Fall is now in full swing, and its kick-off party is almost here: it's one week 'til Thanksgiving!
(Let's just give the American readers a second to go check their calendars...no, you're right, it's still only October!)
In Canada, we do things a little bit different. We spell things differently (I'm not a bad speller, "colour" is how we spell "color.") We're a constitutional monarchy, which means we're a democracy with a Prime Minister (not a President) but technically, the Queen is in charge (her representative in Canada is the Governor General; our new GG, David Johnston, was sworn in on Friday. Apparently we talk funny. And, we celebrate Thanksgiving in October!
So, next weekend, we will be up to our eyeballs in turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. Can't wait! However, that's a whole week away, and this weekend we wanted a little something fall-ish for a treat. It didn't take me long to decide which recipe we were going to try; Cheddar Crusted Apple Pie.
I own a lot of cookbooks, so many in fact that they had to move from the kitchen to a shelf in my craft room. However, three cookbooks remain in the kitchen by my stove. The first is the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (starting to wear, and covered in flour), the second is a Betty Crocker Cookbook (wonderfully stained and tattered), and the third, (and in best condition), is The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook - The New Classics.
I turn to the Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens books constantly. Cooking times, basic recipes, substitutions and equivalents; these two volumes never steer me wrong. I know that if I follow their instructions, I will end up with a tasty, well-cooked dish. If I am trying a new recipe or cooking technique, I will try the version from one of these books first, before moving on to a more complicated or "gourmet" version.
I turn to the Martha book frequently, too, and I do cook from it. It is definitely a cook book that I like to read and gather inspiration from, particularly from the menus. There is an entire section of menus at the beginning of the book, divided into seasons. For example, Winter would indeed be the the ideal time for a Chili Buffet, and your friends would be dazzled if you hosted a Festive Holiday Cocktail Party! In Spring, you could enjoy a lovely Easter Lunch or Passover Seder, and then as it warms up a Backyard Picnic. Come summer, you could invite the neighbors over for a Grilled Pizza Party, or meet your family at a Cookout At The Shore. The Autumn menus are especially delightful; clearly I'm long overdue to host an Elegant Sit Down Dinner for Ten or a Steakhouse Dinner. All joking aside, it was among the Autumn menus that I found the menu that, to me, epitomized the perfect Fall gathering - An Autumn Pie Party.
I was so taken with this particular menu that I just had to read it aloud to my husband. Pecan Pumpkin, Pear-Fig-Walnut, Plum Galette...they all sounded wonderful, but the pastry that made me pause was the Apple Pie with Cheddar Crust. As soon as I read the name aloud we both went "mmmm" and I knew that before long I'd be making it!
Friday was the day! Now, I come from a long line of excellent pie crust makers, however, despite my many culinary achievements including most baked goods, perfect crusts have eluded me. I've stuck with pies, and my pastry is coming along, but to me (and I'm admittedly my worst critic) they just aren't quite right. I started in on this recipe and followed the steps fairly faithfully. I didn't have the exact apples that the recipe called for, and I'm pretty sure I didn't chill everything in the order that Martha detailed, but I did make sure the pastry itself was well chilled before rolling, and I chilled the entire unbaked pie for the recommended half hour before baking. And, well, I'm not sure if it was the chilling, the cheese, or if I'm finally getting the hang of it, but this crust was just about perfect. (let's just say it was Martha!) It looks a little dark (I didn't have tin foil to tent the crust during the last 45 minutes) and my crimping isn't perfect because of the cheese, but I like to thing it looks homespun. And it tasted fabulous....
Next time, I'm tempted to try grating some cheddar right onto the top of the pie, maybe during the last bit of baking. I saw this done on "Pushing Daisies" and thought it looked so yummy. All in all, I was really pleased with how this pie turned out, and I will definitely be making it again soon, maybe even for Thanksgiving!
If you'd like to try a similar pie (hee hee, that rhymes!) here is a link to Martha Stewart's Cheddar Crusted Apple Pie. Enjoy!