Showing posts with label apple pie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label apple pie. Show all posts

Friday, September 25, 2015

Morris House Apple Pie

by Sheila Connolly

Mixed Apple Pie with Hazelnut Crumb Crust and Maple Cream
Sometimes things just come together when you need them.

My very own apples--but this is from only
one tree!
My apples are ripening at an alarming rate, and even after sharing with the hungry squirrels I have an awful lot of them. Of course I welcome new apple recipes, but I don’t expect them to drop into my lap. Well, this one did.

This arrived in an email from Morris House, the small hotel in Philadelphia where I’ve stayed multiple times (it’s delightful, and less expensive than the nearby big chains). The last time there I ate at the restaurant (which appears in one of my Museum Mysteries), and I shared my version of the entrée recipe here on MLK (Scallops with Ginger-Soy Aioli in May 2015). They have a great chef!

The email included a detailed recipe for (drum roll) Apple Pie. Not just any apple pie, but one that called for a hazelnut crust you don’t have to roll (I’ve whined here before about my issues with pie crusts), and a crumbled topping, and best yet, it uses “mixed apples.” Boy, do I have mixed apples!

Apples come in many varieties, with different properties. Some are good for eating, others not so good to eat but great for pies. Some should go straight to cider—you wouldn’t want to eat them. If you mix up your varieties, you benefit from the best properties of all the kinds in the pie, both for flavor and for texture.

All right, I’ll get off my apple soapbox and show you how to make this delightful apple pie from Morris House in Philadelphia.

Mixed Apple Pie with Hazelnut Crumb Crust and Maple Cream
The Crust

1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted

Combine the oats and next 5 ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Drizzle butter over top and mix well. Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9- or 10-inch greased pie plate to form a thick crust.

The Filling

6 cups mixed apples, peeled, cored, 
Peeled with my antique peeler!
and cut into 1/4-inch slices
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus 1/2 teaspoon zest
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 375° F.

A note on the apples you choose: taste them! If they seem kind of tart, you can add sugar to the recipe at this point, but remember there will be a sugary crust.

Place the sliced apples in a large bowl and drizzle with lemon juice and maple syrup; mix well. In a small bowl, combine lemon zest, cinnamon, allspice, and 3 tablespoons flour. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and toss to coat. Evenly distribute filling into unbaked crust, taking care to layer the apples. (This will ensure your pie doesn't fall apart when you cut into it.)

Yes, there's a pink apple in there

The Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup flour

For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, and butter in a medium bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, rub in the butter until pea-sized clumps form. Sprinkle topping over filling and pat neatly into place.

Ready to bake
Bake the pie for 45 to 60 minutes, or until the apples are soft and the crust is browned on the edges. If the top seems to be browning too quickly while baking, loosely cover with aluminum foil. Remove pie from oven and allow to sit for at least 2 hours (this makes it a whole lot easier to slice!).

Tangy Maple Cream

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon maple extract OR maple syrup

While the pie is baking, chill a medium-sized glass or stainless steel bowl in the freezer.

Pour the cream into the chilled bowl and beat with a whisk or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Beat in yogurt and maple extract or syrup until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Another note: this topping is not sweetened, except for that dash of maple syrup. If you like things sweet, add a bit of sugar after you’ve whipped the cream.
Once the pie has cooled, cut it into slices and top with a dollop of Maple Cream before serving. Serves 6 to 8.

I have to add: this pie smelled wonderful while it baked, throughout my entire house. There really is something different about apples used the same day you pick them!

Eleven days until A Gala Event comes out!

I can't believe it took nine books for Meg and Seth to figure out they were meant for each other. Of course, nothing went smoothly in planning the wedding, and then there was this crime to solve...and some wandering alpacas to watch out for. Life in Granford is full of surprises.

You can pre-order it at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Ritz Cracker Mock Apple Pie

by Sheila Connolly

Guess what: there are no apples in this pie!

My grandmother did not cook. Which is odd when you think that she worked in the food industry (for Lipton Tea) for almost twenty years, and she knew a number of New York chefs personally. But the kitchen (a liberal use of the term) in the apartment in the residence hotel where she lived for several decades had been a closet originally (in fact, her clothes closet was bigger), and had a tiny sink, a minuscule refrigerator, and two electric burners. She also had a toaster oven—and room service.

