My mom’s husband (I hesitate to call him my step-dad because they were married after I was out of the house and married myself, after all) has a thing for apple pie. He talks about his late wife’s excellent apple pie and it is clear that those memories hold a special place in his heart. When you combine love, nostalgia, and sweets there’s almost no beating the memory you have of something you can’t ever taste again. There’s no point in even attempting to make the pie of his past.
So when you’re up against those kind of standards it is best just to turn the other way and make something completely new and different. Enter: apple cheddar pie.
I remember the first time I encountered this combination of cheddar and apples. During college I worked at the circulation desk in the library and I often shared shifts with this Greek boy, Morgan. He was an eccentric sort – decidedly intelligent but belligerently lazy. I would peer across our shared desk, jealous of his ability to live-and-let-live and be happy with a C in college classes. He adored the combination of cheddar and apples and remember him, once, talking incessantly about how delicious it was. I was skeptical but intrigued.
I didn’t try the combination but I started comparing it to my love of pineapple on pizza, the presence of grapes on cheese platters, and raisins in chicken salad. The combination makes sense. But should it pass as dessert?
It should pass as an any-time-of-day treat. This crust was amazing. AMAZING. So cheddary. So flaky. Easy to work with. The Omnivore, who was very skeptical of this treat, adored the recipe as well. The filling was perfectly consistent – not runny and gooey. It was a tad lemony from the addition of both lemon zest and lemon juice so next time I’d omit the zest.
Cheddar Crusted Apple Pie (adapted from Food Network)
- For the Crust
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cups packed grated sharp Cheddar (about 6 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons ice water, or more as needed
- For the filling
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2.25 pounds granny smith apples (about 5 large apples), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- juice of 1 lemon
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 beaten egg, for brushing
- For the crust: In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, cold butter and grated cheese. Pulse the processor until the mixture resembles fine sand.
- Stream the ice water to the mixture. Run the processor just until the mixture rolls itself into a little ball. If the mixture is a bit dry, add more ice water by the tablespoonful until it comes together. Gather the dough into a ball.
- Divide the dough evenly in half.
- Shape each half into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
- For the filling: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and sugar, making sure there are no lumps in the cornstarch. Mix in the apples slices, lemon juice and pinch of salt. Toss to coat the apples completely in the mixture.
- After the dough has chilled, lightly flour the work surface and roll 1 of the dough disks into a 13-inch round. Carefully place the dough round to a 9-inch diameter pie dish. Brush the overhang with water. Pour the apple filling into the dough-lined dish.
- For the top crust, roll out the second dough disk on the same lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough into a 12-inch round, slightly smaller than the bottom crust. Carefully place the dough over the mound of apples. Press the overhang of the bottom and top dough pieces together to seal. Cut the excess dough to 1/2 inch and fold under. Crimp the dough under and pinch together. Cut 3 (2-inch) slits in the top of the crust to allow steam to escape.
- Bake the pie until golden brown, about 30 minutes. If the edge of the crust browns too quickly, place an edge guard or craft your own out of aluminum foil and place on the pie edge. Remove the pie from the oven and cool the pie on a rack for 1 hour.
I made the recipe, tasted a crumb, declared it a success, and went bounding to find my husband. I just KNEW he would be in love with this recipe and totally fooled when it came to the ingredients. I, of course, would never divulge the ingredients.
You know when you’ve planned a bit surprise and you can just barely keep it in? You’re all giggly and jumpy. That’s how I was. And he knew something was up. And he knew it has something to do with the brownie I was practically shoving down his throat.
As a result of me totally blowing the delivery I ended up with a wonderful batch of homemade brownies all for myself.
Brownies that were laced with black beans, avocados, cashews and studded with chocolate chips. Damn good brownies, regardless of the high fiber content.
Oh people will say: “If I’m going to spend calories on a brownie, it is going to be a BROWNIE and not some legume filled impostor.”
Those people might be beyond converting. People like me, though, who are curious and don’t mind experimentation, eating healthfully whenever possible, and expanding culinary boundaries will love this gluten free brownie recipe. More protein packed and more filling than the average brownie, you won’t even think about the sugary, floury alternative.
Black Bean Avocado Brownies (Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles, who adapted a recipe from multiple sources)
- 1/2 cup salted, roasted cashews
- ½ cup (3.5 ounces) sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon table salt
- 1 (15-ounce black) beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 ounces avocado flesh (about ½ an avocado)
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 large eggs
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with vegetable oil spray.
- Process the cashews, sugar, and salt in a food processor until the almonds are finely ground, about 2 minutes.
- Add the beans and avocado; process until the beans are smoothly pureed, 4-5 minutes.
- Add the salt, chocolate powder, vanilla, baking powder, and hot water to the bean mixture and process to combine fully.
- Add the eggs; process for 30 seconds, stopping twice to scrape the sides of the bowl. Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool completely before enjoying.
I remember when I was first getting into cooking, I was obsessed with the thought of getting a food processor. The Omnivore would be on his way to Lowe’s and I’d go along for the trip to the home improvement store for the sole reason of looking at food processors.
I’d bookmark recipes that I thought could only be made with a food processor (which obviously isn’t true as amazing things have been made for centuries without food processors) and then talk incessantly about them.
This recipe is one that I’d file under “food processor” and if you are on the fence about making the purchase, this should send you over the edge. I’ve made broccoli pesto before but this one definitely has a different spin. It is more chunky than saucy and more complex and varied. I used chick peas for bulk and protein but I don’t see why a cup or so of shredded chicken or even cooked shrimp couldn’t work.
note: I enjoy the sharp taste of raw garlic. If you do not, saute it briefly to mellow it. The avocado is not a noticeable taste but adds a nice silkiness. If you don’t have one on hand, feel free to omit and replace with additional water as needed.
- 1 lb broccoli crowns (about 2 large)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 avocado
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup water (reserved from boiling florets)
- 2 cups chick peas
- 4 ounces goat cheese
- 16 ounces pasta, cooked according to directions
- Boil or steam broccoli until tender, about 4 minutes, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water.
- In a food processor, combine strained broccoli, garlic, salt, lemon juice, avocado.
- Stream reserved water into food processor until you reach your desired consistency. Taste for salt.
- Combine pasta with broccoli pesto and chick peas in a large bowl.
- Serve, dotting plates with goat cheese.