23 January, 2011

Rhythm and Apple Pie

It felt good to be back in the kitchen today. An afternoon of crust making, apple peeling, chicken roasting, orange peeling, and even doing the dishes. I honestly can't remember the last time I did that - prepared a proper Sunday dinner.

Today Smilosaurus was very helpful. I'm going to milk that. Her sister was the same way, until she turned 3. Now she isn't as interested in the kitchen. Like all moms, I'm clinging to the adoration of my children while I have it. She helped me rub the freshly roasted hazelnuts in a clean towel, she worked the food processor, tossed the fennel and apples, and stood transfixed as I peeled a blood orange.

Even on the days when I just-want-to-get dinner-on-the-table I'm always happy for her help. Well, except when she decides she needs to salt things. We're used to each other and have already developed our own rhythm. And she's two and a half!

Then today I tried a new recipe - Apple Pie with Chinese Five Spice Powder and Hazelnut Crumb Topping. It was just apple pie, but it wasn't the way I normally make apple pie. It seemed to take forever! A different crust, precooking the filling, and orange juice in the crumble topping?! My rhythm was off, way off. The only part that felt right, felt normal was peeling the apples.

So, it took a little longer. So what? It was damn good apple pie! The 5-spice powder was intoxicating, beyond anything cinnamon every aspires to be. While the crust was mediocre (oh, how I wish I'd stuck with my own pate brisee), the crumble topping was insane. I doubted the orange juice, but that made it sing. No taste of orange, but a heightened hazelnut brightness.

As I followed the recipe to a T, check it out here, from The Nourish Network. Kind of appropriate too, seeing as it was National Pie Day in the US. It fits in with Lauren's Go Ahead Honey series too.

We ate our roast chicken and potatoes, apple and fennel slaw with sunflower seeds, and roasted chiogga beets with oranges, blood oranges, and goat cheese. Before pie The Monster and Hubby went skating. Spazzing was kept to a minimum and she was rewarded with two slices of pie. Okay, maybe I was rewarded too...

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