The first recipe every cook needs to know to make is something I've actually made and posted about briefly before. I don't think I've made an apple pie since then, although I have made "pocket" pies — which also was a while ago.
I'm not going to make one as part of this challenge, as I'm fairly happy with my pie-baking skills. I'm definitely far overdue, however, in whipping up an apple pie, so I will definitely plan on making one in the near future — perhaps the next time I can get to the farmers' market for heirloom apples.
I wouldn't be following Raymond Sokolov's recipe to the letter anyway. His pie crust calls for lard, which not only is a pork product (which I don't eat) but it renders the pie no longer vegetarian. I prefer the all-butter crust. I also like the apple filling to be seasoned with cinnamon, ginger, cloves, or other spices, whereas the book's recipe calls for only sugar.
I think that's part of learning to cook something: understanding that a single recipe may not be the one and final way to make a dish. Even Cook's Illustrated's "master" recipes are not necessarily my master recipes – as evidenced by the fact that their pie crust includes Crisco shortening, which I would never use. As I've said before, one of my favorite methods of cooking something new is to lay out several recipes for that one dish, then pick and choose ingredients and cooking methods that are agreeable to me.
Stay tuned for #2...