A cooking and baking journal

Oliver's "Twist" on Apple Pie

2/14/10: Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs and Appleberry Pie

Meal details: For the main course I made meatballs stuffed with mozzarella cheese to be served on top of spaghetti. And for dessert I made two apple pies, one with blueberries and orange added.

Defining moments: First time for me to make meatballs, an apple pie with additional fruit, and an apple pie made with frozen apples. Frozen apples? Learn more about me freezing Gravenstein apples here.

Recipe sources: The meatball recipe came from the cookbook, Ciao Italia - Five Ingredient Favorites by Mary Ann Esposito, the host of the Ciao Italia t.v. show. The appleberry pie recipe came from Jamie Oliver's website. Jamie Oliver is the host of The Naked Chef, Jamie's Kitchen, and Jamie at Home on the Food Network channel. I chose this appleberry pie because I am part of the FNCCC (Food Network Chef Cooking Challenge), being hosted by the writer of the I Thank My Mother blog.
I don't often see Jamie on Food Network now, and I only watched one episode of Jamie at Home. So he is one of the few chefs from Food Network that I haven't watched much!

What I learned: Hmm. . . Let me think. First off, I learned that I should take a shopping cart to the freezer when gathering the ingredients. :) You should have seen the load of freezer containers I brought up for this meal! A package of ground beef, two quarts of spaghetti sauce, three quarts of frozen apples, a quart of blueberries. . . What an armload.
Secondly, I learned that moving the ground beef to the fridge on Friday morning gives just the right amount of thawing time. I had no problem forming the meatballs.
Another thing I learned is that these pies love to spill their juices over during the baking process. I needed to place cookie sheets on the bottom rack to catch the falling juices from the two 'geysers' on the second level. :) And once the collected juices started to steam and later smoke. . . Well, you can guess the rest. Exhaust fan on full blast!

Any modifications? I made one modification to the meatball recipe. Instead of using the recommended ground chuck and sirloin, I used all ground chuck. Sirloin is a bit too expensive so that's why I made the change.
And I also made some changes to the pie recipe. To better explain what I did, here is my ingredient list: (Note: I am including cup equivalents to the gram weights and American lingo to the British lingo.)

For the pastry:

  • 500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting (4 cups All-Purpose flour)
  • 100g icing sugar (3/4 cup powdered sugar)
  • a pinch of salt
  • 250g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes (2 sticks) -- For the Gravenstein apple pie I made, I used half butter and half shortening. Wanted to try out this ratio because Alton Brown mentioned it on Good Eats last year.
  • 2 large eggs
  • a splash of milk

For the filling:

  • 10 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and halved, 3 sliced -- I used Calville Blanc variety of apple for the appleberry pie and Gravenstein apples for the 100% apple pie. I didn't prepare the apples like he states here, I sliced all the apples. Why? The apples I chose don't cook down as much as Granny Smith and my family is used to slices.
  • juice and zest of 2 oranges -- I used one orange.
  • 7 heaped tablespoons caster sugar (granulated sugar) -- I used 5 tablespoons.
  • 400g huckleberries or blueberries (2 3/4 cup) -- I used blueberries.
  • 1 heaped tablespoon plain flour (All-Purpose flour)
  • 1 large egg
  • A small handful of demerara sugar -- I didn't use this sugar, never seen it before. I read from an internet source that this sugar is used in sweetening tea and coffee.
How it tasted? When I first read the recipe for the meatballs I thought, "These aren't going to be very flavorful." I mean, only salt, pepper, and mozzarella for flavor? No need to fret next time. I served delicious meatballs and everyone liked them. Now I know why good Italian food is known for its simplicity.

The appleberry pie and Gravenstein pie were both very tasty. The appleberry pie kind of surprised me because the major flavor is orange. I thought the blueberries would be the primary fruit in this pie, but it was that one orange I used! Go figure. I'm not a big orange fan so I was kind of disappointed by this. I'm glad I only used one orange instead of the suggested two, or boy, that would have been a very orange-y pie for sure. Next time I think I will either eliminate the orange altogether or just add orange juice. But for those who do like orange, go for a whole orange here.
The appleberry pie had a good amount of juice on the bottom, but from what I can tell from the recipe's picture, this is normal. It didn't affect the 'mucho' crust at all. The crust for this pie was flaky.

The Gravenstein pie was surprisingly good. The frozen apple slices I used held up well and had a good texture. Initially, I thought this pie would have applesauce for a filling; thank goodness I was wrong. The crust was less flaky than the appleberry pie but was more tender. So the addition of shortening and subtraction of butter did make a difference. Gosh, Alton Brown was right. ;)

How about a 2nd time? Yes, to both recipes. But maybe next time I'll add onions to the meatballs (I love onions, hehe) and omit the orange from the pie.

As you can see, there is a bit of juice on the bottom of the pie.

1 comment:

  1. Your Cheesy Stuffed Meatballs look amazing!!

    Maybe I'll try something like them soon. :)
    Thanks for sharing.