Monday, September 29, 2008

Recipe: Yankee Apple Pie

Nothing is more American than baseball, hot dogs and apple pie right? Well sort of. The way I understand it, baseball was actually based on an older British game called rounders. Hot dogs also came from a foreign land-Germany. The Germans do more things with weiners and sausage than my sausage-craving-friend Andy could ever hope to try. Finally, apple pie, that most American self-identified food, alas, the Europeans were making it long before they came here and stole all the land from the natives.

Don't let this bum you out though. Things like this happen all over the world and all through history! Take Italy for instance. What kind of food comes to mind when you think of Italy? Pizza and pasta right? Well, pizza found its way to Italy via the flatbreads of the Moorish invaders. Pasta? That's all Chinese, kiddies! What is pasta without sauce right? Well tomatoes were unknown in Italy and Europe until the Europeans found their way to the New World! Central and South American Indians were making sauces from tomatoes thousands of years before an Italian even knew what pasta was! The same can be said for many cultures dishes, many find their origins in other places and cultures.

So lighten your hearts countrymen and countrywomen! Rounders is lame! It had to be turned into something better! Guess who did that? Americans! We made it so popular with our changes that it is widely played throughout the Americas, the Caribbean and Asia! Similarly the hot dog has transcended its Germanic origins due entirely to its popularity in the United States (I do believe we added the bun!). We do more things with hot dogs alone than some Asian cultures do with rice!

Finally, there's apple pie. Sure it had its beginning in Europe, but those old recipes pale in comparison to the kicked up and spiced up version that American colonial women created when they naturalized and immortalized that dish as one of the New World's premier dessert dishes.

In this day and age with the internet, overnight delivery and an ever-shrinking world, I have friends in South Korea who dream about trying fresh baked American apple pie! Really! If they ever visit, this is the recipe I will use to bake them their first apple pie. I'll serve it to them with big scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream as well! Then I'll pour a big glass of champagne for myself and ask them to pronounce things from a Portuguese restaurant menu.

There are a lot of opinions where apple pie is concerned. Some folks say a blend of tart and sweet apples works best, others will mumble about the amount of spices, etc. For the sake of originality and variation I say experiment. Starting out with Macintosh's or Cortlands doesn't hurt and I've upped and downed the various spices as well. Experiment future pie makers! Experiment!

Yankee Apple Pie

5 lbs of Macintosh or Cortland apples (peeled and sliced into wedges)
1-2/3 cup of sugar
6 TBS all-purpose flour
2-4 TBS brown sugar
3-4 tsp of ground cinnamon (use your own judgement here)
1/2 tsp of ground allspice
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBS of fresh lemon juice
1 large egg (beaten)
Either purchase or prepare enough dough for two pie crusts (tops and bottoms).

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a large pan over low heat, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and sugars.

When the spice and sugar combination is well combined, add the apple wedges and lemon juice (if using) to the spice mixture and toss to coat. Leave in the pan, tossing frequently until the sugars begin to liquify and glaze the apple wedges. BE CAREFUL NOT TO BURN.

Remove pie filling mixture from heat.

Carefully unfold or roll out the pie dough and place in the bottoms of two pie pans.

Fill each pie with pie mixture. Mixture should heap a little to the center of the pie.

Carefully cover each pie with another piece of dough sealing the seams with a little beaten egg. Press pie edges together firmly. Brush the exposed pie dough with beaten egg.

Cut 3 small vent holes in the top of each pie and place them in the oven at 450°F for about 20 minutes. Then lower the heat to 375°F and continue cooking until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool.

Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.

Apple pie chop onions, boil water

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