Pad Thai and Sautéed Apple Pie

I got a good piece of advice today that I do believe I’ll take: name the new computer John Cusack. How could I not fall madly in love with it then? And accept any faults or shortcomings because love is blind? Not that JC has any faults OR shortcomings, of course.

(It must be the software’s fault that I can’t install it in order to upload photos from my camera – it freezes two thirds of the way through the installation process every time.) The index, by the way, is one I put back last night from the html code I managed to cut and paste as I realized the entire thing disappeared each time I hit save. So I created a new page and pasted it back in, but still have to pick through and separate each link. It’s too bad I require sleep – I could get so much more done.

But enough about that. I realized today that I was likely so cranky because I’ve been disconnected, as if telling you all about my food is a big part of the enjoyment (as is the eating part, which I’m also largely missing).

Dinner tonight was Pad Thai. I wanted a big bowl of something kind of crunchy and salty, and the great thing about Pad Thai (besides the fact that it’s so delicious) is that you can cut the noodles with bean sprouts and have a giant bowl of what seems like all noodles, but which is actually have sprouts. Which are basically water – not much in the way of nutrients, but not many calories, either. You can find a recipe, and even a photo, back at Day 205. (Last night I made a weird sort of lamb stew in the slow cooker, with roasted red peppers and apricots and butternut squash, that didn’t taste quite as good as it sounds. I forgot that I don’t really like using cinnamon with lamb – it reminds me of something medieval – like the cinnamon is a primitive attempt to mask gaminess or smelly meat.)

But I really wanted to tell you about that apple pie I made on Tuesday – it was Inauguration Day and so on CBC they requested apple pie. I have nothing against apple pie, and it does make a mighty fine breakfast, but as a topic of conversation it’s not exactly titillating. Everyone knows apple pie already. So I thumbed through a few of the most classically American resources I could think of – Martha, the White House Cookbook, the New York Times – and in the Times found an old recipe from 2001 called ‘sautéed apple pie’, in which you sauté the apples before you fill the pie crust.

I thought it was an interesting concept, but had no idea how much it would change my pie-baking life. It’s brilliant, really – you cook the sliced apples in a hot skillet with a bit of butter (and oil – I changed it a bit), sprinkle them with a little sugar and cinnamon as you go, and the apples cook down in the pan, rather than in the pie. Typically apples in a pie steam, and shrink as they cook, leaving a bit of a gap between fruit and crust. Sautéeing them – caramelizing them – intensifies their flavours and turns them all golden with crispy bits, which produces, believe you me, a phenomenal pie. Just make sure you cool the apples first (spread them out on a cookie sheet to do this quickly) before you put them into the raw pastry shell. The result is dense, intense; apple pie extreme. When I brought it to the studio it disappeared in record time, the recipients’ eyes rolling into the backs of their heads. I love finding new ways to make familiar things – things you’ve been making for so long you don’t really consider how it might be improved upon. This sautéed apple pie (I think it should be renamed caramelized apple pie, don’t you? I just love the idea of anything being caramelized) is like roasted potato salad – with the potatoes roasted in the leftover bacon drippings from the crispy bacon you set aside to crumble in right before serving. If you want to win friends and influence people, make them roasted potato salad and a caramelized apple pie.

The apple pie and gritty vanilla gelato (that had such an odd flavour none of us could identify it – the closest I could come was some sort of tea) we had for lunch yesterday at… a restaurant… that cost $11 and we didn’t even finish (people, this never happens) was further reminder of how good it was. I wanted to go straight into the back and give the pastry chef the recipe.

Sautéed Apple Pie

adapted from the New York Times, 2001

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. canola oil
5 lbs. apples (10-12), peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

pastry for double crust pie
cream, for brushing (optional)
coarse sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

In a large skillet, heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add the apples, sprinkle with sugar and sauté, turning occasionally, about 10 minutes or until tender and lightly caramelized. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (If you don’t have a skillet large enough to hold all the apples, do this in two stages or in two skillets.) Spread apples on a platter or cookie sheet to cool.

