Old Fashioned Apple Pie

With Fall came the appearance of apples in the markets on the East Coast, with numerous varieties to choose from, most of which were grown in Upstate New York.  As a child, my father took great pride in his ability to peel an apple in one uninterrupted motion, rotating the apple and keeping the knife steady in his hand as the peel slowly curled off the fruit.  I was fascinated by it and he always chuckled as I looked on.  In the evening, my mother would serve a snack of cut-up apples alongside sliced rye bread and butter, or she would steep slices of apple in hot tea.  Occasionally she made baked apples or an apple cake.  My father would encourage me to eat apples, stating how healthy they were, maybe because he actually believed that “an apple a day kept the doctor away” (my father typically believed what he read in print) but I was allergic to raw apples and so eventually I just stopped eating them.

I envied my parents and sister, and later on, my husband and children, who took such pleasure in eating this seemingly perfect snack that actually didn’t require peeling.  I loved watching them take that very first bite when you could hear the crunch and that pop of juice.  I would watch the expressions on their faces as they formed an opinion, was the apple too mealy, too tart, too sweet or just perfect.  I still find myself drawn to the apple stands at the farmers markets.  I might ask the grower about new varieties, pick one up and weigh it in my hand, look for blemishes, gently squeeze it to see if it feels firm and then buy a few to take home.  I have a bowl full of apples in my kitchen right now, purchased for no reason other than that they looked so pretty.

My daughter recently went apple picking in Upstate New York and she brought some of the apples home with her on Thanksgiving.  Like everything in life, things may not be exactly as we wish, but we adjust.  I accept that I will never experience  the pleasure of biting into a just picked Northern Spy or an Ida Red, but I can take those apples and turn them into apple pie, home-made, double crusted and perfect.

Old Fashioned Apple Pie

Crust   (enough for a double crust)

2 Cups all-purpose flour

3/4 Tsp salt

1 Cup Crisco

1 egg

2 Tbs cold water

1 Tbs white vinegar

Filling

6  baking apples ( I used a combination of Ida Red, Macoun and Empire)

3/4 Cup sugar

2 Tbs flour

1 1/2 Tsp cinnamon

Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine flour and salt in large bowl.  Add Crisco to flour and using your fingers blend until mixture resembles large peas. Beat egg, water, and vinegar together and pour into flour mixture.  Stir with a fork until blended.  Divide dough in half and shape each portion into a ball.  Flatten each into a 4″ circle, wrap in Saran, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Dust rolling-pin and board with flour.  Roll one portion of dough out to fit an 8″ pie plate with a 1″ overhang.  Carefully place dough into greased pie plate.

Peel, core, and slice apples and mix with sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon juice.  Place apple mixture in pie shell.  Roll out second piece of dough and  place on top.  Crimp edges or just fold over for a more rustic looking pie.  Cut slits in the top crust to allow for steam to escape or use a pie bird.  Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes, until pie is fully baked and apples are tender.

Enjoy,

Irene

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

This is a post from last Thanksgiving but some of you are new to Bamitbach and I wanted to introduce you to my standard dessert for the holiday.  I have been in NYC for the last five days and have had many wonderful experiences, meals, and moments.  I am thankful that I was able to spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving with all of my children as well as my sister and brother-in-law.  I look forward to being home and celebrating with the family and friends who can join us, but I am equally happy knowing that those who can’t join us are, thankfully, in good hands.   Happy Thanksgiving.

 

 

November 2010

My sister recalls that I came home from Kindergarten and told my mother that I wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving.  At that point my parents and sister would have been living in the United States for about seven years,  and were open to the idea of celebrating this “American” holiday.  That was the beginning of a new tradition for our family, Thanksgiving dinner.

I remember my mother roasting a turkey, prepared the same way she prepared roast chicken for Shabbat, with lots of garlic, salt and pepper.  She made candied sweet potatoes, a dish she learned from my cousin’s housekeeper Edith, and a delicious stuffing made with challah, mushrooms, celery, carrots and caramelized onions.  It was sort of an Eastern European Thanksgiving dinner.  No guests, no fanfare, no cornucopia, but I always found it special and meaningful.

As a child of immigrants, the Thanksgiving narrative of people who came to America searching for religious freedom always resonated with me.  As a child of survivors, I understood that my family had much to be thankful for.  It was not a story from a textbook, it was the story of my family.  America welcomed them and gave them a fresh start, shelter, the ability to live openly and proudly as Jews, and a place to put down roots and watch their families grow and flourish.  For each of those reasons, and more, I will always be thankful.

Our Thanksgiving dinner is very traditional, given some dietary restrictions.  We have mulled cider, Turkey, stuffing, corn bread, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie and our favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

3 1/2 cups flour

3 cups sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1 1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup oil

2/3 cup water

2 cups canned pumpkin

1 12 oz. pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips, tossed with 1 tbsp flour

Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt. Combine eggs with oil, water and pumpkin and mix well. Stir into dry ingredients.  Fold chocolate chips in to batter.  Divide mixture among three greased loaf pans.  Bake at 350 for one hour or until toothpick inserted into loaf comes out dry.


