Saturday, November 6, 2010

change and a fried apple pie

"No regrets." This is a phrase that goes through my head every time I have a big decision to make.  Weighing the options of the path ahead with the inevitable choices of things left behind.  This is especially difficult with regards to relationships.  Because so much of our lives revolve around those we interact with day after day.  There are those who inspire new ideas and stir passion within us.  Some people “sharpen” us through their personalities, sometimes revealing positive or negative things about us. 

Recently, with the acceptance of a new position in another company, I will no longer have the privilege of working with my fellow comrades whom I have grown to enjoy so much.  In the nature of this workplace, where you hit the ground running, there is seldom time for leisure “talk”.  Conversations are intermittent, like bullets shot out in passing, and since my workplace revolves around cooking, it is usually food related. There is never a day that goes by where ideas of new food combinations or recent culinary attempts good or bad are shared.  Jules, a fellow blogger (and amazing photographer) is always trying something new and to my great enjoyment usually brings in a sample or two to try.

With the onset of fall the fragrance of mulled cider wafts throughout the workplace, and has sparked many a conversation about other possible uses for the mulling spices.  Just the other day, our culinary director Rochelle came up with a spoon in her hand and told me to “open up”.  It was an ice cream base that she had infused with the mulling spices, creating a delicious crème anglaise that perfumed my head with cinnamon, allspice and star anise.  Lovely. 

There are many more folks I will also miss and all have a special place in my heart.  But the one whom I will look back on most and smile is my boss.  Probably the best descriptor of him is from a line in the movie Forrest Gump.  Forrest shares his moms’ idea of what life is likened: a “box of chocolates”.   In that, from day to day “you never know what you’re going to get”.  This has been my boss.  At one moment he’s a hurricane, ranting about and the next breaking out into show tunes (he has a very good singing voice by the way).  Working with him has caused my purchasing of antacid to go up dramatically.  But truth be told, I will miss him terribly.

So as a new chapter is beginning and I have the day off.  I think I will make some fried apple pies and a batch of Rochelle’s Spiced Vanilla Ice Cream to serve on the side.  Reflecting on the experiences and joys I’m leaving, but also looking forward to the adventure ahead. 

“Life is a journey along a bitter-sweet trail.  Sorry you faced the delivery of a difficult message today; we are so excited you are joining our team! Together through hard work, sense of true purpose and fun, we will assure this decision is the best one.”  

(A text I received from my new boss when I told her I officially gave my notice)

No regrets.

Bourbon Fried Apple Pies 
inspired by Sam Beall

Fried pies, also called half-moon pies or mule’s ears are a well loved southern favorite.  Traditionally dried fruit, especially dried apples are used for the filling,  but since it is the height of apple season using some unique heirloom varieties found at the farmers' market or even the reliable Granny Smith are a fine option in breaking tradition.
For best results, make the pies ahead of time and freeze them on a tray.  They fry best when frozen.

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. vanilla
¼ cup Bourbon (optional)
4 tart apples, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large egg
1 recipe sweet pastry dough (recipe below)
3 cups vegetable oil
Ice cream, for serving (optional)

In a medium skillet over medium heat combine the butter, sugar, and cinnamon.  Boil for about 5 minutes, until very thick and caramelized.  Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the Bourbon; the mixture may sputter.  Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring, for another 3 minutes.

Add the apples and swirl the pan or stir gently to coat the apples with the liquid.  Cook for 5 minutes more, or until the apples start to soften.  Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature; refrigerate if not using within an hour or two.

When you’re ready to assemble the pies, beat the egg and add a couple of tablespoons cold water together until smooth.  Set aside.  Strain the apple mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the solids from the liquid.  Set both aside in separate bowls.

On a floured surface, roll out a quarter of the dough to a thickness of 1/8 inch.  With a 4-inch round cutter, cut out circles and transfer them to a parchment lined surface.  Brush the circles all over with the egg wash.  Spoon a tablespoon of the apple mixture and a little sauce onto the bottom half of each circle.  Fold the top of each down to cover the filling, making half moon shapes.  Using the tines of a fork or your fingers, press down on the edges to seal the pies.  If the dough begins to get to soft, stick it in the refrigerator for a few minutes or so to firm up a bit.

Transfer them to a rimmed baking, still on the parchment, being careful that they don’t touch each other.  Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 4 to 5 hours, until the pies are solidly frozen.  Once frozen, the pies can either be cooked immediately or transferred to resealable plastic bags and kept frozen for a month.

When ready to serve the pies, place the oil in a large skillet and heat of high heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil immediately bubbles (but doesn’t spit) and begins to brown, or a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°F.  Take the pies out of the freezer and fry a few at a time in the oil, turning them once, for about 5 minutes, until golden brown around the edges and the filling is heat through.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Repeat until all the pies are cooked.  Serve them warm with scoops of ice cream on the side.

makes 16 to 18 pies, enough for 8 to 10 servings 

Sweet Pastry
makes pastry for one 9-inch pie or one 10-inch tart

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake or pastry flour
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
¼ tsp. salt
8 Tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk

Place the all-purpose flour, cake flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the pieces of butter are the size of small peas.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and yolk together; pour them over the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture forms large clumps.

Scoop the dough out of the processor onto a floured surface (I am really enjoying using a floured pastry cloth for rolling out dough); knead a few times, just until the dough is smooth.  Form the dough into a disk and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate for a least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days; the dough can also be frozen for up to 6 months and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to using.

Rochelle's Spiced Vanilla Ice Cream
makes 1 quart

3 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
3 Tbsp. mulling spice mix put into a cheesecloth "purse"

Heat the cream, sugar, vanilla seeds and the mulling spice “purse” in a small saucepan only until the sugar is dissolved.  Be sure not to let the mixture come to a boil.  Once the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and let set for about 20 minutes to allow the mulling spices to infuse the cream mixture.  Stain into a bowl, cover, and chill very well.  Freeze the mixture in an ice cream freezer according to the manufacturer’s direction.  Spoon into a freezer container and allow to chill in the freezer for a few hours.  Allow to soften before serving.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the recipes, look forward to trying the fried apple pie, have never had, heard lots about it.