Between pinterest, google reader, and an ever growing cookbook collection, I read a lot of recipes. Usually I file them away so that I can peruse my favorites when trying to plan a menu. But every once in a while a recipe is so memorable that it pops into your head a whole year later, while at the grocery store frantically trying to finalize the memorial day barbeque. This recipe would fall into that category.
Normally I wouldn’t think of apple pie as a traditional Fourth of July dessert, but a star spangled apple pie – well that’s entirely patriotic. It’s amazing what a few star cut outs can do for the “festive” level of a dessert. Served with ice cream, a possibly a slice of cheddar cheese, it’s perfect for summertime. And after all the saying does go, “As American as apple pie”.
The other thing I really liked about this recipe was how simple it was – most of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. But since the crust is really the “star” in this pie, I think a homemade one is almost imperative. I had a little bit of trouble with overbrowning, so next time I make this I plan to tent some foil over the top to help even cooking. As you may know, I’m somewhat partial to sugar, but I truly did think that the sugar crystals elevated the crust from good to great, and would probably add even more when I make this for the next patriotic holiday.
Star Spangled Apple Pie
Makes 1 9-inch pie
- Pie Crust
- 6 medium/large Granny Smith apples (about 2½ lbs.), peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- ¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
- 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (for egg wash)
- Coarse sugar/Sugar sprinkles
On a lightly floured surface, roll out half of the pie dough into approximately a 12-inch round. (Keep the other half of the pie dough chilled for now.) Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie plate, trimming the excess and crimping the edges. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes in order to help the crust hold it’s shape while baking.
Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sliced apples, sugars, flour, spices and lemon juice. Toss well to combine. When the bottom crust is finished chilling, pour the apple mixture and accumulated juices into the bottom pie crust and use a spatula to even the top out slightly. Place thin slices of cold butter over the apples. Roll out the remaining pie dough on a floured work surface. Cut out numerous star shapes and use these to cover the top of the pie, using as much of the dough as possible. Brush the top and edges of the crust with the egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Place the pie on the upper rack and bake until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling, about 50-60 minutes. Watch carefully and tent with foil for the 2nd half of baking if necessary to prevent overbrowning. Transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Slightly Adapted from Annie’s Eats
Usually I’m one of those people who remembers the 4th of July on the 3rd of July, but this year was different. Since we have some organized and adventurous friends, we had a camping trip planned about month in advance of the holiday weekend. This was a good lesson for me in the fact that “anticipation is half the fun”, because it really was exciting having something to look forward to. I even bought some red and blue marshmallow roasting sticks as well as color coordinating paper plates to take with us. And of course, I was excited to plan some of the menu. When I saw this smoked gouda pasta salad, I immediately bookmarked it as a must try, and I thought camping would be the perfect opportunity.
I’m very familiar with the Caprese type pasta salad, and while the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella are tasty, I often feel that they are not strong enough flavors to create an interesting pasta salad. I’ve made that type of salad many times, and usually end up picking out everything but the pasta. That’s what I think is so great about this recipe – the pasta itself has some great flavor. It’s also really easy to make and requires pretty basic ingredients. While you might not regularly buy chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, they add a lot of great flavor for a small cost. The thing that used to annoy me about them is that most recipes only call for 1-2 peppers and I would inevitably let the leftovers sit in the fridge until they looked so gross that I didn’t feel guilty throwing them away- but I have found the solution. Well, actually I should say that Sara over at Our Best Bites has found the solution: freeze the peppers in individual cubes of how much you might need. See her post here to see what I’m talking about. But seriously, don’t skip the chipotles- the adobo has very little spice but adds a smokey flavor that complements the gouda nicely. Then you can make this pasta salad and eat it out of individual ziplocs like we did on our picnic (classy I know). Or don’t do that, and eat it like a normal person, out of a bowl – I’m pretty sure it will taste good either way.
By the way, we went to Mackinac Island. You should totally make the trip if you live anywhere near Michigan, or even if you don’t. I did not remember such cool places existing in Michigan – it’s kind of making me change my view of the Midwest (at least until winter comes :-)).
Smoked Gouda Pasta Salad
Serves 10-12 as a side
- 1 lb (16 oz) Mostaccioli pasta
- 1/2 cup light Mayonnaise
- 1/3 cup Milk (I used part skim, part cream)
- 5 Tablespoons White Vinegar
- 1 T. Adobo Sauce From Chipotle Peppers
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper To Taste
- 2 pints Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
- 1/2 pound Smoked Gouda Cheese, Cut Into Small Cubes
- 30 whole Basil Leaves, sliced thin (chiffonade)
1. Cook pasta according to pasta directions. Drain and rinse in cold water to prevent pasta from sticking.
2. In a large bowl, mix mayonnaise, milk, vinegar, salt, pepper, and adobo sauce.
3. Add the pasta, halved tomatoes, cubed gouda and basil to the sauce in the large bowl. Stir to incorporate, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Chill before serving (or keep on ice in your camping cooler).
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman
When John and I took a trip out to New Mexico over spring break, in addition to skiing, hiking and visiting with my in-laws, we got to try this great restaurant called Graham’s Grill. (Side Note: it’s pretty nice to have parents-in-law that both happen to live in vacation spots :-)). The restaurant combines the traditional flavors of the southwest but puts it’s own unique spin on them. The chef, Lesley B. Fay recently came out with a cookbook called Straight From the Heart, and my mother-in-law was nice enough to surprise me at the end of the meal with my very own copy. I have looked through the cookbook so many times trying to decide what to make but I finally decided that I couldn’t pass up a recipe combining 2 of America’s greatest inventions – S’mores and Nachos. (Another side note: I used to think nachos were from Mexico – then I went there in college and searched every restaurant menu for them only to find out that they don’t actually serve nachos in Mexico… definitely an American creation.)
The original recipe called for deep frying tortillas, but after my recent frying disaster, I chose to make them in the oven instead . It was actually a good reinforcement that never again do I need to fry anything, because the “chips” still came out crisp and delicious without having to mess with hot oil. In fact, I think cinnamon-sugar chips would be a pretty great snack on their own – so next time I will likely make a double batch. The recipe itself is pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll have to say Lesley must be some kind of genius for thinking up the idea of “S’more nachos” in the first place! If you really want to go crazy, you could try using ice cream as a dip for these nachos. I’m sure this would be fabulous – warm cinnamon chips against cool ice cream – but you might have to skip dinner all together if you want to try that. So if you don’t have the pleasure of a campfire this Fourth of July, make this instead….It’s definitely easier than building a fire ;-).
For the chips:
- 6-8 small (6 inch) flour tortillas
- 3 T. melted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 T. cinnamon
For the Topping:
- 1/2 cup chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows
- chocolate syrup for drizzling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°. Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a dish. Using a pastry brush, spread melted butter onto both sides of the tortillas. Sprinkle 1 side of each tortilla with a covering of cinnamon-sugar mixture. Using a kitchen scissors (or knife), cut each tortilla into 8-10 triangles. Without overlapping, place triangles sugar side up on a large baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges turn up.
Remove chips from oven and combine into a pile on a small baking sheet or oven-proof dish. Sprinkle with chocolate chips, white chocolate chips and marshmallows. Turn the oven on broil, and place the baking sheet on the middle rack (too close to the heat will catch your marshmallows on fire). Watch carefully until the marshmallows are browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a serving dish and drizzle chocolate syrup over the chips. Serve warm.
And the Aftermath:
- Nachos Adapted from from Straight From the Heart by Lesley B. Fay.
- Cinnamon Chips adapted from Our Best Bites