Pots and Pans and Skillet Pie
Brooklyn Kitchen, which is now relocating to its larger Meat Hook location on Frost and Meeker, is one of my favorite stores. It is filled with the most beautiful cookware– enameled cast iron Le Creuset, shiny copper pots from a local company, Hammersmith, and stainless steel All-Clad pans. This is high-quality cookware that kajdhskajshdaksd, will last forever, and as a bonus, serves as sculptural objects. These are not thin, Teflon-coated cancer-causing skillets from a Big Box store. Unfortunately, they are also not inexpensive: A Le Creuset 2.75 Qt Dutch Oven is $110 on sale. The 5.5 Qt size is $230. An 8″ All-Clad Fry Pan is $80. A Hammersmith sauce pan is almost $200. Does this mean that an aspiring gourmet on a budget is destined for a life of aluminum and Teflon?Absolutely not. The solution: Vintage Cookware!
The beauty of good quality cookware that will last forever is that it lasts forever! But people don’t necessarily keep it forever. In fact, Brooklyn Kitchen also has a selection of vintage cookware. (I promise, I DO NOT work for Brooklyn Kitchen– I just love the store!) A couple of months ago, Sam purchased a blue cast iron, enameled Le Creuset skillet from them. The other week I scored a lovely yellow enamel Descoware pan for $25. (Descoware, popularized by Julia Child, was made until the late seventies, when it was purchased by Le Creuset. I actually prefer the Descoware pans– NOTHING sticks to them, and, like the Le Creuset, they go stovetop to oven.) I’ve also purchased some cute vintage Pyrex dishes there– $25 each. Other great sources are Ebay and craigslist. Over the past six months, I’ve purchased a small Autumn Leaves Descoware pan, two more matching 1 quart and 2 quart Descoware saucepans, a Dansk Kobenstyle Quistgaard pot and casserole dish, a Le Creuset Dutch oven and skillet, and a Michael Lax Copco pan, each for under $30. Scour your local thrift stores as well– you never know what you’ll find!
As you can probably tell, although I do have a stainless stockpot and saucepan, I really love cast iron and enameled cookware. Not only is it beautiful, but it also retains heat well, cooks evenly, and can go directly from the stovetop into the oven, which means more one pot meals and less cleanup! This winter, I’ve been very into making skillet pies. Below is the recipe for my skillet apple pie, pictured.
Single Butter Pie Crust (pâte brisée) A food processor makes it considerably easier to need a perfect crust. Unfortunately, I don’t have one, but I love the flakiness of an all-butter crust. My solution is to freeze my butter, and then grate it into my flour mixture, so it’s light, evenly distributed, and much easier to form. INGREDIENTS
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, frozen, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 2 to 4 tablespoons ice water
In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, and sugar. Add the grated butter, and mix well so that butter is evenly distributed. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time, and use your hands to form the mixture into a large ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until your filling is ready. When filling is ready, roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into about a 12-inch disc and transfer to top of skillet.
Skillet Apple Pie Filling
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 apples, peeled and sliced (I like to use a variety and include at least one Granny Smith)
- 1 pear, peeled and sliced
- 1/4 cup dried fruit (cherries, raisins, or cranberries)
- 1/8 cup whiskey
- 2 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
- Cinnamon to taste
- Nutmeg to taste
Preheat your oven to 375. In a cast iron or enameled skillet, melt the butter. Add apples, pears and sugar, and cook over low heat until the fruit begins to caramelize. Add whiskey, dried fruit, cinnamon and nutmeg and simmer. Place your rolled out pie crust atop the skillet, pinch the sides to the edge of the pan, and trim the excess crust off. Place the entire skillet into the oven, and bake about 30 minutes, or until crust is done. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Place a plate atop the skillet, and invert the pie onto the plate, so that it’s a freestanding tart. Serve with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!