Holidays tend to bring out the best in cooks, especially when put on the spot and need to come up with a great dish in the snap of a finger. That happened recently while visiting friends in Tampa when I cooked one of the seven fish dish’s of the traditional Italian Christmas dinner, angel hair pasta (spelt), with olive oil, garlic, anchovies, and lots of parsley, for a party of many. Once back home, my fridge restocked with fruit and vegetables, I discovered two unused pie shells that had not survived the trip home from the market and rested broken in pieces between the frozen spinach and a bag of flax meal.
Time for a New Year’s pie, I decided, so when friends stop over there will be something sweet and delicious to enjoy while catching up on their holiday stories. Other than the broken pie crusts I had a few ripe pears, an apple and the rest I could make up as I went along. Heating the oven to 375 degrees I warmed the bottom crust just enough to soften the dough and then repaired the cracks with a gentle touch of my finger tips. I then layered in the sliced apples and pears, topped with currents, cinnamon, nutmeg, and dotted with butter. Looking for a way to avoid using sugar I decided to use some blood orange juice grown in the volcanic soil of Vesuvia, Italy. Fancy and heady stuff I admit, so use an apple cider when substituting. Mixing the juice with a few other ingredients I poured the liquid over and through the fruit and covered the whole thing with the broken pieces of the second crust. A few more dots of butter followed by a sprinkling of birch bark sugar (any sugar will do fine), and into the oven it went only to emerge 45 minutes later golden brown and perfectly delicious.
Apple Pear Pie
2 pre-made pie crusts, whole or cracked and broken
1 sweet, ripe apple, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
2 ripe pears, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
1/3 cup currents
Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter (optional), broken into small pieces
1/2 cup blood orange juice or sweet apple cider
1 teaspoon kuzu root powder or arrowroot
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Place the frozen bottom crust in the oven and heat just enough to soften the dough. Remove from oven and repair any cracks or tears with fingertips.
3. Layer first the apples and then the pears in a circle around the pie working from outer edge to center. Keep layering until all pieces have been used.
4. Scatter the currents across the top and then sprinkle the cinnamon and nutmeg over the currents.
5. Dot with 2 teaspoons of butter.
6. Meanwhile, whisk together the liquid ingredients. Make sure the kuzu root is thoroughly dissolved, then pour over and through the arranged fruit.
7. Finally, arrange the broken pie crust pieces from the second shell to cover all the fruit. Fit the broken edge pieces along the edge of the bottom crust, but do not press into place.
8. Dot with remaining 2 teaspoons of butter and sprinkle top with the sugar.
9. Bake in oven for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and fruit cooked through.
10. Let rest to cool, about 30 minutes, then serve with pineapple Greek yogurt or flavor of your choosing.