Has it really been a month since I blogged? YES. It was a very eventful October. Between moving the little guy to a new school–yup, that happened–more on that later and then the gnarly cold and canker sores brought on by the stress of said events–’twas a busy month. I know that was one long run-on sentence but it’s felt like one long run-on month. And as for the school thing–let’s just say that JJ and the old school were like a pair of mismatched shoes and after much heartache and deliberation (all on our part, the kid was oblivious–he went to one school Friday and another on Monday with nary a reaction) we decided to change shoes one month into the school year . So far, best parenting decision. Ever.
I first fell in love with Apple Hill in 2009 when we went with some friends and I bought freshly pressed apple cider. And apple fritters. With nuts. Without nuts. Apple doughnuts. All apples, all day.
Actually, I fell in love with Apple Hill at this very moment.
It was a cold morning in early November, 2009 and you can feel the hint of frost while still being able to pick apples right off the tree. This is one of the many reasons I love living in California. You drive a couple of hours and you hit mountains and pick apples. Another hour or so, you get snow. And you turn around, drive another few hours and surf. I am very lucky I get to experience this interesting and complex array of microclimates and geographies–all breathtaking.
This past week-end, we once again made the 140+ mile and 2-hour trek to Placerville to meet up with some old friends and even though the weather was close to being unbearably hot, it was still a great time. It’s hard to get one’s brain wrapped around the warmth of braised stews and hearty apple pies to ward off a chilly fall evening when it’s 86 degrees out. But still, it was nice to labor under the delusion of fall when you’re in the midst of apple orchards.
There are about 12 pounds of apples of different varieties on the kitchen counter so I decided to put a dent in it by making an easy apple tart. Tarts are beautiful, tasty and so very easy because of my new culinary BFF, the puff pastry. Puff pastry is good for both savory and sweet dishes–they are my go to for tea parties, breakfasts (see post on Panera souffle) and desserts. They’re versatile, cheap and readily available.
1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry, defrosted
4 small (6 ounce) Granny Smith apples
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, small-diced
3/4 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 4 squares. Divide the pastry between the prepared sheet pans and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baller.
Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples across the pastry and place one slice of apple on each side of the arranged slices. Sprinkle the apples evenly with the sugar and dot them with the butter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. When the tarts are done, heat the apricot jelly until runny and brush the apples and pastry completely with the jelly. Loosen the tarts with a metal spatula so they don’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.