‘Welcome Home” Apple Pie

One of my favorite traditions from growing up is the Hinchey “welcome home apple pie”. Whenever me, my sister or my dad would come home from any time being away, my mom would always have made us an apple pie. The house would smell like home, it was always such a delicious welcome after whatever (usually) awful food we’d been eating at college or wherever, and honestly, it just made me feel loved. Brendan recently spent a week away in both North and South Carolina, so I took advantage of the first real time we’ve spent away from each other to make this for him when he finally got back into town. You can make this from scratch, I promise! Even the dough. It’s easier than it looks even though it makes a little bit of a mess. Plus it has the added bonus of making whoever you’ve made it for feel really, really special.  <3

– 9 apples – I used Cortland, my mom uses Granny Smith, so just use whatever you like and will hold up well (so no macintosh or softer apples)
– 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
– 4 Tsp. sugar (C6H12O6)  :]
– 1 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg
– juice of 1/2 lemon
– 2 tbsp. butter sliced into thin pads
– condensed milk

Dough (makes 2 crusts – 1 for the top and 1 for the bottom of the pie)
– 2 cups all-purpose flour (don’t use whole wheat. This is an apple pie. Splurge.)
– 1 tsp. salt
– 1/2 tsp. baking powder
– 1/3 c. super cold butter (I throw this in the freezer)
– 1/3 c. shortening
– 1/3 super cold water

1. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Make the dough. The easiest way to make this whole pie is to have an awesome Cuisinart food processor, which is my most-favorite and least-used kitchen appliance. If not, you can use a Kitchen Aid mixer, or just kick it old school and do everything by hand.

3. Combine 2 C. flour, the salt & the baking powder.


4. Chop up the super cold butter into little pieces, add to the flour mixture. Here’s why you need the butter to be as cold as possible, and work as quickly as possible to make the dough itself.  The cold little pieces of butter kind of burrow their way into the dough, and then when you bake this, they warm up and create these little pockets of explosions of deliciousness in the crust, which is amazing (obvs).

5. Pulse the butter into the flour mixture until it starts to form little pellets of dough. At that point, add the cold water (same reasoning for this as the cold butter) a little bit at a time, mixing until it starts to come together. My mom’s note is to not overmix this, “so don’t make this when you’re annoyed!”

6. Form a ball out of the dough, wrap in saranwrap and refrigerate while you get the apples ready.

7. Peel, core and slice the apples into 1/4 inch slices. 

8. Combine the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon & nutmeg. Toss with the apple slices to coat.

9. Flour the surface of a piece of wax paper,  dust a rolling pin with flour, then roll out half the dough into a circle. 

10. Carefully flip the dough into the bottom of a pie dish, letting any dough overlap. Remove the wax paper and gently press the dough into the dish.

11. Layer the apples into the pie dish, saving about 1/2 cup. 

12. Squeeze the half lemon over the apples, then add the slivers of butter in a circle. Top with remaining apples.

13. Roll out the other half of the dough in the same way you made the bottom crust. Cover the apples as carefully as you can.

14. Crimp up the edges of the dough to make the top of the crust and seal the pie. 

15. Now comes the fun part!  Pies need to breathe as they bake, so they need some air holes in the top crust. You can be traditional and just put a few slices into the top crust, or you can make cuts into designs and decorate it however you want. Or, you can be in love and put your initial and the initial of your boyfriend in a heart (ahem). I know, I know. Sometimes I’m like a 12 year old girl at heart.

16. Brush condensed milk over the top of the pie, then sprinkle white sugar lightly over the top of the pie.

17. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 and bake for another 45 minutes.

18. Serve with vanilla ice cream and also, as my mom instructs, “with lots of love.”  Welcome home.  

Shaved Apple & Fennel Salad with Lemon and Toasted Walnuts over Arugula

Oh, Gwyneth Paltrow. She seems to get a lot of shade thrown her way for the Goop blog, the way she can do things like ask her celeb friends not to do interviews with a magazine that’s threatening to expose her, her kids’ names, her “conscious uncoupling”…etc. I get it to some degree, but come on – she’s freaking Gwyenth Paltrow. She’s been in serious relationships with Brad Pitt, Ben Affleck and Chris Martin. She’s an Oscar winning actress. Her mom is Blythe Danner and her godfather is Steve Spielberg. She’s run in some pretty heavy circles probably since she was born, so can we really blame her for thinking it’s normal for everyone get a wood-fired oven in their backyard? I think  her ‘I am who I am” attitude is judged as not apologetic enough, but honestly, if I were her I wouldn’t be apologetic for what I grew up in and what things I enjoy either. I think she just is who she is, and frankly, that seems pretty cool. To summarize: Get it, girl. Now, Anne Hathaway, on the other hand…  Anyway, the recipes on Goop are awesome – super super clean, healthy and delicious. This salad is adapted, and I’m going to be making it alllllll the time. Brendan even said it was the best salad he’s ever had.

