A red barn, a 1940 Farmall H Tractor and an heirloom apple orchard are just a few of the amenities that make Thanksgiving special at the Towanda, Pa., farmhouse home (circa 1916) of Jim and Donna Conforti, my brother and sister-in-law. From Harry's trees (named for the man who planted the trees on the property "long ago"), come heirloom Idared and Granny Smith apples, used for making Apple, Sausage and Cheese Strata, bottom left, and All-American Apple Pie, bottom right. (Photo credits: Top and bottom, center, Jim Conforti)

A red barn, a 1940 Farmall H Tractor and an heirloom apple orchard are just a few of the amenities that make Thanksgiving special at the Towanda, Pa., farmhouse home (circa 1916) of Jim and Donna Conforti, my brother and sister-in-law. From Harry's trees (named for the man who planted the trees on the property "long ago"), come heirloom Idared and Granny Smith apples, used for making Apple, Sausage and Cheese Strata, bottom left, and All-American Apple Pie, bottom right. (Photo credits: Top and bottom, center, Jim Conforti)

The Kitchen Ade: Blessings on Thanksgiving

  • Tuesday, November 24, 2015 3:06pm
  • LifeFood

When my brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Donna Conforti, gifted me with over ten pounds of heirloom Granny Smith and Idared apples, picked fresh from the trees on their Towanda, Pa., property, I was in apple baking heaven. Between their tart/sweet flavor and their ability to keep their shape during cooking, the apples would be ideal for making a pie, or even a breakfast strata.

Incredibly versatile, with nearly 100 varieties grown commercially in the United States, some apples are better suited than others for a particular purpose. Red Delicious apples, for instance, are perfect for eating out of hand, but not much else. McIntosh apples, outstanding for snacking or making applesauce, are too soft for making dumplings, and Gala apples, though terrific in salads, becomes rubbery when baked. But, for pies and other baking applications, apples like Granny Smith, Idared and Golden Delicious excel.

Because of their crisp texture, these apples can also be precooked before placing in a pie shell, a method that not only concentrates the apple’s flavor, but also helps to minimize the dreaded gap that sometimes occurs beneath the top crust of your pie and the filling – something that happens due to the shrinkage of raw apples when they are cooked.

It’s not too late to bake a fresh apple pie for Thanksgiving, or to put together a strata for Thanksgiving Day breakfast, but if you run out of time, don’t worry. An apple a day, on any day, tastes just as sweet.

 

Sue Ade is a syndicated food columnist with broad experience and interests in the culinary arts. She has resided and worked in the lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at kitchenade@yahoo.com.

Precooking apples for your pie before baking not only concentrates the flavor of the apples, but also helps to minimize the gap that sometimes forms beneath the top crust and the pie's filling due to the shrinkage of raw apples during cooking.

Precooking apples for your pie before baking not only concentrates the flavor of the apples, but also helps to minimize the gap that sometimes forms beneath the top crust and the pie’s filling due to the shrinkage of raw apples during cooking.

Crisp, tart Granny Smith apples are the surprise ingredient in this tasty breakfast strata. Plan ahead, though. The strata requires an overnight stay in the refrigerator before baking the next day. Serve strata spooned directly from the casserole, or cut into pie-shaped wedges.

Crisp, tart Granny Smith apples are the surprise ingredient in this tasty breakfast strata. Plan ahead, though. The strata requires an overnight stay in the refrigerator before baking the next day. Serve strata spooned directly from the casserole, or cut into pie-shaped wedges.

Besides premium ingredients, such as Perfect Pastry Flour Blend, Apple Pie Spice, Vietnamese Cinnamon and Sparkling White Sanding Sugar, King Arthur flour can also supply  kitchen tools to assist you with all your pie-making tasks. Among the must-have items are wire dough/pastry blenders, mechanized apple peeler-corer-slicers, silicone pie crust shields, as well as French rolling pins and nonstick baking mats. Find these baking essentials and so much more, at www.kingarthurflour.com, or by calling 800-827-6836.

Besides premium ingredients, such as Perfect Pastry Flour Blend, Apple Pie Spice, Vietnamese Cinnamon and Sparkling White Sanding Sugar, King Arthur flour can also supply kitchen tools to assist you with all your pie-making tasks. Among the must-have items are wire dough/pastry blenders, mechanized apple peeler-corer-slicers, silicone pie crust shields, as well as French rolling pins and nonstick baking mats. Find these baking essentials and so much more, at www.kingarthurflour.com, or by calling 800-827-6836.

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