Blanca Cotta was an Argentine cook who was well-known for her simple recipes that often consisted of common ingredients that you’d find in your pantry. She had a sharp wit and sense of humor and a real talent for explaining things so that anyone could understand them, including children, who she wrote recipes for in the popular childrens’ magazine Anteojitos.
I discovered Blanca recently when researching classic Argentine cooks. It was something that she said about why she cooks that really stuck with me and I had one of those warm, tingly moments where I felt like I’m not alone in this world.
She explained that her recipes were filled with “mimos” or caresses, and that she could never be a “commercial chef” because she only cooked for people that she wanted to pamper or spoil, it was her way of showing she cared.
When it comes down to it, all cooks must feel the same way. We want our loved ones to be happy and healthy – with full bellies – and this is our way of making sure it happens in the most delicious way.
In this same way, cooking can be like exposing yourself and your weaknesses to others. You put your love, sweat and tears into a dish and if it comes out badly, or someone doesn’t like it- it can feel like a real rejection.
But, ahhh- those moments when you succeed and you say to yourself “hot damn, this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my life!” – those are moments to live for.
Luckily, I had one of those moments yesterday when I decided to make an apple pie to impress some new friends. I was nervous as they’d already heard alot about my “cooking capabilities”, which may or may not have been exagerrated. I didn’t want to disappoint with just any old apple pie recipe. I wanted a melt-in-your-mouth, oh-my-god pie. Which I got from Joy of Baking.
This recipe call for an extra step, which is key to making a pie that is moist-but doesn’t cause the bottom crust to be soggy- draining the apples after you’ve tossed them with sugar, spices and lemon- and reducing that mixture to thick, caramely sauce that you pour over the apples before baking.
Apple Pie Recipe adapted from Joy of Baking
Pie crust (Pâte Brisée):
2 1/2 cups (350 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon (30 grams) white sugar
1 cup (226 grams) butter, chilled, and cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 – 120 ml) ice water
Sift together flour, salt and sugar. Add butter and mix in with a fork, until the mixture is sandy.
Add water and mix until a ball is formed. Divide in two balls, wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
2 1/2 pounds (1.1 kg) apples(about 6 large), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick – I used a mixture of green and red apples.
1/4 cup (50 grams) white sugar
1/4 cup (55 grams) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix everything together and let rest at least 30 minutes.
Strain apples and collect the juice in a coffee mug. Microwave (or reduce on stove top) until it’s a thick syrup.
Roll out one of the dough balls and press into a 9-inch (23 cm.) pie plate, add apples and pour caramel syrup on top.
Roll out other dough ball and cover the pie with it. Crimp edges, cut slits on top and sprinkle top with cinnamon and sugar.
Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) until apples are soft, crust is golden and juices are bubbling through the slits.
Let cool 3-4 hours before serving.