But one of the most vehement arguments we ever had was over this recipe, the one that used to appear on the Ritz Cracker box (alas, no longer), about whether it actually tastes like apples. I was skeptical, but she was adamant.

The recipe apparently emerged during the Depression, but became really popular during the Second World War, both eras when fresh produce was hard to get, and crackers were cheap. And I realized that despite that argument, I had never actually made this recipe. So this is a weird tribute to my late grandmother.

Ritz Mock Apple Pie (No apples needed!)

Pastry for a two-crust 9” pie
36 Ritz crackers (I love the way you have to count them!)
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tblsp lemon juice
Grated rind of one lemon

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Fit one crust of pastry into your pie pan. Break the crackers coarsely onto the crust.

Combine the water, sugar and cream of tartar in a saucepan, and boil gently for 15 minutes.  Add the lemon juice and rind. Let cool.

Pour the syrup over the crackers in the pan, dot generously with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Cover with the top crust and crimp the edges together. Slit the top crust to let steam escape.

Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the crust is golden. Serve warm.

The Verdict: Well…too sweet and too soupy. Too much lemon rind, but that might have been my fault. The texture was convincing if you normally make your pie with mushy apples rather than ones that hold their shape. I can tell you that it did not taste like Ritz Crackers. But not a lot like apples either.

So since I had nothing more important to do than watch snow fall, I made it again. Same crust, but I changed everything else, just a little. Less water, less sugar. Forget the lemon rind. More butter and cinnamon. And a few more crackers.

Did it help? Well, maybe. It was firmer, and not so cloyingly sweet. But it still didn’t taste like apples! Think of it as a cracker pie and you might like it.

Looks like apple pie, doesn't it?

Yes, it snows in Ireland, now and then, but nothing like in Massachusetts! If you're looking for an escape from what's left of the snow/ice/slush/gloom of your winter, wherever you are, try a quick trip to Ireland with An Early Wake.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why Put Vodka in Your Pie Crust? Culinary mystery author Cleo Coyle has a clue...

This Vodka Pie Crust recipe has been around for a few years now. It was first developed by a team of cooks at America's Test Kitchen and subsequently published in a 2007 issue of Cook's Illustrated. Since then, the recipe has been tested, reviewed, adapted, and reprinted on blogs across the Worldwide Web.

For six year, I remained skeptical. Like many bakers, I have my own favorite pie crust recipes, including one with my own "secret ingredient" so why waste good vodka?

I'll tell you why: because one of my fellow crime-writing cooks here at Mystery Lovers' Kitchen, Wendy Lyn Watson (aka Annie Knox), raved about it, and that was good enough for me. I printed out the recipe with plans to try it. Still more months went by and finally, on a day I craved an apple pie, I baked it up and was mighty impressed with the results. 

Wendy first shared the recipe, so I checked in with her. She gave me the green light to share it with all of you. 

The Famous
Vodka Pie Crust
(which is neither shaken nor stirred)

Adapted (with geek speak) and photographed by Cleo Coyle with thanks for the share from Wendy Lyn Watson via the original source of America's Test Kitchen (PBS) and Cook's Illustrated magazine

See the original recipe reprinted here 

in The New York Times

Yield: enough to make two 9-inch pie crusts
(one double-crust pie or two single-crust pies)


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (12-1/2 ounces)
1 teaspoon salt (I prefer ½ teaspoon table salt or 1 teaspoon Kosher salt)
2 tablespoons white, granulated sugar
12 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks), diced
1/2 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, diced
1/4 cup cold vodka
1/4 cup ice water (My advice is not to use all of this, more below)


Step 1 – Mix the flour and fat either with a food processor or by hand. See directions for each method below…

A. By food processor: Place the 1-1/2 cups flour, salt, and sugar into your food processor and process until combined. America’s Test Kitchen suggests 2 one-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until the dough begins to form uneven clumps (about 15 seconds). The dough will resemble cottage-cheese curds, and there should be no uncoated flour. Scrape the bowl with your rubber spatula, evening out the dough around your processor blade. Now add the remaining cup of flour and pulse the processor blade until you've broken up the mass of dough. Pour this mixture into a mixing bowl. (If you're wondering why you can't just finish the dough in the food processor, America's Test Kitchen found that the processor overworks the dough after the liquid is added, which is why they direct you to transfer it to a bowl for the next step.)

