Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fresh Apple Pie

I recently made this pie for our yacht club Thanksgiving feast.  One of our members is a diabetic so I made it sugar free but it's easily adaptable either way.  This one is also for a two-crust pie, but you can make a French apple pie as well using a crumb topping instead of the top crust.  As I described in a previous post, I fold a long piece of aluminum foil in half lengthwise twice to make a strip about 2-3" wide.  I then wrap this around the pie and fold the ends together to make a crust shield.  I crimp it together on the top edge a little so that the fluted edges of the crust are hidden.  If they don't brown you can take the foil off the last 5 minutes or so to brown them.  The secrets to good pie crust is double-sifting the flour, making sure to cut the shortening in until it's the consistency of cornmeal, using ice water, and not over-working the dough.

Fresh Apple Pie


2-2/3 c. flour - sift bulk flour first, measure the flour and sift again into the bowl
1 tsp salt
1 c. butter flavor shortening
1/2 c. ice water

Sift flour, measure, then sift into bowl with salt.  Add shortening and cut into flour mixture until the consistence of coarse cornmeal.  Toss in ice water and work with fork until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl.  Note:  in very humid weather you may not need all the water, and conversely when it's dry you may need a little more.  Divide ball into 2 and set aside, covered with plastic wrap.


5-6 Large tart apples
Juice of one lemon, fresh squeezed
6 TBL flour
1 tsp cinnamon
dash salt
13 oz jar of Polaner all fruit spread in either peach or apricot flavor

Peel 5-6 large apples, preferably Jonathan or Granny Smith or some other tart apple.  Quarter, core, then slice into 1/8 slices into large bowl. Sprinkle apple slices with the juice of one lemon.  Add 6 TBL flour, 1 rounded tsp cinnamon, dash of salt and one 13oz jar of Polaner all fruit in either peach or apricot flavor.  Any other brand of jam will do, and you can use sugar free as well.  The pie in the picture was sugar free for a diabetic friend of mine.  Stir well and let sit while you roll the crust.

Roll crust out to inch and a half larger than inverted pie plate.  Carefully transfer to plate and trim edges to 1" even all around.  Roll second ball into circle about 1" larger than inverted plate.  Fill crust with apple mixture and place dough circle on top.  Press edges together, roll edge toward center of pie and crimp with fingers or end of wooden spoon.  Roll out scraps and cut apple and leaf shapes.  Wet with small amount of water and place on pie.  Using a soft paintbrush, paint food coloring on shapes.  I use the back edge of a table knife to make the leaf veins before painting.  With a sharp knife, place a couple vent slits in the top.  Bake 425° for 50-75 minutes (depends on how hot your oven is).  In addition to the edge shield you may need to cover the top loosely with a piece of foil if it browns too quickly.

Monday, November 28, 2011


One of our main ideas about cruising is to attempt to be energy self-sufficient.  As a result, we generally make coffee in our on-the-stove drip coffee maker rather than an electric pot, and we don't have a toaster on the boat.  I've tried various camping toast apparatus without any culinary satisfaction and after many different attempts at the perfect piece of toast I came back to the K.I.S.S. principle - I'm now doing toast in a skillet, dry.

For my stove, I set the heat fairly low and put the bread in the pan with no butter or anything.  I have to move them around and flip them every few minutes so they toast evenly because my burners are all very small, but I end up with perfectly toasted bread.  I'm using a non-stick skillet that is the lid of a very old Coleman camping nested pot set.  I keep trying to talk myself into spending $150 on a set of nested stainless, but the fact is, I've been using this pot set since I was married (it was a wedding gift), it works well, it has all the pots I need in it, it fits perfectly in my pot and pan storage bin, and it didn't cost any money.  So for the time being you'll just have to put up with dinged and dented pots in my recipe pictures because they're not going anywhere soon.  Coming soon will be my perfect ham and cheese omelet recipe.  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oven Basics

The oven we have on our 1982 Tartan 42 is a  Hillerange 3 burner propane stove with a broiler in the oven.  It has a metal tray on the bottom of the oven above the broiler with slots along the sides for the air to move upwards into the oven.  The first problem I had with trying to bake anything in the Hillerange was that the heat was horribly uneven.  Things would burn on the bottom and not be done on top.  The first step to working around this was a trip to our local flooring store where I purchased some unglazed terra cotta tile (lead-free of course) which I placed directly on the metal tray above the burner where they absorb the heat and help to distribute it more evenly.  They also make a terrific place to cook pizza and some breads that require direct heat. For things like cookies, I put a double layer of aluminum foil, shiny side down, on a cookie sheet and then a piece of parchment paper to put the cookies on. I put the cookie sheet directly on the stones for the first 8 minutes and then move them to the top rack for the last 2-4 minutes.  This seems to work well in lieu of an airbake pan, which I can't find in a small enough size to fit.  It also makes it easy to slide the whole sheet of parchment onto the cooling rack and the new sheet onto the cookie sheet.

 (And yes, the oven is dirty.  It was well-used this season)

When I bake pies, I fold a long piece of aluminum foil in half lengthwise twice, then run that strip around the circumference of the pie and fold the ends together.  The strip should be a little taller than the pie which allows you to fold the top edge inward a little to almost completely cover the crimped edge of the pie.  I put the pie on a rack pretty close to the ceiling of the oven, and then I cover the top loosely with a flat piece of foil. 

Broiling is still a bit of a challenge for me yet.  The broiler isn't very hot, so it's difficult to get foods broiled, juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside.  They sometimes tend to get a baked consistency instead because it takes so long.  I'm thinking about maybe trying to sear the meat in a skillet first an then broiling it.

We don't have a stern rail barbeque on Kintala.  We gave ours up when we still owned Nomad because there just wasn't any room on the stern rail, and Kintala is probably even more space-challenged on the stern rail than Nomad was.  What we did instead was to purchase a cast iron grilling skillet like this one:


It's a 10-1/2 " very heavy pan that you preheat on high with the lid on it (the lid also has the ridges) and then spray the pan with spray non-stick coating and put your meat on and put the lid on top.  The meat cooks quickly because of the preheated lid.  You still turn it half way through but it requires less time and it turns out just as well as the grill and a whole lot easier.  It also makes delicious bacon with the lid as a press, and wonderful paninis and french toast.  It is an extremely heavy pan but it still weighs in less than a conventional gas stern rail grill and doesn't require any extra propane tanks or the worry of storing them.  As a side note on propane, I cook on the boat at least 2 meals a day every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and sometimes Thursday or Monday if it's a long weekend for us, and we used only one 10# propane tank from the middle of June to the middle of November.  This included many long bakes of pies and bread and cookies.  I try always to maximize the propane usage by only boiling the exact amount of water needed to make coffee or tea, and to keep bacon warm by putting it on top of a rack on top of the eggs while they cook etc.