27 November 2007

Rustic Apple Pie


Cooking - In the Movies

I love movies! I have had a Netflix subscription for years and I often watch several movies a week at home. I also enjoy going out to the movies and find that sitting in a theater and immersing myself in the story unfolding on-screen can be a great way to clear my mind and reset the direction in which my thoughts are traveling.

Over the last few months I have seen several movies that suggest cooking is an activity that offers the same benefits. Not long ago I saw "No Reservations." It stars Catherine Zeta-Jones as a repressed chef who focuses her ambition and desires on her cooking. Whenever she feels challenged she heads for the kitchen. "Stranger Than Fiction" portrays baking as a similarly focused pursuit. In it actress Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Ana, a woman who has discovered the joy of nurturing others through her passion for baking. And then there is "Waitress" a charming and quirky story about a woman who deals with the challenges in her life by focusing her passion and energy on creating fantastic and unusual pies. These characters immerse themselves in the experience of cooking and let the benefits flow into other areas of their lives.


Pie Love

I love these movies, but I must admit, I have never been able to love a pie into existence the way I've seen it done on screen. Still, it seems like a beautiful thing to do. While I am able to make a respectable enough pie I have never been able to feel that sense of total immersion in the sensual experience of baking the way it was portrayed in these movies - and I want to!

I don't lack for trying. I dive into the experience of making pie with the best of intentions, but all too often, life's little distractions get in the way of me delivering a perfect product. This weekend, for example, what I hoped would be a beautiful crust on my Apple Pie, when I brushed it gently with milk and caressed it with a light dusting of sugar, turned dark and burned in several spots when I got caught up in a scene from "Fiddler on the Roof" that was playing in the family room at a crucial moment.

Fortunately my family is supportive. When I removed the pie from the oven and pointed out its defects, my son told me it would be great and that I should value it's rustic appearance. I suppose 'rustic' does have a certain charm to it! I'm going to embrace that title, lovingly, and be glad that I can enjoy a movie while nurturing my family with hot, homemade treats fresh from the oven!


Rustic Apple Pie

Pastry for a two crust pie
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash of salt
6 cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons butter

You can make a pie crust, if you like, or get one from the frozen food section. Sometimes I make my own but I often get mine from a box in the dairy case. Wherever it comes from, use one crust to gently line a 9-inch pie dish and set it aside.

Peel, core and slice 6 or 7 Granny Smith apples, or other tart apples of your choice. Mix sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle this mixture over the apples and stir until the apples are well coated. Turn the apples into the pie crust.

Dot the apples with 2 tablespoons of butter. Cover with a top crust. Seal and flute the edge. Cut slits in the top to vent. Brush the crust gently with milk and sprinkle with a bit of sugar if you like.

Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 45 minutes. You may want to place a foil lined pan on a rack directly below the pie while baking, to catch drips. You may also want to cover the edge of the crust with a foil strip during the last 15 minutes of baking if it is getting dark too quickly. When the crust is golden brown remove the pie from the oven and cool on a wire rack.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Enjoy!

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