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My Grandmother's Apple Cheese Tart

Description

John Ash hit the ground running in 1980, when he opened John Ash & Company in Sonoma County, one of the earliest California-cuisine, wine-centered restaurants. He grew up with his grandparents on a ranch in Colorado. "In retrospect, my grandmother planted the cooking seed in me," he says. One of his favorite recipes was her twist on the classic Midwest-style warm apple pie topped with a slice of cheddar cheese. "Instead of simply putting a slice of cheese on top," he says, "she made a streusel topping that incorporated freshly grated cheese. Two other interesting twists she added were to barely sweeten the crust and add either lemon zest or cider vinegar to give it a contrast to the sweet filling. She also added a little white pepper to the filling to give it interest." As for a wine pairing, Ash recommends "something luscious and sweet, like a Muscat or Riesling. I also love Quady Essencia with this." Every time he makes this pie (usually during the holidays), John Ash thinks of his grandmother. —John Ash hit the ground running in 1980, when he opened John Ash & Company in Sonoma County, one of the earliest California-cuisine, wine-centered restaurants. He grew up with his grandparents on a ranch in Colorado. "In retrospect, my grandmother planted the cooking seed in me," he says. One of his favorite recipes was her twist on the classic Midwest-style warm apple pie topped with a slice of cheddar cheese. "Instead of simply putting a slice of cheese on top," he says, "she made a streusel topping that incorporated freshly grated cheese. Two other interesting twists she added were to barely sweeten the crust and add either lemon zest or cider vinegar to give it a contrast to the sweet filling. She also added a little white pepper to the filling to give it interest." As for a wine pairing, Ash recommends "something luscious and sweet, like a Muscat or Riesling. I also love Quady Essencia with this." Every time he makes this pie (usually during the holidays), John Ash thinks of his grandmother. —Steve Heimoff

Wine pairing: Something luscious and sweet, like a Muscat or Riesling in the 3% R.S. range would work nicely, says John Ash.  I also love Quady Essencia with this.

Category
Desserts
Cuisine
American/New American
Source
John Ash
Number of Servings
Makes one 9-inch tart, serving 8.
Ingredients
For the crust:
6 ounces (1½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into half-inch bits and well chilled or frozen
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (or 2 tablespoons cider vinegar)
1 whole egg, lightly beaten
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water, or as needed

For the filling:
6 cups tart green apples, peeled, cored and sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¾ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
½ cup brown sugar (or to taste)
2 tablespoons flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
cup golden raisins (optional), soaked in brandy or Grand Marnier if desired

For the topping:
½ cup sugar
½ cup flour
3 ounces cold unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into small bits
¾ cup dry jack, asiago, Parmesan or sharp
cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup finely chopped toasted almonds
Directions
Make the crust: Place the butter, flour, sugar, salt, zest and egg in a food processor and pulse four or five times until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal. Add water a tablespoon or two at a time and pulse until dough holds together when pressed in your hand. If not, add more water sparingly. Gather and gently press dough together into two cakes, wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour before using. Roll out one of the dough cakes on a lightly floured surface and line a lightly buttered and floured nine-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Prick crust well. Remaining dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for up to four months. Makes two 9-inch tart shells or one double crust pie.

Make the filling: Mix all ingredients together well and fill the tart shell evenly. (Note: You'll sometimes be instructed in recipes to place the apples in acidulated water to keep them from browning while you're cutting them up. Don't do this! They absorb water, dilute the flavor of the apples and make the crust soggy when the water leaks out during baking.)

Make the topping: Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse two or three times until it forms a coarse crumbly mixture. It should be loose. Scatter topping evenly over the filled tart.

Finish the pie: Bake in pre-heated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature garnished with lightly sweetened whipped cream if desired.
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