The Future of America

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, celebrated on the third Monday in January, is a relatively new holiday.  Signed into law in 1983 and first observed in 1986, it wasn’t until 2000 that the holiday was officially observed in every state.  Many are still fighting for the equality they deserve, the equality that King spoke of in 1963 in his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.  I’m hoping that this is the presidential term where change really happens, giving everyone in this nation equal rights.  King believed in a nonviolent approach to change and did not publicly support any political party.  Today, President Obama will publicly take the oath of office, placing his hand on both Lincoln’s inaugural Bible and King’s traveling Bible.

Because January twentieth is the date mandated by the Twentieth Amendment, Barack Obama officially took the oath of office yesterday in a brief ceremony.  Today will be the public inauguration ceremony complete with the first Latino, immigrant, openly gay poet to read at a presidential inauguration.  Obama has limited the official inaugural parties this year to two balls and one children’s concert citing current economic conditions, and the tradition of the inaugural luncheon will continue.  The inaugural luncheon is hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies (JCCIC) and began as we know it in 1953.  The luncheon includes the president and vice president, their spouses, Senate leaders, the JCCIC members and other invited guests and includes various speeches, toasts, and gift presentations.  At today’s luncheon, the theme is “Faith in America’s Future,” and guests will dine on a three course menu including foods from all over the country including Maine lobster, Virginia veggies, South Dakota bison, and Hudson Valley apple pie.

I saw “apple pie” and I knew I wanted in on the action.  The pie at the luncheon will be individual-style apple crumble, served with a maple caramel sauce, a scoop of sour cream ice cream on top and will be garnished with a piece of cheese and honeycomb.  There is nothing about this I don’t love, so I hunted down a scaled-back recipe (I’m not making lunch for 200, after all) and I’m so glad I did.  The apple filling is perfect because the apples soften just enough but still maintain a small amount of firmness, and the crumble topping is fantastic.  Any dessert tastes just a little better when it’s served in individual portions, and with a scoop of the sour cream ice cream, this was absolute perfection.  I made this in four-ounce ramekins, but individual pie pans or aluminum individual pie pans would also work.  If you want to remove the pie before plating it, butter whatever pan you use before putting the crust into it.  To serve the pie, I warmed these in a 300 degree oven for about fifteen minutes, and served them with the ice cream on the side.  I’m sharing the sour cream ice cream in tomorrow’s post, but if you can’t wait to party like the president, feel free to serve this with your favorite ice cream instead.

inauguration individual apple pie

Inaugural Luncheon Individual Hudson Valley Apple Pies

Ingredients:

for the crust:

  • 6 oz. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 oz. sugar
  • 1/2 lb.  all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. water
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 large egg, lightly beaten (beat one large egg and measure half of it into the bowl)

for the filling:

  • 1 lb. Gala Apples, peeled, cored, sliced thin
  • 3 oz.  sugar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

for the crumble topping:

  • 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl until mixed well.

Add the egg and mix to combine.

Combine the flour and salt in a small bowl, then stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture.

Add the water 1 tsp. at a time until the dough pulls together (it should be smooth, elastic, and not sticky).

Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove the plastic wrap and cut the dough into four equal portions.

Roll each portion out on a floured surface to about 1/4 inch thick.

Carefully place each crust into  (lightly buttered if you plan on unmolding the pies) ramekins, individual ring mold, or individual pie pans about 4 inches in diameter.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

To make the filling combine the apples, sugar, cinnamon, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla in a mixing bowl and stir to mix thoroughly.

Spoon the apple mixture evenly into the four pie crusts, piling the apple mixture higher than the top of the ramekin or pie pan (filling will settle a lot as the pies cool).

Make the crumble topping by putting the flour, sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Pulse three to four times to combine the ingredients, then add the chilled butter to the work bowl.

Pulse the mixture until the mixture resembles wet sand.

Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the four pies.

Place the ramekins onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Remove the pies from the oven and place onto a wire cooling rack.

Serve warm (if pies have cooled prior to serving time, warm them in a 300 degree oven for about 15 minutes).

Makes 4 pies.

Source: Executive Chef Shannon Shaffer, as seen at Obama Foodorama

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