The White Mountains, New Hampshire. Visiting the flume after a thunderstorm.
It’s September already. Spring has merged into summer, summer into fall, the hours filled with the same monotonous routine. Somehow we skipped the annual family vacation completely. In perspective it would be self-indulgent to complain. But every time I opened facebook I let out a sigh of envy at all the “wish you were here” photographs and quips my worldly friends kept posting- in Europe, North America, Alaska and beyond. I desperately wanted to escape my mundane corner of the world and head straight to the terminal. Instead I had to make do with another soggy Middle Eastern summer.
Indeed, it’s a bit hectic at the Melamed household and will probably remain so for some years to come. Let me back up. Two years ago my husband quit his job to start his own company. At first it was a mini-retirement in midlife and I soon forgot how intense his schedule once was-multiple business trips, midnight conferences and 100 hour work weeks. For the first time since college, he was home 24/7. All our friends asked “So, Is he driving you crazy yet?” No he wasn’t. Then entire startup moved in as well which was an entirely different story. But I survived and am grateful to have seen the evolution of a startup from idea to fruition (it was funded last June and moved to their offices mid-July).
Catskill State Park, New York
With all the commotion going on and with my work at Weizmann, this summer felt no different than the rest of the year. Sure we went on a few excursions around the country but it wasn’t enough to keep me out of my “woo is me” burn out. Then unexpectedly a couple life changing decisions have come along, leaving me both winded and exhilarated. It’s up in the air, so to speak, and I’m not sure how to feel until it all pans out.
So Instead I’ll try to find balance in our new reality and dream of last year’s vacation in North America. Here is also a recipe for apple pie, a symbol of the New York I have left behind and the dessert that adorned our table for the Jewish New Year.
Bon Appétit’s Millenium Issue, September 1999 with 10 versions of apple pies for 10 decades
Acadia National Park, Maine. Mt. Desert Island, Bar Harbor
A grocery store in northern Maine where pelts and Polish sausage are for sale. Here hunting is not for fun but for necessity.
The Desert of Maine, is an unusual attraction and campground in Freeport Maine. The “desert” was created by erosion after years of bad land management.
The Lobster Shack in Maine, local food
New Hampshire, The White Mountains
Apple pie with pomegranate molasses
For the crust I used a recipe from Simply Recipes and reduced the salt. This is not bread dough and excessive kneading will result in a chewy crust. Minimal handling is the key. The idea is to create a sheath of dough with tiny pockets of butter interspersed within it. Once the butter melts it leaves behind a field of empty bubbles, the secret to a flaky crust.
The apples release moisture during baking which can turn the bottom to mush. To avoid this brush the bottom crust with egg white.
As for the pomegranate molasses, I can’t honestly tell you if I could taste it in the pie. I simply ran out of lemons.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground blanched almonds
200 grams (2 sticks or 1 cup) unsalted butter, very-cold, cut into cubes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
3 or more tablespoons ice water, very cold (I used 15 tablespoons cold water)
1 egg white
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
8 Granny Smith apples – peeled, cored and sliced (about 8 cups total)
2 tablespoon pomegranate molasses (or juice of ½ of a lemon)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a food processor add the flour, almond, salt, sugar and butter. Pulse until the butter breaks up into uniform clumps. Add three tablespoons of water and pulse until it is the consistency of wet sand. I’ve noticed that the dough I use absorbs much more water than what is available in America. It is best to check the dough between your fingers to avoid adding to much water. If it sticks together easily despite being crumbly pour contents on a clean surface and scrunch it into a ball. If not add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until a workable dough is formed. Cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. This step helps relax the dough so it is easier to manipulate.
Meanwhile prepare the filling. Peel, core and slice the apples. I used the niftiest gadget our friend Naftali gave use from Turkey which does it all. Mix the apples with the rest of the ingredients, cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Remove the dough from fridge. For the bottom crust, you’ll need about 2/3 of the dough. Roll out between two pieces of parchment paper until it is big enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 26 cm (~10 inch) pan. To line the pan simply remove top parchment paper and flip it over the pan. Then peel off the second piece of parchment carefully. If it sticks, put it in the freezer for a few minutes and try again. Roll out the remaining dough for the top of the crust. It is no problem if the crust breaks, just put it together like a jigsaw puzzle and it will be fine. (If the whole thing falls apart put the dough in the freezer until frozen then grate it on top of the apple filling instead of making a crust).
Brush the bottom crust with egg white and then fill it with the apple filling and top with the remaining crust. Using your fingertips or a fork, pinch the bottom and top crusts together. Pierce the top crust several times to allow steam to escape. Place in oven and bake until golden, about 45 minutes. Let cool for about 1 hour for the juices to settle. We of course waited an entire five minutes before digging in.
A few more things:
Since I can’t possibly blog as much as I photograph, I‘ve started adding these to my facebook page. I include restaurants, like the quirky Elvis Café in Abu Ghosh, outdoor markets and edible wild plants. So please come and visit.
In addition, for those using Pinterest, I have an account there too.
Below: Mount Chocorua, New Hampshire