Monday, November 9, 2009

Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust

Adapted from Gourmet, September 2009


For Crust:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar (preferably white), coarsely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cold vegetable shortening
6 to 8 tablespoon ice water
1 tablespoon milk (optional)

For Apple Filling:
1 1/2 pound Gala, Fuji, or Pink Lady apples (3 medium)
1 pound Granny Smith apples (2 medium)
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter


For cheddar crust:

Stir together flour, salt, and cheese in a large bowl. Add butter and shortening and blend with your fingertips just until mixture resembles coarse meal with some roughly pea-size butter lumps. Drizzle 6 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

Squeeze a small handful: If dough doesn't hold together, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until incorporated. Do not overwork dough or pastry will be tough.

Turn out dough onto a work surface and divide in half, then form each half into a 5-inch disk. Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

To make apple filling and bake pie:

Put a foil-lined large baking sheet in middle of oven and preheat oven to 450°F.

Peel and core apples, then slice 1/4 inch thick. Toss apples with sugar, flour, lemon juice, and salt until evenly coated.

Roll out 1 piece of dough (keep remaining disk chilled) on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into approximately a 13-inch round. Fit into pie plate. Roll out remaining piece of dough into approximately an 11-inch round.

Transfer filling to shell. Dot with butter, then cover with pastry round. Trim edges, leaving a 1/2-inch overhang. Press edges together to seal, then fold under. Lightly brush top crust with milk (or if you don't have milk, use a well-beaten egg white), then cut 5 (1-inch-long) vents.

Bake on hot baking sheet 20 minutes. Reduce oven to 375°F and bake until crust is golden-brown and filling is bubbling, about 40 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature.

*Note: dough can be chilled up to 2 days in advance.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Tortilla Española

Adapted from The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis Hearne

This is a pretty basic recipe that can be tweaked to your liking. Want less onion and more potato? Go for it. I personally like the current ratio: it’s well balanced and flavorful. Keep in mind this dish can be served warm or cold, and is excellent as a sandwich as well.


¼ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 pound Yukon Gold, red-skinned, or russet potatoes (the first two work a bit better) peeled, halved, and sliced into approximately ¼” slices
Salt and Pepper
6 eggs


Add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil to your skillet and warm to medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes until they start to turn translucent. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and cook until the onions are a light brown color, about five more minutes, and lightly season them with salt. (Be careful not to burn them, just cook the onions to your desired level of done-ness). Remove the onions to a plate and set aside.

Heat the same skillet again over medium heat, adding the ¼ cup of olive oil to the pan and allow the oil to heat up, about 2 minutes. Carefully add the potatoes and cook for about 10 minutes (reduce heat if smoking from the pan occurs). Halfway through, flip the potatoes over so the other side cooks as well, and be careful to keep the slices separate from each other so they don’t stick. When the potatoes are done, remove them to a paper-toweled covered plate to soak up a bit of the extra oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste one to make sure it’s to your liking (and yum! Fried ‘tatoes!) Leave any remaining oil in the pan for future use.

Break the eggs into a medium bowl and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk until frothy. Add the cooked potatoes and onions to the eggs in the bowl. Preheat the oven broiler.

Place the skillet with the remaining olive oil over medium-low heat. (Note: I have learned the hard way—always cook eggs over a lower heat so you have more control. Otherwise, they cook too quickly and brown and are gross.) Allow skillet to warm up a bit, and add the egg-potato-onion mixture to the pan, then reduce the heat a bit to low. Cook until the pan-side of the omelet is set, and very lightly brown, approximately 5 minutes. Place the skillet in the oven and broil until the top of the omelet is golden brown and when you stick a knife in the middle, it comes out clean. (Note: if you do not have a cast-iron skillet, simply wrap the handle of a regular skillet with a towel so you can pull it out with your oven mitts when the dish is ready). This should take about 3 to 5 additional minutes in the oven.

Season with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Use a spatula to loosen the omelet from its pan, and slide the omelet onto a plate. Cut into wedges and serve with toasted bread or as-is. With a salad, it would be a lovely light lunch or dinner.

Buen provecho!