Preheat oven to 400F. Divide pastry in two slightly unequal halves; roll out the larger piece on a lightly floured surface and gently fit into the pie plate. Fill with cooled apples. Roll out the remaining pastry and cover the filling; seal, trim and crimp the edges. Cut several slits in top to allow steam to escape. (Or cut the pastry into strips and make lattice.)

If you like, brush the top with cream and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for about 40 minutes, until golden. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold.

I’m sorry I have no photos – it’s on my to-do list for tomorrow.
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January 22 2009 09:56 pm | dessert

26 Responses to “Pad Thai and Sautéed Apple Pie”

  1. Bonnie on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:21 am #

    Re Photos – you don’t have to install any software to get the photos from your camera or to do any editing to them. iPhoto does it all. It will recognize any camera and download the photos – just plug in your camera and open iPhoto if it doesn’t automatically open itself.

  2. JulieVR on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:32 am #

    Oh wow – thank you!! I assumed since there was an installer on the disc specifically for Mac OS X that I needed to use it.

  3. Barb on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:37 am #

    That pie does sound intriguing. I agree and encourage the name change.

  4. Manon from Ontario on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:52 am #

    Julie, my brother and sister-in-law are coming over for diner and I am serving lasagna and apple pie, my bros favs, so thanks, I’ll be making your recipe but with maple sugar :)

    Hmmmm mmmmm can’t wait to enjoy!

    Manon from Ontario

  5. JulieVR on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:53 am #

    MAPLE SUGAR!!! Brilliant!

  6. Bonnie on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:57 am #

    Julie – I know you’re still in the love/hate mode with your iMac but you will find that the OS and programs are much more intuitive than Windows. And installing software or downloading drivers to use cameras, printers and other peripherals are a thing of the past. For me, it took a while to get past trying to do things the Windows way (aka the hard way). I named my iMac after my cat — I like JC MUCH BETTER :-)

    Oh I’m off to Vancouver next week to visit my daughter and family and am busy putting together a collection of your recipes to take with me. Oh yes and my Grazing cookbook too.

  7. elektra on 23 Jan 2009 at 8:08 am #

    ummmmm. pie. what a grand day for pie. i’m not supposed to eat pie. it makes me round. i suppose i could eat the inside of the pie?

    i laughed out loud regarding john cusack. i can hear you crooning ‘john’ at the machine when it’s good and shouting ‘cusack’ when it’s bad.

  8. Manon from Ontario on 23 Jan 2009 at 8:10 am #

    Hey Julie do you still have John Cusack, your dog?

    He’s so cute, I miss him on your blog. :)

    Manon from Ontario

  9. Erica B. on 23 Jan 2009 at 8:39 am #

    I love caramelized anything. Caramelized apple pie sounds deeeeelicious and pastry is on my list of cooking goals for this year. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Christina on 23 Jan 2009 at 8:55 am #

    The pie does sound delicious … Oh how I’d love some pie right now!!
    I just wanted to tell you I tried the roasted broccoli yesterday and it was so great! I chopped a little garlic with it and it was so delicious! Broccoli is my favorite veggy and this will be another staple in our house. Even my husband said he loved it and my 3 year old son (actually he’ll be 3 tomorrow)had 2 helpings of it. He ate it over the roasted potatoes … imagin that! Another great idea Julie. Thanks!

  11. Manon from Ontario on 23 Jan 2009 at 8:58 am #

    OK no laughing pls, how do you make a latte, really, I don’t know, did a search in your blog but I didn’t find anything.
    Is it just warm milk with coffee? and if so how much of each?
    Really feel silly here….but I’d love one for dessert while working in the office this afternoon.

    Thanks,

    MFO

  12. JulieVR on 23 Jan 2009 at 9:06 am #

    I usually buy them.. they are espresso with steamed milk, all foamed up on top. At home I use instant espresso and then add some half & half and foam it up with one of those little battery-powered whisk jobbies, but it’s not quite the same…

  13. Marilyn on 23 Jan 2009 at 9:10 am #

    I can really relate to your frustration when moving from a PC to a Mac. As a fairly competent Windows/MS user, the biggest issue I had was controlling my “techy” approach to solving problems. I found the book “Switching to the Mac: The Missing Manual” by Pogue and Goldstein helpful in making me understand that I didn’t have to fight with the machine to make it do what I wanted.

