Apple Pie

You can find apple pie recipes everywhere. I have tried several. This is my favorite. I found it several years ago on America’s Test Kitchen, and it lay dormant in my computer until September 2018 when I tried it out for a dinner with friends. They were blown away. I made it again for Thanksgiving, to another round of applause.

The key to this recipe is pre-cooking the apples. You can stuff the pie crust pretty thickly: 5 pounds of apples will allow you to make a super deep-dish pie (though you don’t need a deep dish to make it). Pre-baking the apples ensures that juices do not pool in the bottom of the crust during baking, or create an empty crust dome on top of the pie. I have also made the pie with as little as 2½ pounds of apples. The pie pictured on this page was made with about 4 pounds.

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Tarte Tatin

 

Tarte TatinThis recipe comes from the January 1996 issue of Cooks Illustrated.  I tried it for the first time when we were living in Uzbekistan about a decade ago, and it has never failed to impress.  The trick is to start by caramelizing the apples in sugar and butter in an oven-proof skillet on the stove, with slices arranged in a circle.  Then cover the entire pan with an egg pastry that contains confectioners’ sugar rather than granulated sugar, which can make the dough grainy.

Cooks Illustrated prides itself on testing and re-testing their recipes until they find the perfect ingredients and preparation method.  However, every time I have made this tarte, I have managed with half the amount of apples called for in the recipe, each cut into six wedges rather than four.  Perhaps if I followed the recipe precisely, I could fit more fruit into the pan.  But I’m afraid that the apples wouldn’t fully cook.  Try it for yourself and let me know how it turns out.

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Farro and Asparagus Salad

Farro-SaladRecently while looking for a new idea for a refreshing but substantial salad to serve for Easter brunch, we found this gem on Allrecipes.com.  We liked it so much that we served it two more times within a month.  Once we substituted barley for the farro with excellent results.  The other time, we replaced the asparagus with fresh steamed green beans, which were delightful. Continue reading

Couscous Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas

20131029-165849.jpgLooking for an easy and healthful lunch for the home or office?  This is one of my favorite recipes — and it’s totally vegan.  It comes from the January 2008 issue of Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food magazine and was also featured on the Today show.  It’s infinitely variable; if you don’t happen to have cauliflower on hand, you can substitute another vegetable that roasts well, like bell peppers, or eggplant, or zucchini, or sliced onion.  I like including whole garlic cloves.  The arugula is nice, but totally optional.  And when I made this dish for lunch today, I substituted quinoa for the couscous, and it works perfectly!  Feel free to vary this to your own taste, and enjoy. Continue reading

Granola

GranolaThere is no more addictive snack than this simple do-it-yourself mix of healthy, hearty foods.  Granola can be so much better than the stuff you buy at the store.  This makes a lovely hostess gift, yogurt-topper, between-meal munchie… the list goes on.  Credit for this recipe goes to the Manhattan restaurant Eleven Madison Park, where chef Daniel Humm sends guests off with a half pound of this granola as a parting gift.  The recipe was published in the May 2012 issue of Food Network Magazine.  I’ve made a couple of minor modifications to my own taste. Continue reading

Charkhlis Mkhali (Georgian Beet Salad)

BeetsThe Georgian table is always filled with a vast array of salads and appetizers.  Often at a Georgian restaurant, I don’t even make it to the main dish because I stuff myself on starters.  This is one of the culprits.  Mkhali (or pkhali) is a general term for a vegetable puree mixed with herbs and ground walnuts.  Yesterday I made the version with beets.  You could just as easily substitute spinach or other greens.  This recipe comes almost verbatim from Darra Goldstein’s masterpiece The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Food of the Republic of Georgia, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Continue reading