Manic Kitchen Maniac Part I (apples)

Some days I can cook lots and lots of things in one day, if I set some time aside that is.  Yesterday was one of them.  We had been given a huge bag of apples from my son’s preschool teacher (her trees were dropping them faster than she could collect them) so I decided to make apple pie.  And apple sauce.  And cinnamon rolls earlier from a white dough I’d started the day before plus one loaf of spelt-white bread and a little boule from the left-over white dough.  And then I thought, why stop?  Since I’d already roasted a butternut squash the night before, and didn’t make them then, I  decided to make raviolis to bring to a friend’s… plus it was nicer than sorting and folding the laundry piled up on my bed.  

The cinnamon rolls I made from a Mark Bittman recipe using the bread dough that I often make; but I think next time I’ll use a different dough, either making it flakier or chewier.  It just wasn’t right, or all that wonderful, so that’s a fail on my part, but the kids still liked them.  Not many kids wouldn’t— they were warm, sweet and cinnamon-y.   But to get them out of the way in my little kitchen of the other baking and cooking, I threw them in the oven, which I reheated for bread and pie.  Oops.  The photo is post reheat. 

Since I had the Mark Bittman How to Cook Everything cookbook out, I used it for my pie crust and as a basis for the ravioli filling. So after cinnamon rolls were made and bread was sitting on my island getting in its last rise, I started on the pie crust.  The recipe was fairly easy using my food processor, although I must have put my dough into the freezer longer than the time suggested in his recipe since it was too hard from to work with easily (rolling) and it just added time and frustration.  Luckily I wasn’t doing my PMS induced Mommy Dearest impression, that was a day earlier, I was much easier going in— except for the fact that I was in a cooking frenzy, it was still a happy go-lucky frenzy.  When I was finished mixing the crust dough I put the bread into the oven and started on making the pie filling.  I have been making apple pies for several years and use my own recipe (but I’m sure it’s just like many others). 

Apple Pie Filling

  • 6-8 apples depending on size (using Macintosh-type use 8, Granny Smiths 6)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Tbsp flour
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (plus more in water for keeping apples from browning)
  • 1 Tbsp butter cut into small pieces

So that the apples will keep their lovely color after I peel them I put them in a bowl of cold water with some lemon juice squeezed in and the piece from which it came.  After peeling the apples, I cut them in half and scoop out the core with a melon-baller and cut out the ends in a triangle cut. I find it retains the most apple and creates even sized wedges for the pie.  Once apples are peeled and cut, in a separate bowl mix the spices, sugar and flour.  Toss apples with spice mixture, add lemon juice then pour into the crust.  Add small pieces of butter around the top of pie filling. Add top crust, pinch closed (brush bottom crust with water to help seal) and score to release hot air.

I baked this one at 350 for 15 minutes then increased temp to 450 for 20 minutes then back down to 350 for last 20 minutes only because I had forgotten to start it off at higher temp until 15 minutes in!  You can bake it at 450 first then lower it for rest of time. 

While pie was in the oven and bread was on counter cooling (I’d taken them out just minutes before pie went it) I made the apple sauce.  My mother-in-law taught me how to make it and it’s the best I’ve ever had.  I cut about 12 apples into chunks, leaving out core and ends but leaving on the peel, and placed in a large sauce pan.  Add 2 tbsp water, 1/4 cup of brown sugar/white sugar and  1 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Mix well then cover.  Heat over med-high heat for about 7 minutes, stir and reduce to med-low heat.  Stirring often, cook apples until they’ve reduced in size and are mushy, about 20-25 minutes.  Place a food mill over a bowl, pour cooked apples into mill and grind them through.  Ready to eat!

Now at this point I was hemming and hawing over laundry or continue cooking, but since I had the food mill out and I really wanted to attempt making them (plus some encouragement from friends over facebook), I stuck with cooking and made the ravioli. 

To be continued…