FROM THE GONZO CHEF:
Apple Pie à la Bridge on the River Kwai
It’s that time of year and after the second frost I pick the Macs and Braeburns, skin them with my old red Rube Goldberg peeler. Out comes my dinged Chinese cleaver and I slice the flesh neat. The Joy of Cooking is at my side to make sure I have some sense of political correctness in assembling this pie.
I’m a barehanded Gonzo. First cinnamon is dusted like a sand storm on the apples, followed by eight twirls of the nutmeg mill. Kate’s butter (I splurged), I cut up in small chunks and mix it in. Then I added hot little cinnamon candies I bought at the Vermont Country Store when I was passing through. They are the size of a blueberry.
Hey, that’s a good idea! I go in the freezer, grab a handful of blueberries and dump them in and do another turn over. . I’m hand diving in the bowl, turning over the apples and all those spices, and start licking my fingers. Hmm, it needs three chunks of pineapple and I just happen to have them hidden in the bottom of the freezer.
Well, I only made one other apple pie in my life and it was mostly a failure so to play it safe I bought the crust, rolled it out on the counter, let it warm up, and put half of it in a nine inch aluminum pie pan. I had heated the oven up to 450 and put the crust and pan in the oven to stiffen it so it won’t get soggy from all the juices. You know, next time I will make my own crust. I just heard of a woman who used vodka to give her crust a little special oomph.
Time for a drink of bourbon made with the juice from the pie, ice and a cherry. Lots of it. YUM! Jim Beam is a friend of mine.
A good hit on this sort of old fashioned kicks my imagination into gear. Something is missing. THAT’S IT! My memory goes back to the apple sauce I make with habanero flakes my daughter sends me from London, England. Dodie and Fred’s Taqueria near Portobello is the best Mexican restaurant in London.
So out comes the tin with the habanero flakes. I dump a bunch in the palm of hand, take a pinch and sprinkle and mix it. Give it a taste. Hmmm. Another pinch, this one bigger and I turn over the mixture.
I scurried through the cupboard and found some dried currants in a bag. Dumped them all in. Then I took very Black B no-name maple syrup from Cold Hollow Cider Mill and did a couple of dozy dos with the bottle over the pie mix. Then a couple more. Another turnover. Dumped in two tablespoons of cornstarch, a couple of shakes from the vanilla bottle.
Then with a dishtowel I covered the bowl and slid it in the refrigerator to hang out overnight with my habanero and chipotle applesauce and that big saucepan of soup-stew that turned out awful. I used blue cheese (I call it Roquefort). Blue cheese should be eaten only with blue cheese. Some like it on steak but they have forked tongues.
Twenty-four hours later I pulled out the pie pan, removed the dishcloth covering and did an amuse-bouche tasting. DAMN! A bit too biting with Habanero. I can take it but others might not. Well…nothing wrong with that. In the oven at 450 for 10 minutes, timed with my I Phone, than 35 minutes at 350. And I let it cool down in the oven.
Bought a half-gallon of Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream made in Iowa. It costs $3.99, less than half of Hagen Daz or Ben and Jerry’s and made with eggs, cream, vanilla, milk and skim milk, which gives it an incredible lightness of being. Ice cream idiots from hot states don’t bloat themselves with high butterfat content from Jersey cows.
I taste the pie. I buttered and sprinkled milk and brown sugar on the crust and it was good and true said my cooking partner Ernest, who ate a bland pie on the Big Two Hearted River.
Oh dear, quite a Habanero bite. I circumcise out a triangle, dump on the ice cream and taste. PERFECT! The ice cream dulls just enough of the Habanero overload.
BUT…but…is this pie darkly dyed by blueberries and no grade black maple syrup… Did I make… a Bridge On the River Kwai pie, more suitable for Colonel Saito’s table?
WHAT HAVE I…DONE? I pick up the pie and lurch towards the disposal and then it grabs me.
Hey, what this pie needs the next time is a couple of slugs of dark Jamaican rum, And a froth of egg nog instead of ice cream!