Cran-apple Pie for Pi Day
Because you can never have ENOUGH pie crust recipes, I gave this one a try … half unsalted butter and half lard. The blogger who posted the recipe, used shortening, which I didn’t have, as she claims that using the two different fats takes advantage of the best characteristics of each.
Sweet Pie … apple and quince filling
I haven’t bought quinces in years and at the exorbitant price of the imported ones ($2.49 each), I wasn’t about to make a whole pie out of them. But, I was able to combine one perfectly poached quince (green bumpy looking fruit on the right in the picture below) with three Braeburn apples (on sale at $1.15 a pound) to produce a tasty filling to test out my latest pie crust recipe.
The pie recipe I used was based on this one with some changes. I’ve included it below so it’s all in one place.
Apple-Quince Pie – makes 1 9-inch pie, serves 6 generously or 8 more moderately
pie pastry, enough for a top and bottom crust
1-2 lg quinces, peeled and diced *
1 cup water
3-4 tbsp honey
pinch of salt
Rest of Filling
3-4 lg apples, peeled and diced**
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
* 1 quince (~250 gm)
** 3 apples (~675 gm), Braeburns
Poaching the quince/s
Combine the water, sugar, salt and diced quince(s). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the quinces are crisp-tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove the fruit to a large bowl and let cool. Continue cooking the liquid, uncovered, until it reduces to about 1/4 cup.
Preheat the oven to 500 deg F with a rimmed baking sheet on the lowest shelf level.
Making the filling
In a small bowl, combine the sugars, flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Add the chopped apples to the bowl with the cooled quince. Sprinkle the sugar/flour/spice mixture over the fruit and gently stir in the thickened quince liquid. Pour the filling into the pie bottom.
Add the top crust, seal and crimp the edges. Cut slashes in the crust.
Place the pie dish on the preheated baking sheet, turn the heat down to 425 deg F and bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Reduce the heat to 375 deg F and continue cooking until the filling bubbles and the crust is golden brown, another 45-55 min.
Remove the pie pan to a cooling rack until it’s come to room temperature. Refrigerate for AT LEAST 2 hrs and preferably overnight before cutting into the pie.
Savoury Tart … spinach and paneer (cheese) tart
Because I’m a cheap frugal home cook, I rolled out the trimmings from the apple and quince pie to form a top crust for a spinach and paneer tart. For the base, I used a mini pie shell from the freezer. It was made with the leftover pastry from my PREVIOUS pie bake … a nectarine crumble.
I wasn’t sure how much filling I would need so I threw together something that came out pretty well.
Spinach and Paneer Tart – makes 1 mini pie, enough for 2 generous servings
pie pastry, enough for a bottom crust, divided in half
1/2 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry (~64 gm)
140 gm paneer cheese, crumbled
2 large eggs
2 tbsp whipping cream, or regular milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg.
Preheat oven to 425 deg Fahrenheit. Adjust the shelf in the oven so it’s at the lowest position. Place a baking sheet in the oven so that it will preheat as well.
Roll out the dough for the base. Line a disposable aluminum mini pie tin leaving about 1/2 inch of excess pastry. Roll out the top so there’s about an inch of excess pastry.
Assemble the filling ingredients. Fill the base, add the top crust, folding over and crimping closed. Cut several slits for the steam to escape.
Place the tart on the baking sheet. Bake for 40-45 minutes until the crust is golden brown.
REVIEW: I found that the pie crust recipe lived up to its name … it IS both flaky and buttery. It’s easy to make, tasty and will remain in my recipe collection. The fillings of both the sweet and savoury variations were delicious as well.
My pantry is rather sparse in terms of dessert ingredients, other than the basics. And my fruit crisper drawer is limited to a few apples (Red Delicious), so when I was planning on a seasonal fruit-based dessert for Thanksgiving (I don’t like pumpkin), the pickings were slim.
I decided on a single serving dessert that could be made and served in a cup sized ramekin.
I was intrigued by two possibilities and, rather than decide, I made them both. I included blueberries from the freezer in the apple crumble for colour and bit of extra flavour. The original apple crumble dessert recipe also used rhubarb.
Blueberry Pudding Cake
Blueberry Pudding Cake – serves 1
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries*
1 tsp lemon juice
* If using frozen blueberries, do not thaw.
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 tbsp sugar**
2 1/2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp melted butter or margarine
** I tried 2 tbsp and thought it needed a bit more sugar next time.
1 tsp cornstarch
2 – 2 1/2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup boiling water
Preheat the oven to 350 deg Fahrenheit.
