Even though every magazine in our house is featuring decadent spreads of Thanksgiving bounties, we are still living in the moment of the upcoming Halloween feast! Every year we drool over some of them amazingly creepy serving dishes and tabletop gear that hits store shelves, but usually refrain from indulging. Williams-Sonoma has some hard to resist, tastefully gothic diningwware this season — from black ceramic skull mugs that Dr. Lector would love to an apron fit for an Osteologist. We’re especially charmed by these bone cocktail picks, which will make any egg on a tray taste devilish. Best of all it’s all marked down now, 20% less. Order fast to enjoy by the 31st!
Apple pie is one of those things I never thought I would make myself. It seemed like something that would require a great deal of skill and patience, not to mention equipment — none of which I have! But then a couple of years ago I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s Apple Pie recipe. It’s one of his “top ten” favourites in this book Jamie’s Dinners. I don’t know if it was the lovely photo or the casual way the recipe was written, but it seemed like something I could handle with my limited baking skills — and it was! I have since made it three or four times. The secret to the recipe is lemon rind — added to both the crust and apples, which you saute on the stove for a bit with brown sugar and cranberries. Also, because it is “rustic” style, the crust doesn’t have to be perfect. Just patch up those holes.
What You Need
for the pastry
2 cups of flour
10 tbs butter
1 lemon rind grated
• 2 egg yolks
2/12 tbs sugar
for The filling
1 large Bramley cooking apple
4 eating apples
3 tbs brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
a handful raisins
1/2 lemon’s zest
1 egg yolk with splash of milk.
How To Make.
1. Preheat the oven 300.
2. Make the pastry in a food processor by mixing up the flour, sugar, a pinch of salt, lemon zest and the butter into cubes. Add egg yolk and tiny splash of water. Mix until it resembles bread crumbs. Then use your hands to mix together into a dough.
3. Divide your pastry in half. Roll out half onto a flour dusted surface until it’s about a 1/4 inch thick. If it tears, just patch it up. Lay the pastry into a butter metal pie pan.
4. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and put both in the fridge for a while.
Make the Filling:
1. Quarter and peel the apples and cut them into small slices.
2. Add them to a pan with sugar, lemon zest and raisins. Add a tbs spoon of water.
3. Simmer for about 5 minutes until apples are just tender.
4. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Finish the pie:
1. Take the pan and dough out of the fridge.
2. Pour the cooled down apple filling into the pan.
3. Roll out the remaining half of the dough and place on top of the filling.
4. Brush the top of the pie with egg and milk wash, then using a small sharp knife, make a couple of small incisions in the center.
5. Bank for 45 minutes or so.
6. Serve hot with ice cream!
As tempting as it may be, we don’t put up any Halloween decorations before October 1st, otherwise our home is likely to become a spooktacular playground before school even starts. Fall is just the best time of year when it comes to seasonal decorating.
To things started this year, we’re going to buy a few dried out gourds and attempt this easy D.I.Y. from Inspired by Charm. Turns out that you can buy dried gourds for next to nothing: Curious Country Creations sells ten for $10. While Michael at Inspired by Charm opted for a multi-hued gourds, I think we may go the metallic route (like you can see on Dream on a Little Bigger) and create something we can sprinkle on the mantle or dining room table until Thanksgiving. All you need is spray paint and some imagination.
Or, perhaps we’ll turn one or two into a spooky lantern, like the ones from Meadowbrook Gourds.
Got any other gourd decorating ideas? Let us know.
If the dad in your house is anything like the dad in our house, he might spend a lot of time watching survivor shows and thinking about gizmos and tools that will help us survive Armageddon. It’s like the natural cave-dweller’s hobby evolution. Well, if your alpha male doesn’t sleep well unless there’s some cold beer in the fridge, this gift idea may be the best thing since riding lawn mowers. Introducing ECool, an in-ground beer cooler that will hold up to 24 cans of beer and chill them without electricity — in your own backyard! Best installed with a garden drill (last year’s gift, perhaps?) but a shovel will do, ECool is contained in a hole in the ground, where your beer will be earth-cooled. Not only is it eco-smart, it will help save space in the fridge and create a feeling of security when the hurricane is blowing offshore. Made in Denmark, ECool costs $349. And while it probably won’t arrive before Sunday, it will arrive in time to enjoy all summer long.
If you’re not quite ready to invest in such depths in beer storage, consider another great Father’s Day gift, Craft Beer of the Month Club.