Recently I purchased a number of items that have made it easier to me to prepare classic French foods in my kitchen.
Among them is an Aquatronic Kitchen Scale from Salter, which I purchased at cooking.com. Having a scale allows me to work with recipes from bloggers in France, who often use metric measurements.
I debuted the scale by making a wonderful pate brisée or pie crust recipe from Lucy’s Kitchen Notebook (Jan. 18, 2006), a good place to go for lovely photos, elegant French recipes and thoughtful writing.
Ooh la la! This crust is a joy to work with — it feels light in your hands and smells rich and sweet. I used the freshest ingredients I could find.
My mother was invited for dinner that day, and my husband offered to make Beef Stroganoff. I was looking for something sweet and autumnal for dessert — something that would hold up when paired with a rich French-roast coffee.
I settled on apples, raisins and cranberries. To my dismay, I found all I had in the line of apples were three very large Pink Lady apples (which I prefer to eat fresh). I cut them into small chunks, adding a drizzle of lemon juice, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of cloves.
Here is the apple filling recipe:
• three large or five small baking apples, unpeeled and cut into small chunks.
• ¼ cup raisins
• ¼ cup dried cranberries
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• ½ cup sugar
• ½ teaspoon cinnamon
• pinch ground cloves
Mix apples and dried fruit in large bowl. Add lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and spices. Blend well to ensure the fruit is well coated. Place in pre-made crust.
I baked the pie in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes. Midway through the baking process I added a flour, oatmeal, walnut, sugar and butter topping, using the same method I used in my plum and apple crisp recipes.
The result was a sweet and tangy filling in what I consider a perfect crust. There’s a bit of salt in the crust that pairs well with the filling. But as Lucy points out, you can use the crust with a savory filling as well and I am going to try that next.
On a scale of one to 10, this pate brisée is most certainly a 10.