Use a ramekin that holds a bit more than 1 cup. Place onto a baking sheet for ease of transport and in case of boil overs.
Place the blueberries in the bottom of the ramekin and sprinkle the lemon juice over the top. Stir a bit to coat the blueberries.
In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the milk and melted butter and stir until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Gently spoon the cake batter in a layer over the top of the blueberries.
In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cornstarch. Spoon evenly over the top of the cake batter.
Carefully pour the boiling water over the top, then place the baking sheet with the ramekin on it into the oven. (NOTE: This was the tricky bit for me as the water threatened to overflow the ramekin. I had to pour some water in, wait for it to trickle down through the edges of the batter and into the blueberries below, finding any available spaces, before adding some more. There was a bit of overflow during baking, making the baking sheet underneath a smart idea.)
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or pouring custard/Creme Anglaise.
Apple and Blueberry Crumble – serves 1
1 large apple, peeled, cored and chopped
2 tbsp blueberries
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp rolled oats or sliced almonds*
2-3 tbsp sugar
* I didn’t have any rolled oats in the pantry so I added the almonds for texture and bulk.
Preheat the oven to 350-360 deg F/180°C. Lightly oil a 1 cup ramekin with a neutral tasting oil like canola. Place the ramekin onto a baking sheet for ease of transport and in case of boil overs.
Place the prepared apple and blueberries in a bowl. Sprinkle the lemon juice over the top of the fruit; add the brown sugar and stir through. Place the fruit into the ramekin, packing down a bit as needed.
Place the flour, butter, sugar and oats in a medium bowl. Use your fingers or a fork, rub in the butter until it’s well combined and large crumbs form.
Sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the topping is golden and bubbling.
Serve with sweetened whipped cream, ice cream or pouring custard/Creme Anglaise.
I went a little overboard this year and bought a pre-cooked 5 kg honey-glazed spiral cut ham for my Thanksgiving meal. It cost me $22 CDN and I figure I’ll get at least ten meals out of it so it was definitely a good purchase, price wise.
I had a wonderful lie in this morning, and hadn’t done the math needed to figure out how long it would take to re-heat this monster, ahead of time. It turned out to be almost THREE HOURS, with the enclosed glaze being brushed on for the last half hour. Next time I’d up the temperature to AT LEAST 300 deg or even 325 deg, from the 275 deg F written on the wrappings, because, even after the maximum roasting time recommended, it was still only lukewarm inside. So I sliced off and reheated the portion I ate in the microwave. By this point, it was 6 pm. And I was VERY hungry.
The ham was tasty and moist, but the potato and onion gratin was the star of the show, in my opinion. I started out with this recipe, and then made some changes. Because I was starved, I served myself about one quarter of the dish and by the time I was finished, I was so full, that I almost didn’t have room for dessert.
Cause this was a great looking dessert.
I wanted to make some sort of seasonal fruit dessert for Thanksgiving, but all I had in the house were three apples (Red Delicious) in the crisper drawer, and some blueberries in the freezer. I decided on an apple crumble (with sliced almonds in the crust because I didn’t have any rolled oats in the pantry) with a couple of tablespoons of the blueberries added for a bit of colour. I’ll post my recipe for an individual apple crumble in a future post. As well as for an individual blueberry pudding cake I made.
Potato and Onion Gratin
Potato and Onion Gratin – serves 6-8
1 medium (~300 gm) sweet potato, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick *
1 medium white/yellow (~100 gm) Russet potato, peeled, halved and sliced about 1/4 inch thick*
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced (1/8-1/4 inch thick)
~4 oz (125 gm) cream cheese, cubed
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp dried thyme
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup milk
4 strips of cooked bacon, thinly sliced (about 1/4 inch thick)
* Use all sweet potatoes or white potatoes, if preferred, or if that’s all that you have available.
1/2 cup grated old cheddar cheese
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup fried onions
Combine topping ingredients in a shallow dish.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg Fahrenheit.
Lightly oil a medium sized baking dish with a neutral oil like canola. (Spray with a cooking spray if you prefer.)
Cover the base of the baking dish evenly with about 1/3 of your sliced potatoes. Scatter about half of the sliced onions over the potatoes. Make another layer of potatoes, and then scatter the remaining onions over the top. Finish with the last of the potatoes.
Place the cubed cream cheese in a medium sized, microwave safe bowl, and warm just long enough to soften the cheese. Whisk/stir in the flour and the dried thyme. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, a bit at a time, until it’s smoothly combined with the cheese and flour mixture. Whisk in the milk.
