a bookworm like me, a couple of long plane rides presented the perfect opportunity.
As a fellow lover of pie and tarts (((and parentheses!!!))), my favorite chapter of the book was entitled, “There’s Always Room for Pie (and Tarts).” When I read over Melissa’s recipe for the perfect pie crust, mental wheels started turning and I knew I’d be making a pie of some variety shortly after I returned home.
The very first dish I ate in Portland, a green apple and cheddar soup at Park Kitchen that was to die for, providied inspiration for the type of pie to bake. Apple cheddar pie sounded divine!
And it was. Too divine, in fact. It was barely out of the oven before I had cut a slice. The first slice was so good, I cut another. Then Eric came home and he had a slice. He confirmed that it was indeed as divine as I thought.
I think you get my drift… this pie didn’t stick around very long but it sure was good while it lasted!
Apple Cheddar Pie
In homage to Oregon and its amazing bounty and flavors, I used Granny Smith apples and Tillamook cheddar cheese. I was a little worried about the tartness of the Granny Smith apples so when I hit upon a recipe from Williams-Sonoma’s website that called for tempering their tartness by mixing in a smaller amount of another apple variety, I was set. I already had some nice, sweet Texas-grown Cameo apples on hand that worked perfectly. And I have to agree with Melissa, this pie crust is light, flaky and buttery perfection.
Perfect Pie Crust
adapted from Melissa Clark’s In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite
Yield: Two 9-inch single pie crusts
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
1.5 t salt 1 1/2 c cheddar cheese, grated
16 T unsalted butter, preferably a high-fat, European-style butter like Plugra, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces 4 to 10 T ice water
1. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt a few times to combine. Add the grated cheddar and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add chilled, cubed butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse after each addition. Only add enough water until the mixture is just moist enough to hold together.
2. Divide the dough into two equal halves and form the halves into balls, wrap with plastic, and flatten into disks. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking.
adapted from Williams-Sonoma.com
2 1/4 lb. Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
1 1/4 lb. Cameo apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices 1/4 inch thick
3/4 c turbinado (raw cane) sugar
1 T fresh lemon juice
3/4 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 t salt 1 T unsalted butter
3 T cornstarch
2 T heavy cream (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine the apples, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
2. Remove one of the dough disks from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick. Brush off excess flour. Roll the dough over the pin and carefully transfer to a buttered pie dish. Line the pie dish with dough by lifting and gently pressing into the dish. Trim the edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Use a slotted spoon to remove the apples from the bowl and reserve the juices. Pour the juices into a small saucepan and add the butter. Cook over medium-high heat, until reduced to 1/3 cup, approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
4. Sprinkle cornstarch over the apples and toss to combine, then stir in the reduced juices. Transfer the apples to the pie shell.
5. Remove the last dough disk from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round about 3/16 inch thick. Drape the dough over the apples and press gently to eliminate any air pockets. Trim the dough flush with the rim of the dish. Fold the bottom crust over the top crust and crimp to form a decorative edge. Cut 4 slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape. If desired, brush the top of the crust with the cream.