B. By hand: Into a bowl, measure out the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the fats (cold butter and shortening) and use a pastry cutter (or two knives) to cut the butter and shortening into the dry ingredients. I use a pastry cutter but (honestly) at some point, I always switch to clean fingers, rubbing the fat into the flour until the entire mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Step 2 – Add the liquid (where Cleo geeks out): This is the trickiest part of any pie dough. Too much liquid and you’ll get a tough crust. That’s why vodka is used. The liquid nature allows you to form and roll the dough easily, but vodka is only part water. It's also part ethanol--and, as the cooks at America's Test Kitchen realized, gluten doesn't form in ethanol. (Gluten is a protein in flour that you want to develop when making bread but never when making a pie crust because you'll end up with a tough, unappealing crust.) 

In the vodka crust, when the crust bakes the alcohol evaporates, leaving just enough liquid in the dough to form an extremely tender and flaky pie crust. That's why you’ll want to sprinkle all of the vodka over the flour mixture, but I suggest starting with only half of the recommended 1/4 cup of ice water. In other words, sprinkle all of the vodka and only 2 tablespoons of the ice water over the flour-fat crumbs.

With a rubber spatula, stir in the liquid, folding and pressing down. Use your best judgment on adding water at this stage: The dough should not be dry and crumbly. Nor should it be overly wet. If your weather is very humid, 2 tablespoons of the ice water may be all you’ll need to form a sticky dough. If your weather is very dry, you might need to add two 2 more tablespoons (for the entire suggested amount of ¼ cup). 

Divide your dough into two even balls and flatten each into a disk. Wrap each dough disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Step 3 - Roll the dough (more geek speak): When you're ready to make your pie, take out your disk and roll it out. I've been rolling out dough for years now (cookie dough, pie dough, doughs of all kinds) and I swear by my parchment paper method. Why? Because I never add more flour. 

This is why I hold back the entire amount of ice water in the vodka pie crust recipe. In the recipe notes at America's Test Kitchen, they actually suggest adding up to 1/4 cup more flour to the crust as you roll it out--that's because, if you use the entire 1/4 cup of ice water, your dough will be very wet and you'll need that flour to dry it out, but in my opinion, you also run the risk of toughening your crust more than you need to. 

As I said, I'd rather hold back a bit of water in this recipe and use my parchment paper method of rolling the dough, which is simply to place the dough disk between two pieces of parchment paper before rolling. 

Question: Won't the dough stick to the parchment paper? Yes. When dough gets warm, it sticks (because the butter beings to melt). This is easily remedied by chilling the dough again thus chilling and hardening the butter. So I simply slip the fully rolled out dough, parchment papers and all, onto a flat pan and slide it into the refrigerator for fifteen minutes or until chilled again. Once the dough gets cold, it loses its stickiness and I can remove the parchment paper easily and transfer the dough to a metal pie pan or glass pie plate. 

Bake your pie according to your specific recipe's directions. 

My three tips for you when baking: (1) Be sure to protect the thick crust edges from over-browning by loosely hugging them with aluminum foil or covering with a pie shieldI do this before placing the pie in the oven and remove the foil or shield in the last 20 minutes of baking so the edges will brown. (2) If blind baking an empty, single-crust pie, don't forget to weight the crust with pie weights or it will shrink back in a heartbreaking manner. (3) Brushing the top crust with an egg wash consisting of 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of milk, cream, or half-and-half will help the top turn golden brown.

This vodka crust is the tenderest I've ever tasted. My husband agreed. We both give it a big thumbs-up. Thank you, Wendy (and the ever-curious cooks of America's Test Kitchen)! 

Eat with joy!
~ Cleo Coyle 

New York Times bestselling author of
The Coffeehouse Mysteries

Friend me on facebook here
Follow me on twitter here.
Visit my online coffeehouse here.


The Coffeehouse Mysteries are bestselling
works of amateur sleuth fiction set in a landmark
Greenwich Village 
coffeehouse, and each of the
12 titles includes the added bonus of recipes.  


The Ghost and
Mrs. McClure

Book #1 of 

The Haunted Bookshop
, which Cleo writes
under the name
Alice Kimberly

To learn more, click here.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Lucy Burdette's Apple Pie a la Dad

LUCY BURDETTE: Apples are the perfect fruit for a mystery writer. After all, wasn't Snow White poisoned with an apple? And what about the apple Eve supposedly gave to Adam? You can cause a lot of trouble with an innocent looking apple...