Enjoy,

Irene

Rosie’s Pickled Vegetables (Hamutzim)

My mother had close friends who moved to Israel in the 1940s and settled on a Moshav, Kfar Meishar, near Gedera.  Although she had not seen them since the end of the war they had kept in touch, and when I made my first trip to Israel at age 16,  my mother insisted that I visit them.  Sonia and Manya made me feel right at home even though I spoke no Hebrew and very little Yiddish.  They doted on me, and took turns serving me food that was not only familiar, but almost identical to the food that my mother served.  The women and their families lived in houses that were spitting distance from one another and each day I was asked whose house I was going to sleep in and where I would be eating breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I often ended up eating six meals a day, trying hard not to offend either of them.  They couldn’t do enough for me and the intensity of their affection did not push me away, it drew me in, like being wrapped in a warm blanket on a rainy day.  Sonia and Manya are no longer alive but when either my daughter or I go to Israel, we always visit their children and grandchildren.  Friendships that span three generations are rare and it only happens if everyone makes the effort to keep the connection alive.  I could never imagine visiting Israel without spending time with Sonya’s son and daughter-in-law, Aharon and Rosie.  I know that they will welcome us with open arms and I know that Rosie will have pickled vegetables sitting on her kitchen counter.  It’s nice knowing that there are some things you can always count on.

Rosie’s Pickled Vegetables

1 Kohlrabi, cut in thick strips.

3-5 large carrots, cut in bite size pieces

1 red cabbage, sliced

1 cauliflower, broken into small pieces

1 red pepper, sliced

1 green pepper, sliced

1 Serrano chili, cut in pieces

1 head of garlic, peeled

Place the vegetables in a large jar with a lid.

Brine

4 cups of boiling water

2 cups of white vinegar

2 Tbs salt

1/2 cup sugar

Mix ingredients for brine and pour over vegetables, making sure vegetables are covered with liquid.  Do not refrigerate.  Hamutzim will be ready in 2-3 days.

Enjoy,

Irene

 

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

It all comes down to a few essentials.  I don’t think many people are waiting for the roasted Brussel sprouts (even when they are beautifully presented on the stalk) or the cranberry chutney, and some people don’t really like turkey.  For me it is the dressing (we don’t stuff), the sweet potatoes and the corn bread.  Like most things in my life, you can eliminate the extras and find that there are just a few things that really count.  Family, friends and food.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes for Thanksgiving.  Also some photos taken last year in and around Blue Hill at Stone Barns to  help you get in the mood.

Almost any type of sweet potato dish works, I don’t think I have ever tried a recipe that I didn’t like.

I often boil the sweet potatoes in their jackets till soft, mash with some brown sugar and a little bit of margarine and then place in a baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.  Today I tried oven baked sweet potato fries.  Good for a small crowd.

Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries

5 Sweet Potatoes, cut into thin long slices

3-4 Tbsp olive oil

Salt, pepper and garlic salt to taste.

Toss together and bake on a parchment covered cookie sheet at 450 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.  Serves 4-5

Shira’s Corn Pone

We bought a bread cookbook in Amish country when Shira was a little girl.  She makes this recipe for Thanksgiving dinner every year.  It’s great for dinner and cut in half, toasted and served with butter the next morning!!!!

1 c. sugar

1/2 cup butter or  pareve margarine

2 eggs

1  1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal

1  1/2 cups flour

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups milk or non-dairy creamer

Cream together margarine and sugar.  Add beaten eggs and mix well.  In a bowl, sift cornmeal with flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour and milk alternately to batter.  Pour into greased and floured 9x 13 baking dish.  Bake at 450″ for 30-35 minutes.  I  think the texture is better if made the day before.  Serves 8-10

Pumpkin Bread, a yearly traditional dessert.  This recipe has spread far and wide and I love that!  Click on the link for the recipe.

Manya’s Mushroom Stuffing

1 1/2 lbs. brown mushrooms or a combination of mushrooms
2 large onions
2 large carrots
2 stalks celery
4 eggs, beaten
1 large Challah,  crust removed.
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp vegetable oil

Dice onions and sauté in olive oil over low flame until a rich golden color, this can take up to 30 minutes.
Dice carrots and celery and add to onions and sauté for about ten minutes until tender.  Raise heat slightly, add sliced mushrooms and cook an extra 15 minutes.  Allow to cool and place in large mixing bowl.
Remove crust and run challah under warm water until soft.  Then squeeze challah and add to mushroom mixture.  Add beaten eggs, salt and pepper.
Prepare 9×13 pan by adding 2-3 Tbsp oil, make sure bottom and sides are well-greased and place in 350 degree oven for several minutes.  Take out and immediately pour in stuffing  mixture.  Brush with olive oil.

Bake at 350 for about 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Serves 6-8

Please send in your family favorites to share!

Enjoy,

Irene