– 1 bulb fennel, top parts cut off (but leaves saved), core removed.
– 1 tart apple
– Juice and zest of 1 lemon
– toasted walnuts, approx. 1/3 cup
– approx. 3 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt & pepper
– Arugula (optional)

1. With either a julienne slicer or a Cuisinart food processor with a slicer attachment, shave the fennel bulb and the apple into paper-thin slices (this really makes a difference in the overall salad). Put into a bigger bowl.

2. Over medium heat, toast the walnuts, shaking the pan every minute or so and making sure they don’t burn.

3. Zest and juice the lemon, then add to the bowl with the apple and fennel shavings. Add kosher salt & pepper, mix well to combine.

4. Add EVOO and walnuts, mix. Top with the toasted walnuts and a couple fennel leaves.

5. If using arugula, I just arranged some on a plate, juiced a little lemon over it, then added the apple/fennel salad on top of the arugula leaves. The apple/fennel dressing will work as enough dressing for the arugula.

6. We had this with salmon burgers with a simple lemony dill sauce on avocado toasts. So good.   

Apple, Banana, Avocado & Honey Smoothie

Not only does this smoothie give you, most likely, your total potassium values for the day, it’s also incredibly tasty. The avocado gives it a smoothness (a smoothness smoothie – ha), and the honey adds a lift of delicate sweetness. I had it for breakfast this morning and wasn’t hungry until hours later.

APPLE, BANANA, AVOCADO & HONEY SMOOTHIE (Makes 2 large smoothies)
– 1 red apple (I used Cortland), washed, and cut into chunks. Leave the skin on to retain the nutrients
– 1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks
– 1 avocado, peeled and cut into chunks
– 2/3 C. milk
– 1 C. ice
– 1 tbsp honey – local and organic, if you can find it (this, bizarrely, will help with allergies)

1. Cut up the apple, banana, and avocado.

2. Add ice, milk, fruit, and honey to the blender.

3. Blend until smooth. Add milk to thin to taste.


Ricotta, Apple, and Honey-stuffed Squash Blossoms

I love fall, and I love the Scranton Farmers’ Market.  The other day, I spotted these gorgeous little squash blossoms, tucked inside a little plastic bag:

Look at these guys!  Gorgeous. Making squash blossoms has always seemed pretty out of my league – they’re so delicate, and seemingly decadent. But I couldn’t resist.  I bought a bag, went home, and googled the trash out of “squash blossom recipes”.  The basic premise seemed simple enough – stuff them with something, then either deep fry, bake, or pan sear them.

Since I’d been alerted to the fact that it was Rosh Hashanah, and Brad and I have basically decided on combining our different religious backgrounds to include “traditions”, I thought I’d make him a little pan-seared squash blossom, stuffed with a filling of ricotta, apple, and honey (for a sweet new year). We could have eaten these for dessert instead of a side at dinner. They were savory, so pretty, and honestly, they looked like SO much more of an effort than they actually were to make. So here we go.

* We had about 8 blossoms in total, but a normal person would probably have eaten 2, max, as a side to dinner

– Squash blossoms
– Good quality ricotta, approx. 2/3 cup
– 1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg, or to taste
– 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
– 1/2 apple of your choice, microplaned (no skin)
– 2 tablespoons organic honey
– extra virgin olive oil (REAL olive oil, see this post for a heads-up on the olive oil you may have been consuming)

1. Be unable to walk by squash blossoms without thinking they’re so pretty, and then mentally talk yourself into the fact that you can cook with them.

oh, hello there!

2. Wash out the blossoms – gently. You can kind of ply them apart with the larger end of a chopstick. Just make sure any bugs, etc. are out of the blossom.

3. Gently snip out the center of the blossom, being careful not to make a hole in the bottom of the blossom, or tear the leaves.
that center part, the polleny-looking thing, has gots to go.
4. Combine the ricotta, honey, salt, nutmeg, and microplaned apple, stir to combine.  Add mixture to a plastic bag, snip a small corner off the bag. This is now your pastry bag, so you can insert the filling into the blossom more easily.

5. In a large saute pan, add a 1/4 inch of olive oil. Heat over medium high heat until hot.

6. Insert the filling into the squash blossoms. Twist the petals together so that the filling is securely enclosed.

7. Carefully add the squash blossoms to the pan, searing lightly (approx. 2 minutes). With a pair of tongs, flip the blossoms over so that all sides are cooked evenly. Some filling will fall out, but just keep turning them.

8. Serve alongside dinner (ours was Greek Yogurt Chicken and baked leeks). Have your non-practicing, but still tradition-sentimental, Jewish fiance think you’re the most thoughtful thing ever because you remembered his New Year.