I made it to the farmers’ market last Saturday just in time for the book signing to begin. I was a bit surprised to see how small the market was, but soon realized that not all the produce farmers arrived yet, due to the limited availability of items during the early spring season. That could be why the market will move to a new location soon- to make room for more vendors. Actually, the next outdoor market opens on May 6 and moves to Lincoln Park.
A short wait and chat with another Alice Waters fan behind me later, I stepped up to the plate, so to speak, and asked the genteel Ms. Walters to sign my local library’s copy of Edible Schoolyard (I had prior permission). I then pressed my luck by asking her to sign personal stationary I decorated with cutouts of the beautiful Chez Panisse Foundation logo and artwork just for the occasion. If she thought it strange or was annoyed by the request, I couldn’t tell- she just kindly asked how I wanted it signed. I could tell she was as sweet a person as I’d seen on television years ago when she made a fennel salad for Julia Child.
After the quiet excitement of meeting a living culinary legend, we stepped out of the sheltered area and right into the market place, finding ourselves among local honey, freshly made pasta and pasta sauce, chunky mushrooms and $5 bags of beautiful bright green lettuce. What did we really need to buy? Better yet, what would make it home unwilted after a whole day in the car trekking from one end of the city to another?
While circling around the market at least once to preview all the goods, I desired to eat something homemade, something I could enjoy in the moment. I asked about the ingredients first then settled on a round, freshly made blackberry pastry that had a bread dough on the outside and a Danish style cheese in the middle, dotted with three dark blue berries. The bakers of Bennison’s Bakery, located in Evanston, IL have my vote for truly fresh and delicious pastries. The breads looked incredible, too.
We wanted to support the farmers and purchase at least one fresh, locally grown product. I wanted to try Honey Crisp apples after a friend suggested they were sweet, delicious and worth an effort to find. It only took a few seconds to see a basket full of them at a nearby stall where we munched on a sample and then whisked away our own. They weren’t as sweet as we expected, so a mental note to myself said I would sweeten them up in an apple pie, perfect for the dessert needed for a lunch invitation the next day.
Below is the recipe for my Honey Crisp Apple Pie. It’s a combination of pie recipes I’ve read- off the back of Trader Joe’s pie crusts boxes, magazine clippings, online tips. In the end, it was really one of the thickest, richest apple pies I’d ever made—and we finally sweetened up the Honey Crisp Apples in the process. Enjoy!
(To find out what delicious Mexican recipe we learned later on in the day at Abuelita’s house, come back to My Halal Kitchen soon!)
DOUBLE-CRUST HONEY CRISP APPLE PIE
Ready-made pastry dough (2 pack)
5 Honey Crisp Apples, or any semi-sweet apples
2 Tb. lemon juice
3 Tb. all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar plus more for dusting
3 Tb. cold butter, diced
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tb. whole milk or heavy cream plus more for brushing
1. Preheat oven to 425°
2. If pie pastry is frozen, follow proper methods for defrosting and keep refrigerated until ready to use, making sure to begin with cold pastry dough only.
3. Peel, seed and core all apples. Remove skins and discard (or they can be dehydrated and later used to make a lovely apple tea).
4. Place all apples in a bowl and sprinkle lemon juice to prevent discoloring. Next, add flour and mix well. Add sugar to coat and mix gently.
5. Place one round sheet of pastry dough on bottom of pie dish. Gently use the tips of your fingers to press the dough outwards so that some is pushed past outer edges of dish.
6. Place apple mixture in the pastry dish and spread evenly. Place diced butter in various places underneath the apples. Next, add on top.
7. Place second sheet of round pastry dough on top. With the tips of your fingers, press into the bottom layer of pastry dough and crimp. Continue all the way around until you have finished.
8. Using a straight-edged knife cut 4 slits into the pie’s top layer of dough. Brush the entire surface with milk and dust with sugar.
9. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350°, cover the crust with a guard or aluminum foil and bake for one hour or until crust surface is golden brown. Allow to cool completely before serving.