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10-Second Recipes: Three Cheers for July Fourth Cheddar Apple Pie

(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)

By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate

Judith Fertig spent years creating and compiling the greatest the United States had to offer when writing her what is now already classic cookbook, All-American Desserts: 400 Star-Spangled, Razzle-Dazzle Recipes for America's Best Loved Desserts. However, one of her favorites is an old English twist on an American favorite: cheddar cheese accenting apple pie.

It's been a favorite in New England and the Midwest for centuries, but as Fertig notes, stems from England, which is known for both its apples and its cheddar. Fertig prefers Wisconsin-aged cheese atop her patriotic version. In the very easy dessert that follows, she crumbles it in a topping along with flour, butter and sugar. There is no bottom crust.

Thanks to Fertig's research and special touches, her cheddar-topped apple pie has become my favorite Independence Day dessert.

Somewhat similarly, and also an idea that could cause culinary fireworks if you serve it this Fourth of July, Chile Pies & Ice Cream, a Northern California restaurant group Yahoo named among the top pie shops in the country, makes a signature pie. It includes diced chile peppers in the filling. If emulating at home, you could add to either a store-bought pie or a homemade one, but be careful not to touch your eyes during or afterward.

Their next step is either adding shredded cheddar to melt atop within a traditional streusel or right in the crust --- a similar crust is in the tasty recipe below from Joy of Cooking: All About Pies & Tarts.

Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, inexpensive, fun - and fast. The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for creating homemade specialties and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it!


3/4 cup lightly packed grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces, plus an additional 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 pounds Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji or Newton Pippin apples (about 4 medium-large) peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup dark raisins (optional)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
Strained juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup brandy (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves     
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Yields 1 (9-inch) pie; 8 servings.

Combine cheddar cheese, flour and the cold butter. Chop mixture with a pastry blender to the consistency of coarse crumbs, then press together with your fingers and knead in the bowl until a cohesive dough forms. Flatten the dough into a 4-inch disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate until firm but malleable, 30 to 60 minutes. Flour the dough lightly, then roll into a 9-inch round between sheets of wax paper. Slip a rimless cookie sheet beneath the dough and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 F. 

Heat the room temperature butter over high heat in a very wide skillet (not cast iron) until sizzling and fragrant. Add apples. Toss with a wooden spoon until the apples release their juice and are tender, 5 to 7 minutes; reduce heat if the apples begin to color. Stir in raisins, nuts, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, brandy, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves.

Boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the juices thicken to the consistency of maple syrup. Pour the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Peel the top sheet of wax paper off the dough, then flip the dough onto the filling and peel off the bottom sheet. Let the dough soften slightly, then tuck the edges inside the rim of the pan and cut two (2-inch) steam vents. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving. The pie can be made up to 12 hours ahead and warmed in a 350 F oven to 10 to 15 minutes. Good served with vanilla ice cream.

- Joy of Cooking: All About Pies & Tarts

4 Granny Smith apples, cored, peeled, and sliced     
1/2 cup sugar     
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon     
3/4 cup all-purpose flour     
1/2 cup sugar     
1/2 cup finely grated medium-sharp cheddar cheese, preferably aged Wisconsin cheddar     
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature     
Vanilla ice cream, for serving       
Yields 1 (9-inch) pie; 8 servings.

Preheat oven to 400 F.

To prepare filling: In a large mixing bowl, combine apples, sugar and cinnamon. Put the filling into a 9-inch pie pan.

To prepare topping: Mix flour, sugar, grated cheese and butter together with your fingers in a medium-size bowl until crumbly. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the apple filling. Bake until browned and bubbling, 45 to 55 minutes. Let cool, then slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

- All American Desserts: 400 Star-Spangled, Razzle-Dazzle Recipes for America's Best Loved Desserts.

QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK: Did you munch through your home-cooked taco recipe repertoire long ago? Would you even dream that there might be 300 various types of easy tacos you could prepare? Kelley Coffeen's 300 Best Taco Recipes is a favorite of mine due to the unending innovation. It's a good go-to if choices like gingered short rib tacos, green chili stew tacos and pulled pork tacos with honey mustard glaze whet your appetite.

Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on
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