Well, winter is officially here. I checked the weather this morning, as I obsessively do each morning, and the photo they used today was of a blue thermometer. BLUE. Kramer usually hates when I turn the heat on, but even he woke up and immediately reached for it to turn it on. It’s so cold. I think it’s only supposed to last for a few days, then go back up to a more reasonable temperature, but I am not looking forward to stepping foot outside my apartment this morning. The cold started this weekend, but we did our best to stay inside. We saw our friend’s improv show on Friday night, but beforehand we ate well at Flinders Lane, where we had shrimp laksa, meat pie and pan-roasted scallops with nori. On Saturday, I did some cooking while Kramer did homework, then we met up with our friend Danny for dinner at Le Barricou, followed by drinks with friends at Burnside. On Sunday, Kramer continued with his homework while I made a pie and prepped some other things for a Thanksgiving shoot with Business Insider (more on that later), then we met up with our friends Morgan and Robyn for dinner at Ootoya, which is one of my favorite places. We had tofu salad with bonito and asparagus to share, then Kramer got a huge hot pot with spicy pork and I had a donburi bowl with all kinds of sashimi, alongside pickled vegetables, miso soup and egg custard. And a glass of sake, of course. After dinner, we saw Nightcrawler, which I loved. It was so creepy and weird.
The usual West coast pilgrimage to In-N-Out, hanging by my parent’s pool, wine tasting with mom and dad, and one of my mom’s scones for breakfast. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram!
Annnnnyway, more on my Phoenix trip, which I realize I hadn’t finished telling you about yet, but like I said, it’s been cold. That’s an excuse. Whatever. On Sunday, after the wedding, Kramer headed back to Phoenix to hang out with his family while my friend Andrea picked me up so that we could go to In-N-Out, then my dad could pick me up and take me to North Scottsdale, where he and my mom live. It was good to hang with Andrea one last time and stuff my face with the most delicious burger and milkshake in existence. My dad drove me home, where my mom, him and I proceeded to pop open a bottle of wine and enjoy being outside. It was definitely weird to not be wearing a jacket in November. We hung out, listened to some music and did a whole lot of nothing, which was perfect. Later on, my dad grilled some ribeyes and my mom roasted some vegetables, so my eating well in Phoenix obviously continued. In the morning, they convinced me to go to hot yoga with them, which I didn’t hate! After which, we came home and I immediately jumped in the pool, which wasn’t exactly warm, but the sun was out and I felt like I’d regret it if I didn’t get in the pool at least one more time. We met up with some of my parents’ friends for dinner later on, then came back home to hang out for a bit before I caught my redeye back to New York. Le sigh. I slept okay on the plane, then ran home and had a slice of pizza because that’s the only way you can say, “Hi honey, I’m home,” to New York.
I also made this apple pie when I got home, because it’s finally that time of year. I’ve seen Yossy Arefi make some straight up pie crust art on her website, Instagram and Food52, so that’s what inspired the pie I present to you today. It’s not nearly as beautiful as what she’s able to create, but I did my best. I cut out each leaf by hand, and to be honest, it’s wasn’t that much work. I even found it a little relaxing and therapeutic. All repetitive things can be that way at times, I think. Get creative if you can! But if that’s not your thing, a simple pie crust is just as delicious as a more artsy one. You could go the other way, and cut out shapes in your pies, too, like I did over the summer with my Blueberry & Blackberry Pie. The apple filling for this pie is simple, just like I like my apple pies to be. I won’t turn my nose up at an apple pie made with ginger or cardamom or toffee, believe me, but if I’m in charge, I will always pick a plain ol’ apple pie made with sugar, cinnamon and a little bit of lemon. That’s all you really need. In the past, I’d always diced my apples, so this time around I tried slicing them. I’m on the fence on what I prefer, but it really doesn’t matter which way you go about it, it’ll still be a deliciously classic apple pie. You need an apple pie this winter season. Your soul needs it! Don’t let spring come your way without baking at least one perfect apple pie. The smell of cinnamon and fresh apples will put you in the holiday spirit, even if you’re usually a little bit of a grinch, like me. Stay warm!
Murals, pizza, sushi and brownies.
Now, make your pie crust.
Use a food processor or your hands to bring your pie crust together.
Then, when you’re ready, roll out the dough.
Crimp the edges of your pie crust and set aside – using a spoon usually yields better results than the thumb method.
Next, toss together your apple ingredients.
Then add them to your pie.
You can get creative with the top layer, if you like. I opted for hand-cut leaves – I promise this isn’t as labor intensive as it seems. It’s almost kind of relaxing.
Brush the top of the pie with your egg wash, sprinkle with sugar and bake for 50-60 minutes.
Allow to cool a bit before slicing and serving.
- 3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, COLD (NOT room temperature), cut into pieces
- ¾ cup shortening, COLD (NOT room temperature), cut into pieces
- ⅔ cup ice water, plus more as needed
- 3 teaspoons distilled white vinegar or vodka
- 1 egg + 1 teaspoon water, beaten
- sanding or raw sugar, for decoration (optional)
- 4-5 large apples, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- juice of half a lemon
- Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in the chopped pieces of cold butter (cold is essential for a flaky pie crust), then the cold shortening. Blend together with your hands (or, alternatively, a food processor) until you have coarse crumbs (it doesn’t have to be perfect). You can use a pastry cutter, too, if you like.
- Place the dough back into the fridge for 15 minutes or so, so it stays cold. I don't always do this if I'm short on time, but if you can spare the minutes, it helps the dough a lot. Mix together the water and vinegar or vodka in a small bowl. When ready, slowly drizzle it over the dough, a tablespoon or so at a time, gently stirring the mixture with a fork or pulsing with your processor, until fully incorporated and the dough forms into a nice ball. You may not need all of the water. It might seem a bit too wet at this point, but it will dry up while it sits in the fridge.
- Form the dough gently into 2 loose balls, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours or as long as overnight (obviously, overnight is best - I sometimes let this dough sit for 36 hours). Be sure to let your dough sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before you start to roll it out.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Slice your apples and toss them with your sugar, flour, cornstarch, cinnamon, salt and lemon juice. Set aside.
- Generously flour a work surface, then roll out one ball of pie dough, large enough to fit inside of your pie dish. Cut off any excess dough, then use a small spoon to crimp the edges of the dough around the dish (see the photo above). Pour your apple filling into the prepared pie crust. Roll out your next ball of dough. Here, you can make decorative leaves like I did with a small paring knife (which doesn't take as much time or patience as you might think, but it is an extra step), or you can just roll out the crust and use a spoon to crimp it to the edges of the dish, sealing it with the bottom pie crust layer. It's really up to you.
- Brush the top layer with your combined beaten egg and water, then sprinkle with sanding or raw sugar, if you have it. Place the pie in the oven, then turn the temperature down to 375 degrees F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until the crust is golden and the apples are bubbling. Allow to cool on a cooling rack for at least 30-60 minutes before slicing and serving.