Monday, October 4, 2010

Chiles from Colorado

The annual chile-apple exchange: Nikki sends me chiles from Colorado, I send her apples from New Hampshire.  This year she went above and beyond, with chiles from her garden.

So we're at the headwaters of autumn.  Caitlin and I had two pies this weekend: the last tomato pie of the year, and a Concord grape pie.  The apples available now are fall apples like Northern Spies and Spensers, not the early apples like Jersey Macs and Gravensteins.  Pumpkins are out, squashes ... I'm trying not to think about imminent winter.

Concord grape pie

Concord grape pie is one of my favorite pies.  We talked about Concord grapes last year.  The domesticated descendant of wild fox grapes, it's the grape that the "grape flavor" of soda and candy is based on.  The pie is a little laborious, though less so than pitting cherries for a cherry pie.  You start with a saucepan, a mixing bowl, and whatever container your grapes are in.  Work your way through the grapes, squeezing on each so that the grape pops out of the skin into the saucepan, and drop each skin into the mixing bowl.  Heat the resulting pan of grape pulp for five or six minutes, and then run it through a food mill or press it hard through a strainer, into the mixing bowl.  You can actually use an immersion blender on the pulp if you're careful - you don't want to grind the seeds up, or start flinging them around.

Anyway, you've now got a bowl full of grape skins and pulp without the seeds.  You can give the bowl a couple pulses with the immersion blender if you want, to chop the skins up a bit.  Add sugar and lemon juice to taste, and a spoonful or two of cornstarch to thicken up the filling, and boom, you're done - put the filling in a pie crust, bake, serve with vanilla ice cream.

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