Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fall Pantry Challenge Item One - Apples and Pie Crust

Fall Pantry Challenge - Item One
Sidebar: I prepared several items for this Pantry Challenge at one time to make the best use of a hot oven. I am presenting them in posts this week in entirely arbitrary and potentially random order.

In case you just dropped in, I am on a week long quest, in honor of the official onset of Fall, to use up rather than throwing out several items that have been sitting around in our pantry/refrigerator for longer than they should. In a previous post I listed out the items I intend to try and rescue from food oblivion. First up were a half dozen organic Granny Smith apples and the second out of a package of two ready made refrigerated pie crusts.

I will try not to bore you with a lot of hooraw about making applesauce. Applesauce has to be about the easiest thing to fix there is. As always, there are folks who try to make this more complicated. They say use only naturally sweet apples, they say peel, they say don't peel.

Here's what I do. I core, peel and slice whatever the hell apples I have on hand, put them in a heavy saucepan with about 1/2 inch of filtered water.  I cook them over low heat, stirring occasionally, however long it takes until they begin to break apart. If the resulting applesauce doesn't taste sweet enough at that point I add some sugar and/or cinnamon. If I am feeling really artsy fartsy, I'll stick out my little finger and sprinkle in a pinch of allspice.  Done.

To be honest, I hadn't made applesauce after organic unsweetened applesauce became available in those adorably handy 1/4 cup plastic tubs. We aren't huge applesauce eaters, and if I was going to cook apples, I leaned more in the desserty rustic tart, or protein side sauteéd in wine direction. Since our kids are out of the house, I don't buy apples in bulk and had not recently been faced with using up apples that had gotten bruised or gone soft.

All that to explain why when I endeavored to make applesauce with a half dozen clearly past their prime organic Granny Smiths I inherited from my daughter before she moved out of state, I wasn't entirely confident using less than primo apples would result in anything other than applemush.

I am delighted to report there was no need for concern. The applesauce turned out just fine. The half dozen apples yielded what looks to be about 3-4 cups of applesauce, now sitting safely in the refrigerator.Also on the Pantry Challenge list was one of those ready-made refrigerator pie crusts. I have no idea how long it has been sitting around in the refrigerator door, I can't clearly recall using the first crust out of that package, truth be told. I figured if I opened the package and it had significantly dried out I would reluctantly regroup, but if it looked at all pliable I would make a run at putting together some Apple Empanaditas.

I typically make empanaditas for Thanksgiving with mincemeat filling.  Long ago and far away, mincemeat empanaditas were the first dish I made to bring and share at a group Thanksgiving dinner as a young married person. Everybody raved so I kept making them year after year, eventually because they were fun to do with my kids, and then long after my kids stopped wanting to help in the kitchen. Over the years they moved from being my first public culinary triumph to becoming a family tradition for the holidays. Honestly, I'd always meant to try out a different filling...eventually....

Eventually starts today. Here's the basic drill.
Apple Empanaditas
Dough for one crust
3/4 cup cooked fruit filling
2 tablespoons sugar mixed with 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or whatever proportion hits your taste buds just right)
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Roll pie crust (however you get there - homemade, store bought, whatever) extra thin.Cut dough into circles with a diameter of about 3 1/2 to 4 inches. I use a drinking glass.Sprinkle middle of circle with cinnamon sugar.Place tablespoon of apple filling in center.
Fold over and crimp with tines of fork.Using curve of fork, neaten up edges.Bake on foil lined sheet pan at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack.
While still hot sprinkle with powdered sugar.Cool completely. Store covered in refrigerator if not consuming within 24 hours.Yield: Approximately a dozen empanaditas.

There are all sorts of filling options you could try. Any sort of not too runny cooked fruit bits work well in this format. Of course there are also scads of options using more savory fillings. Little meat and/or vegetable pies play a role in cuisines around the globe.

Long term storage for empanaditas won't be an issue. Trying to make sure they last past one evening for just the two of us with no witnesses, will be. 

Aside from the little pies, as long as we eat up the rest of the applesauce promptly, round one of the Fall Pantry Challenge definitely goes to me. (yay me!)

No comments: