During last semester I promised my Sophomores that I would blog about each and every one of them. I knew better. I have real trouble concentrating for an hour, and I make a promise to concentrate for a fortnight. Orignially I was going to just write stories in which each one appears. I fiddled with it, but I can’t seem to make it work. I suppose I could create a tale in the tradition of Lord of the Flies where I put the whole group on a Pacific island somewhere, but that would’t work. They would just cooperate and build Eutopia which does not make an interesting story. If it really happened they would enjoy it and all live to be 120, but on the page it would read like cold oatmeal.
So…I will keep the promise as far as I am able, and I begin with Anhao. Anhao was my student for his Freshman and Sophomore years. He is a good sport and hard worker, and he really blossomed when I made him the Director of Cinematorgraphy for the class film of Julius Caesar. The fact that the hard drive on which he was processing the final film crashed made the adventure bittersweet.
In honor of Anhao, I offer here some suggestions on how to make a deep dish apple pie. This recipe comes straight from my head, and so follow it with care. Above all else, think of recipes as sheet music and do not be afraid to create variations.
For the filling you will need seven apples cored, peeled and sliced thin. I suggest four Pink Ladies and three Granny Smiths. These are tart, firm apples that maintain character even after they have been seasoned and cooked. Into the bowl of these sliced apples add the juice of one lemon, a splash of apple vinegar, a spash of Cointreau, a half a cup of brown sugar, plenty of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of allspice.
I have never been the master of pie crust, but I feel comfortable with this recipe. It yields a simple, flakey crust that bakes well. Cut one half cup of chilled shortning and one quarter cup of cold butter into two cups of sifted, all purpose flour and a teaspoon of salt. Use two knives, a pasty tool, or fingers to do this. I use my fingers, but I have used two knives in the past. Use super clean, dry hands to do this. Once the combination looks like course meal (with some pea-sized lumps of shortning and butter in it) add ice water until the dough holds together and has the slightest touch of elasticity. Do NOT overwork pie crust. Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and cool it for about an hour. I usually make the crust dough first then do the apple work.
Once the dough has chilled, cut it in half. Roll the two halves into circles a little less than a quarter inch thick. Put the bottom half in a deep dish and pierce the bottom and sides with a fork. Layer the sliced apples into the crust then use the other crust to cover the apples. Vent the top crust to let the steam escape while baking. Place in a 425 degree oven for fifty minutes.
I like to serve apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. My only problem with this pie is I want to serve it before it has cooled.
I know Anhao would like this pie. I don’t know if they make apple pie in China, but Anhao has a sweet tooth and is ready to try any dish that smells as good as this pie does.
If I were serving this to Anhao warm, I would use the ice cream because I know he loves food. By his own admission he has made himself woozy from eating too quickly. Ice cream would prevent him from burning his tongue. I like Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean.
One student down, I have fourteen to go. Which one should I write about tomorrow?