“I think a lot of professional cooks often are not dessert people,” says Jesse Cool, whose Flea Street restaurant, opened in 1980, is an institution in Menlo Park, California. “When I’m looking for dessert, I’m looking for something a little more savory.” Her Apple-Asiago Pie “came from the simple idea that cheese and fruit are really good together. That’s it,” she continues. “Asiago is creamy and nutty and has a flavor that blends well with apple. So I just decided to put it on top of apple pie.”
Jessie has been whipping up this unexpected yet crowd-pleasing dessert for more than 25 years, and it continues to appear on the Flea Street menu (most recently, alongside a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream). “We took something that everybody loves—apple pie—but added a little twist to it, bringing a curiosity to a traditional dish that works, is still comforting and makes people happy,” she says.
The recipe—which was included in her 2008 cookbook, Simply Organic—has evolved over time, with the version she currently favors shared here.
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (plus extra flour for rolling)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter
½ generous cup sour cream (this is what makes the crust extra delicious)
cold water, if needed
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup grated Asiago cheese (about 4 ounces)
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter; softened at room temperature, then cut into small cubes
6 large crisp apples, such as Granny Smith, Crispin or Gala; peeled, cored and thinly sliced
½ cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flour, thyme and salt. Grate the butter into the flour mixture and mix gently. Add the sour cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, and using your hands, toss with the butter-flour mixture. Do not over work. If the dough is not soft and moist, sprinkle cold water over it until soft and moist. (Wet dough is easier to work with than dry.)
- In another bowl, mix together the topping ingredients until a semi-clumpy texture forms.
- In a large bowl, toss together the filling ingredients.
- On a floured work surface, roll out the pie crust to a 12- to 13-inch circle. Transfer the rolled dough to a pie plate and fill it with the apple mixture. Top with the cheese mixture. Turn under the crust edges and crimp them.
- Bake the pie on the middle rack for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350°. Bake for at least 45 minutes or until apples are soft when tested with a knife. (Cover the top if the apples are not soft, but the crust is browned.)
- Place on a rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 6-8.