Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Tale of Two Pies

My Thanksgiving pies sucked.  The Christmas pies, however, were another story.

First, let me tell you about the apple pie gone horribly juicy. 

Don't be fooled.  A river runs through it.

Something (bad) happens when you put 11 cups of apples in a pie and only one tablespoon of flour:  the juice doesn't thicken, which creates a runny mess that ruins the bottom crust.  Either my apples - a combination of Granny Smith and Golden Delicious - were extraordinarily juicy, or the recipe was incorrect in calling for only a tablespoon of flour. 

Whatever the case, it was a disaster.   After my sister and I poured the juice from the pie dish, we were left with dry apples in a soggy crust.  This sucker met its new friend the garbage can - and fast.  Apologies to my sister, who peeled, cored, and sliced her way into oblivion. 

Turkey Day pie No. 2:  pumpkin.  This one usually gets rave reviews but it was mediocre.  Pie shouldn't need whipped cream.  I don't know why I stuck with the recipe so long because it always annoyed me that it took forever to set and I constantly had to check on it and return it to the oven.  This particular creation lacked punch.  It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out some fresh spices were needed.

Now, the good news:  Food Network Magazine had an article in its November issue that included classic pie recipes and updated versions of them.  I didn't give a flip about the updated versions as I obviously am still trying - eh, struggling - to master the classics. 

First, I made pumpkin.  I was skeptical because the crust is prebaked, and I don't recall ever prebaking the pie shell for pumpkin pie.   I made my usual no-fail butter pastry (see my "Crusty Trials and Tribulations" post for the recipe), then followed the recipe directions. 

Although my crust shrunk, this pie was a treat for the taste buds. The newly purchased ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cloves packed a wallop in this rich and creamy pie.  Next time, I'll roll out the crust to exact specifications instead of eyeballing it.  Here's the recipe link:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/pumpkin-pie-recipe2/index.html

After that success, my confidence was restored and I reached for the apple recipe.  This one required precooking the apples in a saute pan, another step I had never done before but one I thought made sense since the syrup consistency would be guaranteed. 

Turns out this pie is a winner, presenting a pleasing balance of sweet to tart flavors, a shiny, golden crust, and an intact slice with a decent syrup.   Yup, a very nice slice:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/apple-pie-recipe2/index.html

If you haven't checked out Food Network Magazine, give it a look.  It's loaded with interesting recipes, covering a gamut of taste preferences and culinary skill levels.  I received it as a gift last year and enjoyed every issue.  Thanks, Patty!  It also saved Christmas - my pies at least.

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