Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Traditional British Food, Part 9: Easier Than Pie

Blackberry-and-Apple Pie is easier than pie because it's actually a cobbler. Because it lacks a bottom crust, I had a lot less work to do (no extra rolling, fitting to the pan, or the dreaded blind baking). Adrian Bailey tells us, "Like all English fruit pies, blackberry-and-apple has no pastry bottom and is very moist; it is eaten with a dessert spoon rather than a fork."*

Serves 8
1 pound Granny Smith apples (or other tart cooking apple), peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch slices
1/2 cup sugar, divided (see method)
2 tablespoons butter
1 pint blackberries, washed and drained
Short crust pastry**

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over low heat then add the apples and 3 tablespoons of the sugar. Toss to coat and warm for about 5 minutes then take off the heat to cool.

Place the blackberries in an even layer on the bottom of a pie plate (I used the 9-1/2" Pyrex pie plate). Sprinkle with 1/4 cup sugar then top with the apples. Set aside.

Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8" thick and a rough circle. Cut two strips (12" long and 1/2" wide) from the outer edge of the dough, moisten the edge of the pie plate with cold water and press the strips of dough around the edge. Moisten the top of the strips, lay the rest of the dough over and press in place. Trim pastry so overhang is only 1/2" beyond the pie plate then roll the edges under and press down with the tines of a fork to secure the pastry on top of the pie plate. Cut three 1-inch long slits about half an inch apart in the center of the pie (see photo below).

Brush the top of the pie with cold water and sprinkle remaining tablespoon of sugar over the pie. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake in the center of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

(Adapted from Recipes: The Cooking of the British Isles by Adrian Bailey)

It was 92 degrees Sunday. Generally, I loathe hot weather, but it brings one consolation: the return of gin to our refrigerator. The colder months are the time for whiskies, ports, and cognacs, but summertime is gin & tonic time. The G&T has to be the best thing to come out of the British colonization of India. G&Ts are my absolute favorite cocktail, but there is a close second--the White Lady. Named for supernatural apparitions (it does glow), the White Lady cocktail was invented in London at either Ciro's or the Savoy some time in the 1920s and was a favorite drink of both Laurel and Hardy. (I've committed the cardinal sin of relying of Wikipedia for this information. If anyone has any legitimate facts on the origin of this drink, let me know.)

Serves 2
2 jiggers gin (I use Tanqueray)
1 jigger orange liqueur (Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
1 jigger lemon juice (fresh squeezed)

Fill cocktail shaker with ice, add ingredients and shake until chilled. Pour into two chilled (small) cocktail glasses or champagne coupes. You don't have to use the brands I've suggested, but I am going to be insistent about the quality of the components. Cheap gin or triple sec (or, God forbid, both) would be like expecting to see a funny movie and having to watch one starring Will Ferrell instead.

Speaking of movies, in the film version of Have His Carcase (that's "carcass" to you and me) Lord Peter Wimsey sits down to enjoy a White Lady cocktail prepared by his loyal butler, Bunter, before rushing out to assist Harriet Vane, who has discovered a corpse on the beach. I was watching this movie while knitting (very pleasant knitting movie it is, too) and decided to get some Cointreau. Anyhow, all three Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries, which are based on the books Strong Poison, Have His Carcase, and Gaudy Night, are enjoyable to watch, even the second time after I already know whodunit.

Another enjoyable interwar British mystery novel is Margery Allingham's Look to the Lady (originally published here as The Gyrth Chalice Mystery). I finished it last week and then watched the movie version from Netflix, also while knitting.

Hopefully, I'll have more to show of my knitting soon. I'm about four inches into the front of the sweater now. I have to finish because there are so many other sweaters to knit!

*Recipes: The Cooking of the British Isles, p.78
** I use the Martha Stewart pate brisee recipe (available here), which makes 2 crusts, you'll only need one for this recipe. I happened to have one in the freezer, which is really convenient.

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