Pour the cream cheese/broth/milk mixture over the layered potatoes and onions. Scatter the bacon over the top. Put the lid on the casserole dish and bake for 45 minutes.
Take the lid off the casserole dish, scatter the topping evenly over the casserole and return to the oven. Bake uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the bread crumbs are golden brown.
Let rest for 10-15 minutes, then serve.
I love egg rolls but haven’t ever made any myself until this past weekend when I brought home a package of wrappers and enough inspiration to try both a sweet and savoury filling.
For the sweet filling, I made up a batch of cinnamon-apple caramel syrup which I’d showed in the July roundup and used to fill wonton cups and as a topping for pancakes. I didn’t post the recipe then so I’m including it below, with the addition of 1/2 cup of raisins for added flavour.
If using this filling in egg rolls, drain off any excess liquid, as you want a dry-ish mixture so your wrappers won’t get soggy.
Cinnamon Apple Caramel Syrup – makes ~4 cups
4 large (6 cups) Granny Smith apples
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4-1/2 cup water
3-4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
squeeze of lemon (~1 tsp)
Peel, then quarter the apples. Cut out the core and cut each quarter into 3 or 4 chunks or slices, depending on what you’re going to use it for.
Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl.
Place the remaining ingredients into a saucepan along with the apple slices and cornstarch mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until the apple is tender (but not mushy) and the sauce has thickened to a syrup consistency.
Depending on the amount of juice in your apples, you may need to add a splash of water to get the syrup to your desired consistency. When ready, set aside and keep warm.
The savoury egg rolls were pretty amazing too. I used a jarred sweet Thai chili sauce but next time, the dip below is great too.
Turkey/Cabbage Egg Rolls – makes 6 cups of filling, enough for 36 egg rolls
Egg Roll Filling:
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey**, chicken, pork or beef
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp fresh ginger, freshly grated or finely diced**
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup onion, finely diced
1 14 oz bag coleslaw mix
1/3 cup celery, finely diced
1/3 cup carrot, finely diced
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
EDITED: Add 1-2 cups of bean sprouts to filling along with the coleslaw mixture.
Egg wash to seal egg rolls – 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp of cold water
36 egg roll wrappers (2 pkgs of 18)
vegetable oil for frying
Dipping sauce recipe follows
Prepare a baking sheet by covering with a couple of thicknesses of paper towel and setting a cooling rack on top.
In a large saute pan, brown the meat in the vegetable oil. Add the 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Remove the meat from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving as much of the oil behind as possible.
Add the diced onion, ginger and garlic and fry until the onion starts to get lightly browned.
Add the cabbage mix, carrots and celery, mix and cover and cook until the cabbage is wilted and crisp-tender, 2-3 minutes. Add the seasoned cooked meat. Stir in the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste. If additional salt is needed, add another 1/4 tsp or so.
Cool to room temperature before filling egg rolls. Drain off any excess liquid that may accumulate on the bottom.
NOTE: You may refrigerate this mixture until the next day if you need to put off filling and frying the eggrolls. Otherwise, freeze the mixture and thaw in the refrigerator before using.
Prepare a deep fryer with oil, it should be about 2 inches deep and 350 to 375 degrees F. You can also shallow fry the egg rolls in a cast iron frying pan. I found that 1 inch of oil was plenty in that case. Since I couldn’t measure the temperature with my thermometer, I turned the temperature knob on my stove to medium (5) and preheated for at least 15 minutes so it would get to the correct temperature. I dropped a very small cube of bread into the oil and checked how quickly it began to brown … almost immediately, so I turned the heat down to 4. Make certain your oil is hot enough. Slow cooked egg rolls will be greasy.
Lay a wrapper with the points of the wrapper facing you, like a diamond. With a pastry brush, paint a thin strip of the egg wash around all four edges of the wrapper.
Take a heaping tablespoon or two of the mixture and place it on the wrapper.
Fold over the bottom point of the wrapper, and tuck the mixture in, as tightly as you can manage, and continue to roll until you have a few inches of the wrapper exposed. Fold over the two outside edges, and press down to seal in the filling.
Continue rolling until the top point seals the roll.
Repeat until all of the egg rolls are finished.
Carefully add about four or five of the egg rolls into your heated oil and fry for a couple of minutes, or until golden brown. Turn if frying in the pan to make sure the second side browns as well.
Remove the egg rolls with tongs, draining as much of the oil as possible, and allow to cool on the cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining egg rolls.
Serve with the dipping sauce below or any commercial sauces ie. sweet Thai chili sauce, sweet and sour sauce or plum sauce.
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 tbsp honey
1 – 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Combine all ingredients in a bowl.