Back in the good old days, before everybody went "green", before the housing crisis, the credit crisis and the oil crisis, September and October meant the harvest. It meant a chance to get out in the orchards and pick apples. Sadly, today "U-Pick" is sounding less like a food buying choice and more like your new job description.
As a kid, I remember the entire family travelling to the rolling hills of central Massachusetts to ride on tractors, run among the trees and pick bushels of Cortlands, Northern Spies and Baldwins. The tradition continued when SSSal, WWBob and I would have our own apple picking picnics complete with vichyssoise, country pate and a bottle or 3 of wine. When CrabCakes 1 & 2 arrived on the scene, we showed them the simple joys of cider mills, hot apple donuts, and warm breezes all under a ridiculously blue Minnesota sky.
As Minnesotan, Robert ZImmerman once eloquently sang, "for the times they are a-changin'", they always have and thankfully, they always will. With all the angst and fear out there, now might be a good time to take a deep breath, relax and remember that life, so far, still beats the alternative.
So let's put down the sharp objects, come in off the ledge and do a little cooking. Here's a recipe for a dessert that ConnecticutJane brought to a recent dinner party. It's ludicrously simple and spectacularly flavorful. Breathe deeply and enjoy...
Quick Apple Tart
Bon Apetit, March 2004 with tweaking by ConnecticutJane
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17 oz package), thawed
3 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 TBSP (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 TBSP cinnamon sugar (2 TBSP sugar mixed with scant 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/4 cup apricot jam, melted
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold pastry onto parchment paper.
Using the tines of a fork, pierce a 1/2 in border around the edge of the pastry, then pierce the center. Arrange apples atop the pastry in 3 or 4 rows, overlapping the apples slightly, while leaving the 1/2" border clear (the border puffs up to become a nice edge around the apples).
Brush apples with melted butter; sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, brush melted jam over apples. Bake tart until golden, about 6 - 8 additional minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and (optional) slivered almonds.
See, everything is going to be OK. A simple, inexpensive and tasty dessert. What could be better?
See you in a few days, until then remember, you can do it you can cook.