It is with pleasure that I introduce a guest post by my husband, the resident pie-baker!
I grew up in Michigan, and in my family it was always cherry pie in the summertime, made with the best tart cherries from the northern lower peninsula. It’s really the cherry capital of the US, second to none, especially for sweet cherries. I never cared too much about apple pie, until I went off to Notre Dame and had an incredible piece of apple-walnut pie at The Carriage House in S. Bend, Indiana. The building is a white-plank siding, green trimmed rectangle in the northern Indiana farmland, at that time owned and operated by Evelyn George, a proprietaire of great style, class, taste, beauty and charm. Unfortunately, Evelyn died in 2000, but her daughter carries on the culinary tradition. Inside, a variety of simple pleasures, native and imported, may be found, including the apple-walnut pie. That pie stuck in my mind for fifteen years, until I tried to duplicate it. Last weekend I made it again. This time I was spurred to action by a big box of apples sitting next to the entry door of my building, underneath a hand-written sign stating “Northern Spy apples – best pie apple.” Talk about throwing down the gauntlet!
Having before baked many berry pies, to approximate the Carriage House pie I went back, back, to the 1st edition of the Joy of Cooking, and made a few modifications to tweak the outcome in Ms. George’s direction. Once we got to know the Carriage House we enjoyed many, many fine meals therein, and it gives me pleasure to remember it and make this pie in memory of the lovely Evelyn George.
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
1 recipe for double crust pie dough (we used this one)
for the filling:
6 Northern Spy apples or other tart apples — peeled, cored, & sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 Tablespoon lemon juice — freshly squeezed
3/4 cup walnuts — coarsely chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg — freshly grated
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoons butter — melted
for the frosting
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Make a pie crust of your choice. No pre-baking necessary.
Make the filling: I’ve used Jona Gold and Granny Smith apples in the past, but the Northern Spy apples of Kansas were outstanding this time. Tey were another gift from a colleague of ours, the great gardener behind that big box of raspberries in our recent past.
Squeeze the lemon over the apple slices. Brown the chopped walnuts in the olive oil over medium heat, and lightly salt the nuts. Reserve. Mix the sugars with the corn starch, cinnamon, and nutmeg, sprinkle over the apples and mix gently. Add the golden raisins.
Roll out the pie crust and cover the bottom of a pie dish. Fill the pie crust shell with the apple mixture, arranging the slices into layers that completely fill the pie. Dot the layers with thin slices of butter, up to 1 + 1/2 tablespoon. Sprinkle the toasted walnuts on the top of the filling. Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle it over the filling.
Make a lattice top of from the second disk of pie dough, and cover the pie with it. For Northern Spy apples, bake at 450 degrees F for 10 min, then reduce the heat to 350 F and bake for 65-70 min more. Cover the crust with aluminum foil if it seems to be browning too much at the end of the cooking time. The Northern Spy apples are very juicy and resilient and will remain firm even after a long baking. For Jona Gold apples, bake about 10 min less.
While the pie is baking, make the frosting by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl. This should be thin enough to pour but thick enough to stay together when you drizzle it on the pie; add more sugar or water as necessary to get a good consistency. After the pie cools drizzle some the frosting over the pie, and into the holes of the lattice. Not too much, just enough to pump it up “a tiny notch.”
to print the recipe, click here
Here’s one last small story about Evelyn George. On one occasion we asked for her recommendation on wine (she was a true connaisseur of fine wine), and she suggested to us a bottle of Sonoma-Cutrer chardonnay, with the additional tip “..I like it served ice-cold.” I was skeptical, but accepted her suggestion and drank the wine fully chilled on ice. It was the most luscious, silky and perfectly fruity chardonnay that I ever tasted. From that day forward, I prefer my chardonnay ice-cold!
Comments from Sally: I don’t know that many guys who can face making an apple pie on a Sunday night, after a weekend that was pretty charged with stuff to do, both at home and in the lab. My contribution was to make the pie dough early in the morning, and roll out the dough for the base. The lattice work could only be made by someone with that certain type of patience found in golfers. ;-) We took the pie to the department after lunch on Monday, and by 2:30pm only crumbs were left on the plate.
As to The Carriage House, we only once had the opportunity of having dinner there together, and I was blown away by the place! That particular evening they had Beef Wellington on the menu, and of course it was our choice. Spectacular dinner, in a very romantic setting. If you live in the area, or you are passing through the Bend on I80, it’s worth a visit for that special occasion.
ONE YEAR AGO: Chicken Marsala
TWO YEARS AGO: Home, Sweet Home (we still miss you, Pits!)
THREE YEARS AGO: Brazilian Black Beans