Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If Chuck Norris Made Apple Pie

Hello, everybody!! The Fresh Pioneer is back and this post is inspired by several different things.

 France. Specifically, the city of Lyon. I didn't live there but I lived in a town like it, about forty minutes away, toward Troyes.

These are apples. You can't really celebrate Fall without apples. You can eat them raw, or caramel apples or.... well, you can see all the ways from the cartoon we all remember of Johnny Appleseed, Disney version here!

Chuck Norris! 
I read a really funny Chuck Norris joke. (Hi, Jimmy!) You know, those ones like "the boogey man checks under his bed for Chuck Norris" and "Chuck Norris doesn't dial the wrong number, you answer the wrong phone" and "Chuck Norris has a grizzly bear rug in his bedroom; the bear isn't dead, it's just afraid to move".
Well, I read one that said, "When life gives Chuck Norris lemons, he makes an apple pie, and it's the best steak you'll ever eat."
I don't know why that struck me as SO FUNNY. But it did. And I started thinking about making an apple pie that wasn't a pie. We've had apple pie here twice lately and but I still have lots of apples and lots of hungry, dessert-loving kids!
So, that brings us to Tarte Tatin! If you're not sure how to pronounce it, here's the phonological description:\ˌtär(t)-tä-ˈtan, -ˈtaⁿ\
Oh, that's not helpful? Well, I guess we all can't have linguistics degrees, I suppose. (OW! Julie just poked my ego with a sharp stick! Fine...)  I kept saying it to my husband until he told me, "That sounds like the end of a song." HA! Okay, true. Dun dun-DUN.
Anyway, moving on!
You'll need:
For the filling-
8 TBS butter
3/4 cups sugar
6-8 apples
For the crust-
1 stick plus 2 TBS butter
2 TBS sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
2-3 TBS of cold water

 Like so. What a pretty bowl! It's had an adventurous life so far. Something about a very friendly dog...
 Two eggs from the chicken coop. And a walnut. Not sure why that was brought to me when I asked for two eggs, but kids are funny that way.
 Make a well with the flour, salt, sugar. Add in the eggs and the butter.
 Mix with your fingers. Ok, if Chuck Norris can do it, we can, too! (Don't even ask if he can rub eggs into flour without feeling squicked out. He's CHUCK NORRIS.)
 Add cold water a TBS at a time until the dough forms a ball. Wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes. It seemed like it was an awful lot of dough for crust. I mean, it's actually just one crust, not even two and it's the size of a kitten. And heavy. (Hold me, Chuck! I'm scared I'm doing this all wrong!)
 Add the butter and sugar in a cast iron pan.
 Stir as the butter melts. (Or employ a child to stir so you can go check your e-mail and read more Chuck Norris jokes.) Medium high heat seems way too hot for this, but this is really the way to go. Stay the course approximately 15 minutes. We're trying to get...
 Caramel. YUMMY. Resist the urge to eat it out of the pan. For one, it's SUPER HOT. Two, we need it.
 Chop apples in half. Skin and core. Layer onto the caramel. (Like how I said that so fast? As if chopping 8 apples takes only a few seconds? That is the genius of a food blog, my friends.)
 Now, several recipes did NOT mention this, but one did, and it was from an actual FRENCH recipe site. (I'm assuming they know what they're doing.) They said add 2 TBS of lemon juice. Sounded good to me. I'm pretty sure it's not so the apples won't turn brown. Boil the apples for 15 minutes on high, turning once.
 It probably seems like a recipe for a disaster. (ha! Recipe! Get it?) Boiling sugar on high for 15 minutes without really stirring?? But, don't wimp out and turn down the heat. The apples will cook more slowly if you do, and then you'll have a huge sticky mess clumped to the bottom of your pan.
 Take the dough out of the fridge and roll out it, so that it's  a couple inches bigger than the diameter of your  pan. (It actually wasn't that much dough so I told Chuck Norris to buzz off. He was getting a little clingy, anyway. I mean, once you've seen a few of those karate moves, you've seen them all, right?) Preheat the oven to 375F.
 Turn off the heat and let it cool for ten minutes. Tuck the crust around the top of the apples but be careful not to burn your fingers. Even thought it's been cooling, these pans stay hot, hot, hot. I have to admit, at this point I was wondering if something had gone wrong. This looked like an apple pie's ugly barbaric cousin.
 Cook about 35 minutes or until the top is browned. (Now I was really sure I'd screwed it up. I was already thinking, "Hm, I wonder what else I can make with all these apples.")

