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July 4th, 2006

I started this Wacky Culinary Patriotic Trip Across the USA., or, the WCTUS, on April 24th. I started at the last State that was admitted to the Union and that was Hawaii. Today, we having a picnic on the lawn of the White House. We're having hot dogs, potato salad and beer. And to top it all off as well as the trip around the good ol' USA, we're chowing down on some All-American Apple Pie!

Ziggy and I would like to thank each and everyone of you for your patience. It's not always easy getting an e-mail everyday and finding the time to read it when you have so many other things to do. Thank you.

To the Members of the Kitchen Club, I am working on something big I'll tell ya. BIG! I am taking down all the archives of this trip where they usually are and they are all going into a special section with plenty of surprises. So, if you missed a few, you can go there anytime during the years to come. I will be sending out a special Ezine for Members when it is through. It should be by the end of this week. Oh... I can't wait!

Now, before we get to the last recipe and story, here's a few links for you to check out... when you have the time.

You can see the Declaration, Bill of Rights and a whole lot more here at:
The National Archives.
http://www.archives.gov/national-archives-experience/

History of the American Flag
http://www.usa-flag-site.org/history.shtml

This is a link to a Citizenship Test sent to me from John H. It's fun. Check out your knowledge of our country. See how you do!
www.toast.net/games/Independence/page1.asp

I am off for two weeks now after this ezine. For The Kitchen Club Members, we return on July 17th with a new and improved ezine. For Non-Members, see ya on July 21st.


The Stars and Stripe Forever

Day 51 - Washington, D.C.
4th of July

We followed the yellow-brick road all the way to Washington, DC. Many times along the road, I found myself many times without a brain, a heart or sometimes, the courage to go on. But like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I just clicked my heals and here we are. Me and my buddy Ziggy!

Here we are with our little picnic basket loaded with hot dogs, potato salad, beer and an All-American Apple Pie. Woo hoo! We have a good seat to listen to music and enjoy the fireworks. Ziggy has slipped into her last hat and it's very cool!

President George Bush came over, took one look at Ziggy and said, "My, that's a cute looking doggie you have there." Go figure. Without missing a beat, Ziggy barked and bit him.

It was just before the fireworks, we pulled out the apple pie and went to town. Here's the recipe!

Pie does not get better than this. Reducing and concentrating the juices of the apples make it necessary to use only about half the usual amount of thickener, resulting in a more pure apple flavor, a juicy filling, and a crisp bottom crust.


The Best All-American Apple Pie
Serves 8

For the crust:

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
2 cups + 3 tablespoons pastry flour or 2 cups bleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 3-ounce packages (4.5 ounces) cream cheese, cold
2 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon cider vinegar

For the filling:

2-1/2 pounds baking apples (about 6 medium), peeled, cored and sliced 1/4-inch inch thick
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cornstarch

For the crust:

Food processor method:

Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and freeze it until frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a reclosable gallon-size freezer bag and freeze for at least 30 minutes.

Place the flour mixture in a food processor with the metal blade and process for a few seconds to combine. Set the bag aside.

Cut the cream cheese into 3 or 4 pieces and add it to the flour. Process for about 20 seconds or until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the frozen butter cubes and pulse until none of the butter is larger than the size of a pea. (Toss with a fork to see it better.) Remove the cover and add the water and vinegar. Pulse until most of the butter is reduced to the size of small peas. The mixture will be in particles and will not hold together. Divide the mixture in half and spoon each half into a plastic bag.

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled. Repeat with the second bag.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into discs, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. (For a pie shell and lattice, divide it in a ratio of two thirds: one third — use about 9.5 ounces for the shell and the rest for the lattice, flattening the smaller part into a rectangle.)

Hand method:

Place a medium mixing bowl in the freezer to chill.

Cut the butter into small (about 3/4-inch) cubes. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Place the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add the cream cheese and rub the mixture between your fingers to blend the cream cheese into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Spoon the mixture, together with the cold butter, into a reclosable gallon-size freezer-bag. Expel any air from the bag and close it. Use a rolling pin to flatten the butter into thin flakes. Place the bag in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or until the butter is very firm.

Transfer the mixture to the chilled bowl, scraping the sides of the bag. Set the bag aside. Sprinkle the mixture with the water and vinegar, tossing lightly with a rubber spatula. Divide the mixture in half and spoon each half into a plastic bag.

Holding both ends of the bag opening with your fingers, knead the mixture by alternately pressing it, from the outside of the bag, with the knuckles and heels of your hands until the mixture holds together in one piece and feels slightly stretchy when pulled. Repeat the process with the second half.

Wrap the dough with plastic wrap, flatten it into a discs, and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes, preferably overnight. (For a pie shell and lattice, divide it in a ratio of two thirds: one third — use about 9.5 ounces for the shell and the rest for the lattice, flattening the smaller part into a rectangle.)

For the pie:

Remove the dough for the bottom crust from the refrigerator. If necessary, allow it to sit for about 10 minutes or until it is soft enough to roll.

On a floured pastry cloth or between two sheets of lightly floured plastic wrap, roll the bottom crust 1/8 inch thick or less and 12 inches in diameter. Transfer it to the pie pan. Trim the edge almost even with the edge of the pan. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for a minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.

In a large bowl, combine the apples, lemon juice, sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and toss to mix. Allow the apples to macerate at room temperature for minimum of 30 minutes and a maximum of 3 hours.

Transfer the apples and their juices to a colander suspended over a bowl to capture the liquid. The mixture will release at least 1/2 cup of liquid.

In a small saucepan (preferably lined with a nonstick surface), over medium-high heat, boil down this liquid, with the butter, to about 1/3 cup (a little more if you started with more than 1/2 cup of liquid), or until syrupy and lightly caramelized. Swirl the liquid but do not stir it. (Alternatively, spray a 4-cup heatproof measure with nonstick vegetable spray, add the liquid and butter, and boil it in the microwave, 6 to 7 minutes on high.) Meanwhile, transfer the apples to a bowl and toss them with the cornstarch until all traces of it have disappeared.

Pour the syrup over the apples, tossing gently. (Do not be concerned if the liquid hardens on contact with the apples; it will dissolve during baking.)

Roll out the top crust large enough to cut a 12-inch circle. Use an expandable flan ring or a cardboard template and a sharp knife as a guide to cut the circle.

Transfer the apple mixture to the pie shell. Moisten the border of the bottom crust by brushing it lightly with water and place the top crust over the fruit. Tuck the overhang under the bottom crust border and press down all around the top to seal it. Crimp the border using a fork or your fingers and make about 5 evenly spaced 2-inch slashes starting about 1 inch from the center and radiating toward the edge. Cover the pie loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 1 hour before baking to chill and relax the pastry. This will maintain flakiness and help to keep the crust from shrinking.

Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C) at least 20 minutes before baking. Set an oven rack at the lowest level any place a baking stone or baking sheet on it before preheating. Place a large piece of greased foil on top to catch any juices.

Set the pie directly on the foil-topped baking stone and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the juices bubble through the slashes and the apples feel tender but not mushy when a cake tester or small sharp knife is inserted through a slash. After 30 minutes, protect the edges from overbrowning with a foil ring.

Cool the pie on a rack for at least 4 hours before cutting. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY THE PIE, THE SONG AND THE FIREWORKS BELOW!


I hope you enjoyed the wacky trip around the USA!

Click Here to see Ziggy's Wacky Hat Show
and hear our theme song!

It's so worth the price of admission!

 
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