My week before Thanksgiving was entirely spent in amassing groceries. I visited every kind of specialty store to stock up my pantry and refrigerator so that I would have everything needed to feed my kids and their friends coming back from college. Both my kids love being at college and are thoroughly enjoying their life away from home; but they both confess that the only reason they miss home is that they missed good home-cooked food. Of course, the mom in me then wants to over-compensate when they do come home for a few days. So over that week, I was in the constant cycle of cooking, eating and cleaning but in spite of that I was not able to use up all the raw material that I had purchased before their arrival. Now the Thanksgiving break is over and all the kids have returned to their respective colleges, I am now left with an assortment of ingredients that I didn’t manage to use – which just means that I get to experiment with them.
Today’s experiment was a Mini Apple Cranberry Pie. Usually I don’t like pies because for some reason I don’t like the flavor of cinnamon in sweet tasting dishes. Yes, I know that is very weird but I just can’t seem to get past this hang-up of mine. I am quite open to all kinds of foods and flavors and I eat any and everything but cinnamon and sweet stuff just don’t work for me. What is even weirder is that I love cinnamon in savory dishes – this must have something to do with the fact that I am Indian. In India we use cinnamon almost always in curries, pilaf and spice rubs but we do not use it in desserts. And now even though I have lived in the US for over 25+ years, I just can’t seem to get past this one hang-up! The result is that I don’t like things like pies, cinnamon buns, French toast, coffee cakes or rice pudding. Anyway, I made my own apple pie substitute where I flavored the apple with lemon zest and dried lemon verbena – it gave the pies a very fresh “citrusy” flavor!
1. One sheet of puff pastry
2. 1 crisp fresh apple
3. ½ cup of cranberries
4. The zest of ½ a lemon
5. The juice of ½ lemon
6. 3 tablespoons of sugar
7. 1 teaspoon of dried lemon verbena
1. Heat the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Peel the apple and slice it in small pieces and place in a dish.
3. Using a sharp knife, slice the cranberries in small pieces (reserve 9-10 cranberries for garnishing) and place the sliced cranberries with the sliced apple pieces.
6. Open out the cold sheet of puff pastry and spread it on a large cutting board.
7. Using a sharp knife, cut the sheet into 9 equal squares.
8. Spray the inside surface of a small muffin pan with oil.
9. Using a cookie cutter or the lid of a small can, cut nine circles of the puff pastry.
14. Add a fresh cranberry on top of each of the nine muffin cups and sprinkle a little bit of sugar on each of these cups.
15. Place the muffin pan in the heated oven (on the middle rack) and cook the mini pies for approximately 30 minutes. The heat level in each oven varies a little so keep an eye on them and when the top of the pies looks done, take the muffin pan out.
16. Carefully take the pies out of the muffin pan and let them cool on a cooling rack. Serve them while they are still hot as a light dessert or a snack with a cup of tea or coffee.