Cool for approximately 20 minutes and invert. You can slip a plate on the top and flip the whole thing over, but that takes some muscle. I actually did a slow slide, turning the Dutch oven until the pie turned gently onto a plate. I had to replace a few apples but it saved my wrists. (And you KNOW how I watch those wrists! These are my writing hands! Must... save... the hands....)
 SHOCKER! It looked so pretty! I was very surprised at how beautiful it was!
 I cut a piece and admired it some more. It held its shape but wasn't tooth-breakingly hard. The apples had softened the caramel and the caramel had seeped into the apples and the crust was like a very sticky cookie, but a bit flaky, too.
 Another shot of the goodness....
I was thinking it didn't quite taste like the Tarte Tatin I remembered from France. I thought it could have used some cardamom or cinnamon or vanilla or... something. But I searched and searched and no recipe ever mentioned any other ingredients (well, unless it was some crazy SoHo New York City one that needed goat cheese and pistachios). So, it's probably just how the memory is better than the reality. Even though the reality is AWESOME.
And here is a last shot of what was left after ten minutes. Mmmm-hmmmmm.
I'll leave you with one more Chuck Norris joke:
Chuck's gmail account address is:
This took me a second. I assume you'll get it a little faster since I'm overdosed on Tarte Tatin!

 Until next time!


  1. Oh, that Texas Ranger! Yum!!! I mean, ah, that apple Tarte Tatin! Yum!!! I read that Chuck Norris counted to infinity twice. "They" said it was a fact, and I would never doubt what "they" said.

    Sounds and looks like a mouth-watering recipe. :)

    1. LOL! That's a good one! I have a friend (Hi, JIMMY!) who has some Chuck Norris joke books and I thought they were kind of repetitious. But they've really grown on me and I was giggling my head off when I was trying to choose jokes for the blog.

  2. I think that walnut would've been good crumbled on top! :-) I Love nuts with apples esp in oatmeal! and how come no one ever makes oatmeal/apple/walnut cookies? I see raisins in cookes..m&ms in cookies but don't think I've ever seen apple chunks in cookies...

    sigh...IF I made this recipe I don't think I'd get any farther than slicing the apples with the greatest invention ever (the round apple slicer thingy!) and the caramel part- being single and childless I'd probably be dipping the slices in the caramel while it's in the pan and yelling OW OW OW when I burn my mouth...then go for another dip...
    Susanna and I LUUUVVV your bowl!

    1. I LUUUUVVVVVV it, too!!! It's so pretty. I just love to admire her from all angles!
      And I have one of those apple slicer/corers. The kids love 'apple rings'! But I wasn't sure if the apples would burn if they were sliced that thin, or if I should turn down the oven, etc. So, I just decided to do the work.... Okay, I had some help!! My daughter did about half of the apple coring and peeling. And I tried my best not to dip in the caramel! It's really just melted sugar anyway, not great caramel like Jan made on here the other day, so it wasn't too hard to resist.

  3. I am in such a pie mood. And caramel mood. And I have apples in the fridge.

    They broke the mold when they made Chuck.

    And thank you for more cute kid pics. He's going to break hearts. So cute and he knows how to make caramel.

    1. He did really well at not tasting it! Especially since it smelled soooo good.

  4. I was going to go with a linguistics degree joke, but those egg yolks stopped me cold. That's what real egg yolk yellow is like---technicolor! Ahhh!!! Pretty, and the tarte is pretty too. As is your child.

    1. piper, I know! A few months ago when they showed fresh eggs here on the blog, I couldn't believe it. I had never seen eggs so yellow (orange). Now I'm buying brown eggs and mine are almost this color.

    2. You just can't beat the yolks on those farm fresh eggs. Aren't they amazing?

    3. Oh, I love a linguistics joke! Go for it!
      Wait... you said degree... better make that a theoretical ling degree joke then!

    4. We love our chickens! We live in town but our city let's us have five at a time with a permit. Urban chickens, baby!!

  5. That tarte tatin pronunciation guide reminds of the time last year, when I tried to teach my people how to say 'Les Misérables'- a lost cause, that's all I can say. But that French pie looks so tasty, and pretty.

