Apple Pie for Thanksgiving

It’s way past Thanksgiving, but I did save the pics from baking the apple pie—Whew!

I decided that I was kind of tired of the traditional pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. We weren’t having turkey, either, so tradition was kind of out the window.

As I know from many years of making apple pie, there are pitfalls:

  1. Sometimes the apples aren’t done by the time the crust is done.
  2. The filling can shrink away from the top crust as the apples cook within it. When you cut into such a pie, you think you’ve been cheated out of some filling.
  3. Sometimes the apples are too sweet or too tart because you don’t get to test the filling before it goes into the pie and make adjustments.

So this year, I cooked the filling first. In hindsight, it seems like a no-brainer. The best part of cooking the filling in advance is that you can do it the day before making the pie. You can also make the crust a day ahead so that the day of baking is just assembly and baking. I ended up making the whole pie the day before Thanksgiving so I could just eat on the big day. đź‘Ť

I found this terrific recipe for a Classic Apple Pie with Precooked Apple Filling. It also has what looks like a good crust that you might want to try, even though I opted for a different one. I used a combination of Granny Smith and Macintosh apples to cover both the tart and sweet flavors. I can’t imagine ever making another apple pie without a precooked filling.

For the crust I used the Foolproof All-Butter Dough from Cook’s Illustrated—it’s not the one with vodka. (There may be a paywall that prevents you from reading the recipe if you are not a member.) It’s a nice dough that almost resembles a puff pastry, with many flaky, tender layers, as you may be able to see in the photos. If you look closely at the slits in the baked pie, you can see the layers in the crust. We thought it was the most tender crust we ever had:

I can’t believe I didn’t take any photos of the pie after it was sliced!

Weep no More, My . . . Yogurt?

I hope you’re not throwing out that yogurt or sour cream or ricotta, etc. that is only a few days old, just because it seems to have developed a puddle of watery liquid where you last spooned some out. I know it doesn’t look appetizing, and I usually just pour it off, but you can stir it back in, too, and move on with your recipe.

That liquid actually has a name—whey—and it’s full of nutrients and fine to stir back in. The process of the weeping has a name too—syneresis. Read more about it here.

But if you just can’t stand seeing that liquid, there’s an easy way to prevent it. After you spoon out what you need, use the back of your spoon to smooth out the top of the remaining food, as you might do when frosting a cake. Just smooth it to the point of having no large craters where the whey can seep out.

Here’s what happens when you spoon out some yogurt and just put it away. The next day, the space is filled with watery whey:

Here’s how to prevent that puddle:

Here’s that container after a week of spooning out and smoothing—no whey!

So, if you’re grossed out by that weeping, and you know you’ve been throwing out good food, just smooth it out after using and you’ll be surprised at how brand new it looks every day.

Peach Poblano Jam

We switched to a different variety of poblanos in the garden this year. Last year’s would have been way too hot for this jam, although if you like a jalapeno jelly, you might like the heat. This year’s poblanos started turning red much quicker and are mild enough that you get a chance to taste the pepper. The result in the jam is that you don’t get any heat at first, but then it starts showing up as an afterthought. We kind of liked that.

If you have hotter poblanos, whether or not you like that effect or not, you might consider using fewer in your jam.

My husband says he would eat the jam on biscuits, but I’m mostly planning to serve it with pork or chicken. I think it could work in a fajita as well. Anything savory where a little sweet would complement.

I looked at a lot of recipes for peach jam to compare the amounts of sugar used. For my 3.5 lbs of peaches, I settled on 3 cups of sugar. I didn’t want to use pectin, and I found a number of recipes that didn’t, but I found their cooking directions to be way off—some said to cook it for as little as 10 minutes!! Mine cooked for about as long as my tomato jam, because I was looking for that moment when the wooden spoon dragged a clear path in the jam.

How I decided on the number of poblanos to use is still a mystery to me. I used 4, cut in a small dice. It was enough that they are well distributed throughout like little red jewels. đź‘Ť

Peach Poblano Jam

  • Servings: about 5 cups
  • Difficulty: time-consuming
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Ingredients

  • 3.5 lbs peaches (peeled and seeded weight); 16 medium peaches
  • 10 oz poblano peppers (seeded weight); 4 peppers
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Preparation

  1. Blanch peaches for 1-2 minutes and cool in ice water. Peel peaches and remove pits.
  2. You can chop the peaches by hand to your desired size or pulse them in a food processor or both. I did both, giving me enough tiny pieces to make a thick jam base, with some larger pieces for texture.
  3. Mix peaches, diced peppers, sugar, salt, and lemon juice in a large stock pot. Some recipes let the mixture sit to draw out the fruit’s juices first, some for as long as overnight. I didn’t wait, and that could have affected my cooking time.
  4. Bring to a boil over medium to medium-high heat, then lower to a simmer that keeps the mixture bubbling without a lid. On my gas burner, it’s the LOW setting.
  5. Stir occasionally until the mixture stops foaming and begins to thicken. That happened for me after 1 hour. It just clicked over like a switch.
  6. After the jam begins to thicken stir more often to prevent sticking until you can drag a wooden spoon through it and it leaves a trail in the bottom of the pan. That took another hour. It all depends on how juicy your peaches are. Just keep at it and it will thicken. I set up my thermometer, because I was curious. It hovered at about 175Âş until the end.
  7. Spoon into clean jars or containers and refrigerate for 1-2 weeks or freeze. I can’t advise you on canning.

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