One thing I discovered when we were chatting about "apple week" is that I don't cook with apples very often, poisoned or otherwise. I like a good crisp Macoun or Macintosh, but I cannot bear a mealy Delicious apple. And I certainly wouldn't put it in my crockpot or skillet. And yet they are Peg's favorite variety and Cleo used them yesterday in her amazing mini-caramel tartlets--so to each her own!

I'm going to stick with a classic apple pie, the one my dad used to make when his wife would let him in the kitchen. But be sure to check out the other recipes this week, where the other writers fill in with the fancy stuff. I've given you this crust before with other recipes, but it's so easy, I'll keep repeating until you agree to try it!


2 cups unbleached flour (can be partly whole wheat)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk (I use 1%)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (I use organic canola)

Sift the flour with the salt. Measure the milk and oil, pour it into the flour, mix. Now comes the only tricky part. Divide the dough into two parts, 3/5 for the bottom crust, the remainder for the top. Place the dough between two sheets of waxed paper and roll it to the correct size. Carefully peel off the top sheet of waxed paper, flip the crust into a pie pan, carefully remove the other sheet of waxed paper. Since you are filling the crust with something delicious anyway, it's perfectly acceptable to patch as needed and then crimp the edges. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.


6 cups sliced apples
2 or 3 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch of salt
1-2 Tbsp butter

Peel, core and slice the apples. Mix in a bowl with the flour, cinnamon and salt. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes, then place it into the bottom crust. Dot with butter.

Roll the top crust over the apples and pinch the two parts together, trimming as needed. Working around the crust, press a fork into the dough to make shapely crimped edges. Make vents on the top crust, with design of your choice. You may sprinkle a little sugar over the top if you like sparkles.

Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 and bake for another 30 plus minutes until the crust is brown and the filling bubbling. (Put a cookie sheet on the rack underneath to catch the drips.) Let the pie cool on a rack. Serve with ice cream!

While you're waiting for the pie to cool, I invite you to enjoy the Key West food critic mysteries, full of food, friendship, and murder--all set in Paradise! PW said about DEATH IN FOUR COURSES: "Anyone who's overpaid for a pretentious restaurant meal will relish this witty cozy."

And please follow Lucy on Twitter @lucyburdette, or "like" her on facebook, or check out her boards on Pinterest for all the latest updates.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The PENZEYS Week Kick-Off: No Crust Cranberry Pie

Welcome to Mystery Lover's Kitchen's special Penzeys week! At this time of year, it seems like dishes call for spices and herbs even more than usual. The Mystery Lover's Kitchen bloggers are friends and discovered that we all use Penzeys spices. Each of us has our favorites, of course, so we thought we would dedicate a special week to our favorite spice store. For those of you who haven't heard of them, Penzeys has stores all over the country, as well as a lovely catalog and an online ordering site.

All cooks have their favorite spices and for Ella Mae LeFaye, nothing beats the fresh, pure tastes of Penzeys spices. This is the time of year to she loves to fill her Charmed Pis Shoppe kitchen with the scents of vanilla, orange, cloves, rosemary, thyme, and more.

Today, Ella Mae wanted to share a very simple no crust pie with you. That's right, you don't have to mess with a crust and with cake-like nature of this pie, you won't miss it! Tart cranberries blend with crunchy pecans and are flavored with Penzeys spices.

This is the pie for folks who don't normally like pie. Enjoy!

    Charmed No Crust Cranberry Pecan Tart
    1 cup all-purpose flour
    1 cup white sugar
    2 cups fresh cranberries
    1/2 cup chopped pecans
    1/2 cup butter, melted
    2 large eggs


¼ teaspoon PENZEYS pure almond extract
¾ teaspoon PENZEYS pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon PENZEYS ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon PENZEYS ground cloves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease one 9-inch pie pan.

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the cranberries and the pecans, and toss to coat. Stir in the butter, beaten eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. Add cinnamon and cloves. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. It will look more like cake batter than pie filling.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm. A scoop of vanilla ice cream or real whipped cream tastes great on this pie.

Do you have a favorite spice? The one you love to uncap and sniff before sprinkling it over your food?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Announcing: The MLK Easy Holiday Meal!