    1. LOL, Cindy. That one is a tough one.

      My family is going to think I'm crazy because now I have tarte tatin in my brain and am saying it over and over. It's fun, Virginia! :)

    2. Hilarious, Cindy!!
      It took me 6 months to be able to say arrier grand pere like a native. I remember it being close to my 16th birthday and it was the best present ever because one of my friends had a great grandpa and I sounded like a goof every time I said it!!

    3. Isn't it, Missy???? Hahaha! Tarte tatin! Tarte tatin!! Almost as much fun as saying le lapin!!

    4. I love, love French, it's a beautiful language to talk aloud, but hard to learn pronunciation.
      If you say 'tarte tatin' very fast, over and over, it sounds like that sloth from The Croods movie when he stretches out his arms. :)

  6. LOLOL!!! Oh, we love Chuck jokes around here! I'm amazed at how the fun has gone through kids of all ages. Chuck is for all generations. :)

    Virginia, this looks amazing! You had me at caramel.How big was your iron pan? I couldn't really tell from the photos, except that the end product looks about pie size. That pan looked small, though. I'm thinking I'm going to have to buy a new iron pot! :)

    1. It's actually a dutch oven so it was pretty small! About 8 inches probably. This family needs two of these!

    2. Oh, okay. That's probably a good size for my family. Nice for a pot of chili or... a tarte tatin (just wanted to say it again). :)

  7. Chuck used to live near us. Not sure if he still does or not. Never run into him at the grocery store, though. Not even near the apples.

    I'm very intrigued by this recipe, Virginia. Kind of like an inverted tart. Maybe that's what tatin means in English. Upside down. But what's not to love? You have caramel and apples. Sounds like a match made in heaven to me.

    1. I thinks it's actually named after two elderly sisters who ran an inn. They made this dish for their dad and it became a patron favorite. I don't think it was called this during their lifetime. That's what I heard!

  8. Six kids and a chicken coop? Do you ever get a break? I would like to point out that this recipe looks wonderful. Can I use Gala apples btw?

    Have you ever been to a writing conference?

    1. The six kids do not live in the coop, let me clarify! They are free range children. And I had 26 years of solitude before I started this whole adventure so I'm pretty good about the chaos... at least until 10PM. Then it's every woman for herself.
      I used Gala, actually!

      No, I've never been to a writing conference. It's a misnomer, isn't it? Can we say a "conference for writers"? Or maybe a "conference to talk about writing"? Because there is no writing really going on there. :D And I'm all about the writing at this point.

  9. I love this! If I had time, I'd make it for dinner - but, alas, it's nearly 5:00. Maybe tomorrow :)

    And I have to share my favorite clip of Chuck Norris jokes ever -

    This is part 4, but I've never watched the first three parts - this one is fun all by itself.

    1. I forgot to say THANK YOU for the link to the Johnny Appleseed video!

      When our children were small, we used to sing the Johnny Appleseed song as a prayer for our lunch. My youngest just saw me watching the video, and he got a horrified look on his face. "You're ruining my childhood! I thought you made that song up!"

    2. HAHAHAHA! That's classic!

      And I'd never heard the song before I went to dinner at a friend's house and they sang that for a blessing. I LOVED IT. I never knew you could sing your blessing! *lightbulb*

  10. I had the same revelation about Psalms just this year. They were meant to be sung. Seriously. I grew up Catholic. Never saw a Bible until I went to Protestant summer camp. Sing the Psalms. Like David. WHO KNEW??

  11. Loving the tipped upside down apple thing! (I won't attempt to say it even though you wouldn't KNOW I was blowing it because you'd know. And you'd make fun of me, deservedly!!!)

    I love fresh chicken eggs. Every time I buy feed for our hens, I remind myself how lovely that big bowl of eggs is, sitting in the fridge! ♥♥♥♥

    Tina, that's so funny. We sing the psalm every week at 3 out of our 5 Masses. I've been at this parish for nearly 40 years and they always did that. Church preference, maybe? Pastor's preference? No clue!

    We have a "rap" blessing I do with the little kids. I'll record it and put it up here sometime. It's so fun and they love it. It's joy-filled blessing, 3-year-old style!

    I'm clipping this recipe because it looks wonderful. One of my fave apple ones is that crescent roll apple dumpling Ree Drummond's mother came up with, and who woulda thunk Mountain Dew and apples??? But caramelized goodness, so pretty? I'm in!

  12. I love free range children. And I love that we have trees to climb all over the place. And that Dave has learned which trees must NEVER BE CUT DOWN. A can of red spray paint helped the children show him the error of his ways two years ago. So funny.