Actress Jessica Collins dishes on life as a chef, shares signature apple crisp recipe
Fictional character Avery Bailey Clark on CBS’ “The Young and the Restless” loves to cook, but she doesn’t hold a candle to the actress and real-life chef who plays her, Jessica Collins.
“Avery’s not as good of a chef as I am,” she laughed. Collins recalled an instance when Avery recorded herself cooking on the show. “I had to keep on saying, ‘I’m not a chef in real life,” which is funny, because I am a chef in real life!” she said. “It was a weird way of working, but it was fun.”
Collins received training from Le Cordon Bleu while she was working as an actress. “Cooking school was just something I said I wanted to do when I had the time, which was never,” she said. “But then a few years ago, I enrolled in night school and I went for a year.”
It was an intense year for Collins. “I didn’t have much of a life,” she said. “I was in school five days a week for six hours a day, and then I’d go for extra credit on Saturdays and have two hours of homework a night. I didn’t have much of a social life, but it was so much fun and really hard.”
Collins said she’s glad her producers have incorporated her love for cooking into the daytime show. “[My executive producer] thought it would be a good thing to show that this is how Avery unwinds,” she explained. “This is how she de-stresses and that’s kind of what cooking has been for me in my own life and my acting career. It’s a nice outlet for me in my personal life, so we incorporated that into the character.”
Collins has her own food blog and video series called Sugared, where she posts recipes and demos of her favorite dishes. She shared her recipe for bourbon apple crisp with Metro readers along with a video demonstration.
Bourbon Apple Crisp
Makes about 8 servings
For the Topping
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup golden brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 sticks unsalted butter , cold and cut up into 1/2 inch squares
For the Filling
3 pounds (about 5 large) apples (use a combination such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Fuji or your own variety based on what’s in season)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup golden brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg*
1 cup dried cherries, (optional)
Place one oven rack on the bottom slots of your oven and place a cookie sheet on rack (this will catch any spill over from your pie dish during the baking process.) Position another rack in the middle slots of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. (Don’t put the cookie sheet directly under the pie dish as this will prevent the bottom of the dessert from cooking evenly.)
For the Topping:
In large bowl, combine the flour, sugars and salt. Mix well.
Add cold butter squares to flour mixture and begin to “pinch” butter into tiny pea-like pieces. Mixture will eventually form into moist crumbles. This will take about 3- 5 minutes by hand.
(Note: This step can also be done using a food processor instead of by hand. Add butter squares to flour mixture in food processor and pulse mixture about 5-7 times until moist crumbles form.)
For the Filling:
Peel and core apples using a peeler or a paring knife.
Slice the apples thin- about 1/8 of an inch thickness- and place in large bowl.
Add the lemon juice and toss to coat apples.
Add the bourbon and toss to coat apples.
Set bowl aside.
In separate small bowl, combine flour, sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Sprinkle over apple mixture and toss till well combined.
Add dried cherries and toss till combined.
In a 9 or 10 inch pie dish, transfer apple filling mixture. Generously add the crumble topping mixture, covering apples completely.
Place pie dish in oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Crisp is done when crumble topping is a beautiful golden brown and the filling is bubbling up around the rim of the pie dish.
Let crisp sit for at least 15 minutes to cool a bit before serving.
Using a large serving spoon, dish out portions and serve warm, preferably with vanilla bean ice cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
*Freshly grated nutmeg can be produced using a very fine grater such as a microplane. If you do not have fresh nutmeg on hand, 1/8 teaspoon of dried nutmeg can be substituted.
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark