Do you pick up cookbooks when you travel?

I never have, but when I went to Maine for the food-blogging trip I wrote about yesterday, our sponsors, the Maine Office of Tourism and the Schooner J.& E. Riggin, sent each of us home with several books, including one of my new favorites, Annie Mahle’s “Sugar & Salt, Book One.”

Annie’s a chef who owns and operates the Riggin with her husband, Capt. Jon Finger, so they spend half the year at home and half at sea. It’s a lifestyle that’s so different from mine, but when I read about Annie and the crew sitting “around the wood stove warming themselves with bowls of apple crisp and hot mugs of tea” while the freezing cold rain beats against the boat, I’m right there.

And I want a bowl of that Apple Crisp.

I finally made some this morning, and this is no ho-hum apple crisp. It’s the best I’ve ever had.

You start by piling your apple slices into a big pan. Then sprinkle on some sugar mixed with cinnamon and cloves, and get to work on what really sets this apple crisp apart: the pecan topping. It’s just butter, flour, sugar, salt and pecans, but it gives this crisp the salty crunch it needs to balance the sweetness of the apples.

And it stays crunchy the next day. Beyond that, I can’t make any promises …

Serve it warm with a big scoop of vanilla to “cut the sweet,” as Mommaw says. And think about picking up a cookbook from the town you’re in the next time you hit the road. I know I will.


Apple Crisp with Pecan Topping

From Annie Mahle’s “Sugar & Salt, Book One”

Makes 15 servings

    Filling:

  • 3 pounds tart apples
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
    Topping:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Peel, core, and slice the apples into 1/4-inch wedges, and toss them with the lemon juice.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and spices, and sprinkle over the apples.
  4. Spread the apples evenly in an ungreased 9-by-13-inch pan.
  5. In a separate bowl, cut the butter into the flour until the mixture is coarsely blended. Mix in the sugar, salt, and pecans. (The mixture should be crumbly.)
  6. Place the topping on top of the apple mixture, and bake for 45 minutes or until the top is browned and the liquid in the apples is dark. Serve warm with ice cream.