  14. Bonnie on 23 Jan 2009 at 10:36 am #

    Marilyn – I used that book too and it was extremely useful. It did make switching over a lot easier for sure.

  15. Dorothy on 23 Jan 2009 at 11:58 am #

    The apple pie sounds good! America’s Test Kitchen has an easy Tarte Tatin recipe wherein you do the same. You cook the apples in the sugar mixture until the apples are completely cooked and the sugar carmelized. While you are doing that you roll out, dock and prebake your puff pastry crust and then arrange the cooked apples decoratively on the warm crust and serve with whipped cream. It is wonderful and looks professional.

  16. Natalie on 23 Jan 2009 at 1:05 pm #

    Called my husband to pick up apples on the way home from work. This sounded so good! We are having ham tonight, so perfect combo. BTW thanks for your help on the ham (day 100). I didn’t realize I was buying a raw ham. It had the skin and even a hair still sticking out of it. Not sure why that grossed me out way more than turkey or chicken skin, but it made my stomach turn. I did your method of braising it first. I did find slimy instructions on the underside of the label… bake 18 min. per lb. or to 140 degrees. I used your glaze too.

  17. margo on 23 Jan 2009 at 2:42 pm #

    That apple filling is fabulous with crepes too… that’s what we had last year for Christmas breakfast. Of course there was Nutella, fruit etc. for fillings, too, but that apple filling won all my votes.

  18. margo on 23 Jan 2009 at 2:44 pm #

    Julie, what’s your preferred type of apple for pie? What type did you use this time?

  19. robyn on 23 Jan 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    Manon – a latte is basically a cup of steamed/frothy milk with a shot or two of espresso. Go to Starbucks (or your favourite coffee place) and ask if you can watch them make it….

  20. Colleen on 23 Jan 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    OMG. I must try this pie. Apple pie is one of my favourites and this variation sounds amazing!!! Thanks! (my increasingly round posterior will hopefully forgive me)

  21. LisaMer on 23 Jan 2009 at 6:21 pm #

    Julie, you’ll have to correct me if I’m wrong, but pie, on it’s own, isn’t really that bad when it comes to desserts. When I make apple pie, I use about 6 or 7 Granny Smiths (I like that they keep their shape and the tartness) and the double pie shell that I make only has about 1/3 cup of Crisco (I use the all vegetable oil one or I sometimes use butter) plus flour and water. Not tons of fat, not tons of sugar and lots of fruit!

  22. Natalie on 23 Jan 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    “Rock on” I made the pie…. yummy!!!

  23. lovetocook on 23 Jan 2009 at 11:25 pm #

    Great pie idea. I sometimes throw a few caramels in with the apples. Caramelized peaches, pears, bananas etc make a good crisp or just serve with ice cream. The concentrated flavour is wonderful. Add maple syrup to some whipped cream for a real Canadian twist on apple pie.
    PS: Get yourself a machine and make skim milk cappucino and lattes all day long – decaf fine grind crema is available at the Italian stores- it won’t keep you up. But then JC will.

  24. JulieVR on 24 Jan 2009 at 7:24 am #

    Sorry, I just can’t do skim!! What’s the point? 1% yes, not not skim!

  25. Dana mccauley on 24 Jan 2009 at 5:01 pm #

    My mom has just embraced the concept of those unlabeled containers by serving ‘mystery lunches’. Risky, but she finds it fun. Me, I just use my sharpie. : )

  26. Manon from Ontario on 25 Jan 2009 at 10:41 am #

    Julie the pie was a super hit….and I use frozen apple slices, from our orchard, so it was delish, with maple sugar, yuuuummmmmyyy!
    Thanks for the recipe.

    By the way, I did make myself a latte, I used 1 cup leftover coffee from the morning and one cup milk, warmed it up in the microwave, beat it, added hazelmnut/chocolat flavoring, and sprinkled with cinneman, and now I know what I’m having every afternoon of the rest of the winter:)

    MOF

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