Wannabe Martha

Still trying to figure out which Martha

The Best Steak Sandwich Ever (And how to cook the steak perfectly)

Seriously EVER EVER EVER!   This fabulous Theater Steak with Mushrooms, Onions, and Grilled Bread is beyond sublime.  It’s also expensive and should not be wasted on children.

I made it for Mack as a huge Thank You (I’ve already discussed the importance of the personalized thank-you).  And what, exactly, did Mack do to warrant this sandwich?  He came over and fished a D.E.A.D. R.A.T. out of the pool skimmer basket.  This is all I’m going to say on the matter.

Stroll on over to The Kitchn  and check out this recipe.  Bookmark it.  Print it out.  Frame it.  Gild it.  Open a safe deposit box for it.  Someday you may need to say Thank You for acts of heroism.  Trust  me, this will do the job, particularly if you’re thanking someone with carnivoristic tendencies.  (I know that’s not a word, but it sounds right).

(Also, this recipe finally helped me learn to cook steak perfectly on the stovetop).


How do I Thank Thee? Why by Baking, of Course

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
James Allen

I’m not of the opinion that there is a one-size-fits-all way of thanking another individual who has helped you.  Rather, a little thought and care should go into the thanks.  Now, I’m not talking here about the little thank you’s (I know it shouldn’t have an apostrophe, but not having there just looks too weird for me to stomach).  It’s perfectly appropriate to offer a polite word of thanks, accompanied by a smile, for the little things folks do as a matter of every day polite behavior – holding the door open, pointing out that the tag on the back of your sweater is showing, handing you the change you dropped – those things.

What I’m talking about here are the times when someone (your BF’s husband) does something for you that you can’t really adequately thank him for.  Like driving over to the Crapmart parking lot in the middle of the afternoon to jumpstart your car because the battery died and you don’t know what to do plus you don’t actually own jumper cables.

These acts of kindness (rescue) call for more than just a couple of heart felt words.  They call for pie. In this particular case, it calls for apple pie, because Jason’s a fellow relocated Yankee, and I can think of no better way to thank him than to bake up his favorite and since he’s the only one at his house who likes apple pie, he gets it all to himself.

There’s nothing fancy about this recipe – just some pastry crust, apples, sugar, cinnamon and butter.  Doesn’t take long to and is one of those nearly perfect foods – wonderful warm with ice cream or ice cold for breakfast.  There’s just no wrong way or time for a slice.  So, if you need to thank somebody, bake one up.  Actions may speak louder than words, but a homemade pie makes them all the sweeter.  (And, as an aside, pie works equally well as an apology for those occasions when you’re in the wrong and need to make things right).


Down & Dirty Apple Pie


Preheat the oven to 425F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with (preferably nonstick) foil and set aside.

Prepare the crust (may be done ahead of time):

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt (regular table salt, nothing fancy)
2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. COLD solid vegetable shortening
¼ cup ice water

 Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl.  Add the shortening and cut it in with a pastry cutter until it resembles peas.  Then put the bowl in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to chill up the shortening again.

Then add the water 1 Tbsp. at a time and toss it with a fork until all the flour is moistened.  Gather it into a ball, gently, and then divide into two portions with one a little larger than the other.   Flatten each portion into a round disk.

Refrigerate for another ten (10) minutes.  (I use this time to clean up my mess and get the counter set up to roll out the pastry).

Remove the smaller portion and roll into about 1/8 inch thick.  Carefully ease it into the pie pan.  Return the lined pie pan to the refrigerator while you make the filling.

(This is where you make the filling – see below)

Once the pie is filled, remove the second disk and roll out.  Cap the pie;, trim edges and flute (or however you like to finish your edge).  Cut several slashes in the crust to vent; brush with a glaze of 1 beaten egg & 1 Tbsp. water – makes a pretty shiny glaze.

For the Filling:

¾ – 1 cup sugar (this really depends on how tart your apples are)
1 ½ tsp. cinnamon (no need to go all fancy with roasted cinnamon or anything)
6 – 7 Cups sliced pared apples (I used Granny Smith)
2 Tbsp. butter, cut into tiny cubes

 In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon.

Peel, core, and slice the apples – try to get the slices as uniform as possible so they’ll cook evenly.  Add to the bowl and toss to coat with the cinnamon sugar.  Heap the apples into the pastry-lined pie plate and dot with the butter cubes.

Cap and finish as above and then placed on the lined baking sheet (because if you don’t, then you are guaranteed to have a dripping, smoking mess all over your oven floor – the universe just works that way).

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes.  After about 20 minutes, I check to make sure that the crust is not browning too quickly and, if need be, put a sheet of foil over the top.  I also put a pie shield around the edges at this point, because they just get too dark.   Your pie is done when the crust is nicely browned and the apples are cooked through – use a sharp knife inserted through the vent slashes – it should go through easily.

There you have it – nothing fancy, not too hard to throw together (especially if, like me, you always double your pie crust recipe and keep some in the freezer for emergencies – what, you don’t think an emergency might involve pie?  Seriously?  I think we’re going to need to talk).

Apple Pie

Looks good enough to eat

 It belatedly occurred to me that some folks prefer a crumb top on their pie – I love them both, so Yay to that.  Here’s the crumb topping I use.  The only caution I would make, is to reduce the sugar in the pie slightly, say maybe by a quarter cup so that it’s not overly sweet.  Bake at 400F but check for browning about 15 minutes into the baking so you don’t burn the crumbs.  (BTW – this crumb recipe is equally delish sprinkled on muffins and coffee cake or any other baked good).

Crumb Topping for Apple Pie:

½ cup (1 stick) butter (you can go ahead and used salted, I won’t tell anyone)
½ cup sugar (light brown sugar is good too)
1 cup all-purpose flour

Mix all the ingredients until crumbly and pile on over your pie filling.  You can double the recipe if you like a lot of crumb; plus they freeze well.

Recipe adapted from “Betty Crocker’s New Picture Cookbook”, First Edition, Second Printing, 1961 (and yes – it does matter which edition and what year it was printed)

 [Edited to correct a really whoppingly huge error on the Crumb Topping Recipe – 1/2 cup of butter is equal to one (1) stick, NOT two.  And my apologies to anyone who may have made it (or tried to) and ended up with a real mess.]