We’ve entered the holiday season and those of us at Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen would like to make your holiday a little easier and a little more delicious! How? Well, we’ve come up with an easy holiday menu for you and will post a dish each day over the next week so that you don’t have to come up with your own. Here’s what we’ve cooked up for you:
Sweet Potato and Pear Soup
Turkey Cutlets
Seitan Pot Pie
Corn Casserole
Holiday Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette and Poinsettias (drinks)
Apple Chutney

And true to the style of my Pies & Prejudice heroine, Ella Mae, we’ll assume that life is short and we should therefore start with dessert, so here's the Charmed Ginger Maple Apple Crumble Pie!

1 Charmed Pie Dough (or, if you don’t want to make your dough from scratch, use a Pillsbury crust with the Charmed Egg Wash)

6 cups of peeled and chopped apples (pick your favorites or substitute Bartlett pears for the apples)
1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of packed brown sugar

1/4 cup of pure Grade A maple syrup
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
Crumble Topping Ingredients

2/3 cup flour
1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 Roll out pie dough and place in a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie dish Put in the freezer to set.
2 Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the chopped apples in a large bowl with the cornstarch, ginger, brown sugar, maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Toss well using your fingers.

3 Place the apple mixture into the pie dish. Place the pie into the center oven rack and bake for 45 minutes.
4 While baking take all the Oatmeal Crumb Topping ingredients and place them in a bowl. Using the pulse button on your food processor mix the ingredients until large crumbs form. Refrigerate until use.

5 After the 45 minutes are up remove pie and reduce heat to 375F.
Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the pie and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least one hour. (I couldn't wait and my piece fell apart as you can see from the photo). Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
What's your favorite holiday dessert? Post a comment and you could win this month's hot chocolate themed prize! (see photo of tea towel and hot cocoa sampler)

Friday, October 21, 2011


by Sheila Connolly

Oh, no, not another apple pie! you cry.  Sorry—in Massachusetts the harvest season is in full swing, and I've got a couple of dozen apples begging to be used, and this recipe's different.  Honest.

This is one of those cases where choosing the right apple is important.  I bought some Baldwins at an orchard last week, because I wanted to try them.  Baldwins used to be the primary apple in Massachusetts—it was the first true commercial apple in the state, popularized by Loammi Baldwin (another ancestor of some distant sort) in the mid-18th century.  Mind you, he didn't create the variety, but he promoted the heck out of it.  Its popularity survived into the early years of the 20th century, but the variety was dealt a death blow by the winter storms of 1938.  When farmers replanted, it was usually with the dependable McIntosh.

I had never actually eaten a Baldwin, so of course when I found them at a local orchard I bought a bag (also a bag of Northern Spy and a bag of Roxbury Russet—see why I have a surfeit of apples?). As an eating apple it was less than exciting, but it's an excellent pie apple, becoming soft in cooking without losing its shape. 

So here's another recipe for Apple Pie, if you're in the mood for something just a little different.

1 pie crust (homemade or packaged
Cooking spray

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 ½ Tblsp butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

5 cups peeled and slices apples
2 Tblsp butter
1/4 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tblsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325°.

Roll dough into a 14" circle, and fit into a 9" deep dish pie plate, coated with cooking spray (the crust will be thin, and the cooking spray helps if you need to move it to fit).  Fold under the edges and flute. Place it in refrigerator until ready to use.

Streusel: Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a medium bowl.  Cut in butter with a food processor/pastry blender/pair of knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.  Place in refrigerator.

Apples: Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet and melt it.  Add sugar and cinnamon and mix with the butter, then add the apples, and cook over medium heat until the apple slices are tender, five to 10 minutes.  Spoon into prepared crust.

Custard: Whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and eggs.  Stir in buttermilk and vanilla.  Pour over the apples.

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes.  Sprinkle streusel over the pie and reduce temperature to 300°.  Bake for an additional 40 minutes or until set but not firm.  Let stand 1 hour before serving (but it is good served slightly warm).

When you first fill the crust and add the apples and custard, the apples disappear.  But in cooking they manage to distribute themselves throughout the custard.  The whole thing will be a bit jiggly when you take it out of the oven, but that's fine.

One final note:  this is not a good keeper.  When you make it, plan to serve it the same day.