Apple pie – the flavours of fall

Fall is back in town, amazingly it has a nicer face than the summer had this year in the northern part of Europe. The days are shorter, but the sun is shinning a bit more than it did it for the past months. Well, I am not trying to write a weather report, but just to get into an autumn atmosphere. But despite its pitfalls, the autumn is a great season in terms of food and of flavour richness. It is a bit like an old wise person – saw it all and now is ready to share the knowledge. The fall produce is usually a bit more heavy, it takes a bit longer to understand its “wise-ness”, just think about pumpkins, apples, pears, quince, figs, beetroot. You don’t get that jumping for joy taste, but a bit more down to earth aromas and flavours.

And to celebrate the beginning of fall, I made some apple pie – thus filling the house with rich cinnamon, vanilla and fresh pastry flavours .

apple pie

serves 4


Pastry

350 grams flour

225 cold butter

30 grams sugar

60 ml ice water

1 pinch of salt, vanilla

Cut the butter in small cubes. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla.   Add the butter and water and mix until the dough comes together. Do not over mix the dough, otherwise the pastry will become hard, rather than nice and crispy. Cover it in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes – 1 hour.

Apple filling

5 apples

4 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

30 grams butter

2 tablespoons cognac

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 vanilla beans

Peel the apples and cut them in cubes. Melt the butter over low heat, in a medium saucepan. Add the apples, the sugar, cinnamon, vanilla. Cook until the sugar is melted, for about 5 minutes. Add the cornstarch and mix well. When the apples are cooked (do not overcook), sprinkle the cognac over the apples and flambe it. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

To assemble the pies, roll out the pastry (3 mm thick) and fit it in tart tins. Fill up the tarts with the apple mixture and seal them with another sheath of rolled out dough, closing the edgesproperly. Brush the top of the tarts with egg wash.


Bake the pies in a preheated oven at 180C for 40 minutes or until they become golden and the pastry is cooked through. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.


placinta de mere

Blatul
  • 350 grame faina
  • 225 grame unt rece
  • 30 grame zahar
  • 60 ml apa rece
  • un praf sare
  • vanilie

Umplutura de mere

  • 5 mere
  • 4 linguri zahar
  • jumatate lingurita scortisoara
  • 30 grame unt
  • 2 linguri cognac
  • 1 lingura amidon
  • vanilie

Se taie untul in cuburi mici. Intr-un vas se combina faina, sarea, zaharul si vanilia. Se adauda untul si se amesteca pana cand untul se amesteca relativ omogen cu faina. se adauga apa rece, astfel incat aluatul sa devina compact si relativ omogen. Nu framantati aluatul foarte mult, astfel baza tartei devine ff tare. Acoperiti cu folie de plastic si lasati aluatul sa se odihneasca la frigider o ora.

Curatati merele si taiati-le in cubulete. Topiti untul pe foc mic, intr-o tigaie de marime medie.Adaugati merele, zaharul, scortisoara si vanilia. Gatiti pana cand zaharul se topeste, apoi adaugati amidonul. Adaugati cognacul peste mere si flambati-l pana alcoolul se dizolva. Lasati merele sa se raceasca.

Asamblati prin a intinde aluatul pana ajunge la o grosime de 3 mm. Se aseaza in formele de tarta, se umple tarta cu umplutura de mere. Deasupra se aseaza o foaie de aluat , ca un capac.

Coaceti la 180 de grade pentru 30 de minute sau pana cand tarta capata o culoare aramie.

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Papoutsaki, the most delicious shoes ever

The greek flavours are coming come back to my blog. This time in the form of papoutsakia. The little fancy shoes are great either as main dish or as an appetizer. This dish came to mind when I have seen the September challenge of the  Dulce Romanie Project . unfortunately, I couldn’t participate to this contest during the previous months even though I would’ve loved to do it, the proposed ingredients were simply great. This time, the dishes had to contain one of the following ingredients: eggplant and/or pear. As I couldn’t find any pears at the market and all the greek flavours that I encountered during my holidays in Greece were still fresh in my mind, I made some papoutsakia.

Papoutsakia consists mainly of stuffed eggplants topped with bechamel sauce.

The name – little shoes come from the fact that the eggplant sliced in half and stuffed with aromas, veggies and meat resembles some pretty shoes. Ok, ok  – not really Manolo Blahnik material, but pretty damn tasty ones.

papoutsakia

serves 2

Stuffed eggplants

2 large eggplants

1 big onion

2 garlic cloves

2 chicken breasts chopped in small pieces or 250 grams ground meat

one can of tomatoes or 300 grams chopped tomatoes

olive oil

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

salt, pepper, oregano

graviera or kefalotyri cheese

Cut the eggplants in half lengthwise and scoop out most of the eggplant flesh using a spoon and a knife. Sprinkle the eggplant shells with salt and let them “sweat”for 10 minutes, Meanwhile chop the scooped-out eggplant flesh and cook them olive oil, in a pan over medium fire, until browned and wilted.

Separately, pat dry the eggplant shells and then grill them until they soften slightly without loosing their shape.

In a pan, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and over medium high heat, cook the onion until golden brown and soft. Add the garlic, cook it for 30 seconds and then add the ground meat and continue cooking for about 5-10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. Add the cooked eggplant flesh, season everything with salt and pepper and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add the cinnamon, oregano, sugar and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 30-40 minutes until sauce has thickened. Remove pan from heat and set meat sauce aside.

 
Bechamel sauce

30 grams butter

30 grams flour

250 ml milk

1 egg

125 grams graviera or kefalotyri  cheese

1 half teaspoon nutmeg

salt, pepper

Melt the butter in a pan, over low heat, and as soon as it starts bubbling stir in the flour,  whisking constantly until the flour gets slightly toasted. Add in the milk and continue whisking for about 8–10 minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat, add 125 grams of graviera or kefalotyri  cheese and the egg. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

Pre-heat the oven at 170-200C. Set the eggplant shells in a baking tray, spoon the meat sauce in the shells.  Spoon bechamel sauce over the shells, sprinkle graviera or kefalotyri  cheese (gouda  and parmesan cheese in my case, since I couldn’t find any greek cheese around) and bake for about 20-30 minutes or until the top of the eggplants reaches a golden brown colour and the eggplants are tender and cooked throughout.