October 5, 2013

Einkorn Apple Pie, Heide's Taco Soup, Leftover Apple Skins

It's October, the perfect time for harvest foods.  I invited my friends Peg and AnnMarie over for Heide's Taco Soup; Heide is my sister.  Somewhere along the way I was gifted with a pie-making lesson from  Peg who knows pie and has rolled out a few crusts in her time.   I have only ever made gluten-free pies up until now and was a little intimidated about rolling out my first wheat crust with my heirloom, non-hybridized Einkorn wheat flour.  Let's be honest, one of the reasons modern wheat has been hybridized has been to make it easier to work with in the kitchen.  But I wouldn't be alone, I'd have a seasoned pie veteran by my side.

Peg and AnnMarie provided local Bellewood Acres Jonagolds.  Peg bases her pie crust on Pie It Forward author Gesine Bullock-Prado's All-Butter Easy Pie Dough.  Of course like all experienced bakers, she alters the recipe based on feel and takes into consideration the weather, the wheat, and what will go into the pie.  That was exactly the type of expertise I was looking for.

For the apples, Peg favors America's Test Kitchen Baking Illustrated recipe for Classic Apple Pie:  cinnamon, allspice, freshly grated nutmeg, lemon zest and juice and a touch of salt and of course some flour, Einkorn.

Peg taught me tricks like using frozen butter which I had just heard from another baker, am I the only baker who didn't know to do this? and placing frozen slices of butter into the flour in the food processer.  A few short pulses do it.  If there are a few larger pieces later, she just cuts them down to size by hand with a pairing knife.  Then after rolling it out and placing it in the pie pan, placing the whole thing into the freezer.  Cool.

Keeping the butter cold and in chunky pockets is critical to creating a flakey crust in the oven.  I knew there was magic in not activating the gluten, but fully understanding the role of the butter pockets was new for me.  Where have I been?

The Einkorn wheat seemed to handle just fine and my friends could smell the sweet wheaty scent of the ancient grain.  The color too, is noticeably different.  Not quite yellow, a deeper wheat color really.

We placed the seasoned apple slices into the pie pan on top of the dough and broke a few of them to make them fit snuggly.

We rolled out and placed the second half of the dough over the top, see the butter pockets?  We cut large and plentiful vents, and placed the cutouts on top of the pie as embellishments.  Cute.

By this time, another friend, Nancy, joined us and while the pie baked, we ate Heide's Taco Soup, a recipe from my sister who lives almost as close to the Southern border as I do to the Northern border.

Heide's Taco Soup

1 lb. ground meat (beef, turkey, etc.), browned (I used ground grass-fed beef from Farmer Ben's)
1 bunch spring onions (or minced yellow or white onion)
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can kernel corn or hominy, drained (or frozen non-GMO hominy I found at Albertsons)
1 can green chilies, mild, diced (4 oz)
Taco seasoning or make your own from the Southwest Rub below

note:  use same size can for each bean

Brown the meat and sauté the onion, if using white or yellow.  Mix all the ingredients in a slow cooker.  Allow to heat through and spices to marry.  

Gina's note: I added a quart of chicken broth and slow cooked for 4 hours because my hominy was uncooked and needed the extra moisture and time to cook.  Heide does not add moisture and serves it more like a chili which I love love love.  Try it either way.

Serve with tortilla chips, diced tomato, chopped spring onion, sour cream, shredded cheese and anything else you wish.

Southwest Rub batch (use one Tablespoon at a time from this batch, not the whole batch)

2 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. ground coriander seed (I used powder)
2 Tbsp. ground cumin seed (I used powder)
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. ground cayenne pepper (red pepper)
Gina's note: use one Tablespoon at a time from this batch, not the whole batch.  I used the whole batch the first time I made this and it was not edible.  My mistake, thus this note.  It took me over a year to try it again.  The other night, it was the perfect, satisfying meal creating requests for the recipe.  Thanks, sis.

Everyone dressed their soup their own way . . .

from choices of Terre Verde Garden tomatoes, dripped Grace Harbor Farms yogurt, (by the way, Grace Harbor Farms is converting to all grass-fed cows, yay!) coastal cheddar cheese (UKs coast, not ours but so delicious) and garlic chives from my herb garden - very local and organic.  This soup is warming and the hominy gives it a nice chewy texture.  It truly is more like a chili. Delicious.

Among my guests was my canine hiking pal and good friend, Ebony.  She was happy on the floor with a frozen Kong filled with some yummies.

The pie finished at about the same time we did, but then it had to cool.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock . . . how long do we have to wait?

Look at how flakey that Einkorn crust turned out . . .

Tick Tock, Tick Tock . . .

we pulled out a couple of games, I put a few dishes away, boiled water for tea and french press coffee, got the dessert china out because they have matching coffee cups and saucers and still . . . 

we had to wait.  I set the timer for the minimum wait time - 35 minutes and finally we broke into this gorgeous Einkorn Wheat Jonagold Apple Pie.  It was heaven, flakey crust with a buttery undertone and a sweet wheat scent and flavor.  It's no wonder why American's relate to this as an icon of our culture.  It is delicious, a bit of work but we're not afraid of work, and easy as pie if you know a few tricks.  

Many thanks to my good friend Peg for her pie coaching.  I am now initiated into the wheat crust pie makers - a happy group indeed.

Then, what to do with the tasty red apple skins?  I could not throw them into the compost pile.  I saved them for the next day.

I had a few baby Brussels sprouts from Lunaria Farm, fresh ginger from Terra Verde Garden and chopped it all up and sauteed in bacon fat and butter - I know - it was cold out and I was hungry, besides, in moderation bacon fat is good for you.  The bacon was local from the new butcher in Bellingham, CARNE, on State Street.  They can tell you the origins of all of their meats.

Lovely.  This is eating from many color groups, and I added my leftover organic hominy (in the frozen section at Albertsons).

Happy Eating in the Pacific Northwest