Humble: Double-Crust Apple Pie

By Frank E. Vaerewyck, “The Firehouse Foodie”


As I sit down to write this month’s column, I reflect back on the past and I am humbled. I remember being a wet-behind-the-ears know-it-all who had just enough knowledge to get himself in trouble and now, as a seasoned firefighter or “old salt,” I have learned.

A while back a captain that I looked up to told me a parable that he lived by and demonstrated on a daily basis. I’m sure you have heard it, but please bear with me: A group is discussing a problem, and everyone in the room is putting in their two cents and arguing their point but the gentleman in the corner, who sits quietly, intent on the activities of the room. Everyone in the room thought this man stupid and worthless. They did not pay him any mind until a young outspoken man asked him, “Why are you even here? You have added nothing to this debate and you lend nothing to the resolve.” To which he responded, “Sir, I would rather sit in this corner and be thought an idiot than open my mouth and remove all doubt, as you have done.” A life lesson in the firehouse and in the kitchen is to listen, observe, and learn. That is how the wise become wiser and the wiser become the wisest. I would like to add one thing to my captain’s words of wisdom: Never miss a moment to pass on what you have learned to those willing to listen; the best lesson an old firefighter can teach a young firefighter is how to be an old firefighter.

I am humbled by the people in my life, young and old; the lessons I have learned; and the lessons I am continually learning. Too many times I have been the young, outspoken man in the parable above. I have learned that it is much better to be the gentleman in the corner, taking it all in and formulating that educated, reasonable opinion based on others’ mistakes and misconstrued thoughts. The next time you’re sitting around the kitchen table at the station and an insightful, heated discussion starts, sit back, keep quiet, and watch. See what happens. You may be surprised. 

This month, with summer cookouts right around the corner, I would like to share a wonderful dessert that is not only tasty but healthy, and “That’s Bringing the Firehouse Home.”

 

Double-Crusted Apple Pie

Ingredients:

Pastry:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • Cooking spray

 

Filling:

  • 10 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 3 pounds)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon fat-free milk
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar

 

Directions:

  1. To prepare pastry, lightly spoon 2 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.
  2. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
  3. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Gradually add ice water; toss with a fork until flour mixture is moist.
  5. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Gently press each portion into a four-inch circle on heavy-duty plastic wrap.
  6. Cover and chill 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  8. Slightly overlap two sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface.
  9. Unwrap and place one portion of chilled dough on plastic wrap.
  10. Cover dough with two additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap.
  11. Roll dough, still covered, into a 12-inch circle.
  12. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.
  13. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap; fit dough, plastic wrap side up, into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate coated with cooking spray.
  14. Remove remaining plastic wrap.
  15. To prepare filling, combine apple and next five ingredients (through nutmeg); toss gently to coat. Spoon apple mixture into prepared pie plate; top with butter.
  16. Slightly overlap two sheets of plastic wrap on a slightly damp surface.
  17. Unwrap and place remaining portion of chilled dough on plastic wrap.
  18. Cover dough with two additional sheets of overlapping plastic wrap.
  19. Roll dough, still covered, into an 11-inch circle. Place dough in freezer 5 minutes or until plastic wrap can be easily removed.
  20. Remove top sheets of plastic wrap; fit dough, plastic wrap side up, over apple mixture.
  21. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Press edges of dough together. Fold edges under, and flute. Cut several slits in top of dough to allow steam to escape.
  22. To prepare topping, brush top of dough with milk; sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over dough.
  23. Place pie plate on a foil-lined baking sheet; bake at 425°F for 10 minutes.
  24. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F (do not remove pie from oven); bake an additional 40 minutes or until browned. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy!

 

Frank Vaerewyck has had a passion for the fire service that has spanned 20 years. He has been a volunteer and career firefighter and is currently a firefighter/EMT with the Manassas (VA) Volunteer Fire Company. He has passed on his passion for the fire service through instruction and mentorship. That same passion he has for the fire service is shared with his love of food. In 2006, Vaerewyck won an Iron Chef-style competition sponsored by a radio station in Richmond, Virginia. That is where he also furthered his education by attending a Culinary Arts Program. As the Firehouse Foodie, he has been compiling recipes to be included in a cookbook that will give others the opportunity to see their hometown heroes not just as firefighters, but as the firehouse chefs they truly are.

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