Last night was the “Final Four” college basketball games (as an aside, it’s Kansas against Memphis tomorrow night). We decided to make homemade pizzas (I just couldn’t face more wings!) and try an apple pie recipe I saw Alton Brown make on his show Good Eats. With nods to both Aaron and Robert, Alton remains one of the few good things coming out of America these days and this recipe is a winner, lemme tell you. You can get the recipe here.
With all due respect to both my mom and, god bless her, Grandma Gladys, it was the best apple pie ever. It’s a chore to make, sure, but worth it.
Now, before last week I had never heard of grains of paradise, let alone where one could purchase them in Toronto. In medieval times, scrupulous traders replaced black pepper – which was infinitely more expensive back then – with grains of paradise. Those same traders, in a effort to increase their market price, came up with the name claiming the wee grains came directly from the Garden of Eden after being fished out of of the rivers heading out of Paradise. Good marketing angle that. The grains are actually not grains at all, but the seeds the melegueta pepper from the Western African coast, and today they are more pricey then black pepper by far. This small tin cost $12.00 (thanks Blee for purchasing these). They go absolutely perfectly with apples and have a peppery taste with coriander and cardamom undertones.
I bought an organic steak today and will try encrusting the steak with the grains this week as a sort of steak au poivre. Stay tuned. But back to the pie.
G is the wunderkid when it comes to pastry dough and took charge of this after I did sous chef duties and prepped the ingredients.
Putting it together
Now, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. Lay the pastry in, pop in your pie bird and then build the apples around it. Lay the top crust on, glaze with the reduced apple juice from the apples, and bake for 40 or so minutes at 425°.
21) the gorgeous pie now sits for 5 hours to congeal all up; 22) the (way-too-expensive) French tart pan does make a difference when it comes to removing the pie
For dinner, we made a homemade pizza parlour sauce and dough. The sauce is easy, just saute some onions and garlic, toss in gobs of plum tomatoes, a tiny tin of tomato paste and two tablespoons of dried oregano. Let this simmer for 30 minutes and you’re done!
27) G made the dough and after sitting in a warmish oven for an hour; 28) Blee did the honours of knocking it down
29) Blee also tossed it up after knocking it down; 30) pizza dough perfection