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Apron Diaries

With a Little Help From My Friends 
Oct. 2, 2009 1:37 pm 
Updated: Oct. 13, 2009 11:57 am

There's an old saying that goes something like, "Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are." I was reminded of that this morning when I decided to make a French Apple Tart. Sadly, my pantry was missing some of the main players--and it was too rainy outside and too cozy inside for me to change out of my jammies and drive to the store. So I turned to my friends for help.

Did I have apple brandy? No. But I have the last drops of the bourbon from when our friend Garret was in town scouting movie locations 15 years ago. He bought a bottle, drank perhaps half an inch of it, and left the rest with us. Thanks, Garret. We don’t drink bourbon. Our other friends don't drink bourbon. But it has come in handy now and then. For recipes. Yes, that's it.

Did I have apricot jelly for the finishing glaze? No. But I have a small jar of lavender wine jelly put up by my friend Catherine The Canning Queen this past summer. Unlike Catherine, I've been terribly stingy with it, scooping a pale golden taste only once in a while with a demitasse spoon. But I'm willing to give it the equivalent of a Viking funeral by melting it down to brush over the apple tart.

Another friendly hand in this recipe comes from a pal who recently swanned in with a fig tart. She'd made it with packaged puff pastry, and she made it sound so simple I've decided to get over my fear of the stuff and try baking with it, too. So thanks to her, I'll use the box of puff pastry that's been sulking in my freezer for months instead of making the pastry dough in the recipe. And I'm leaving the pastry in its rectangular shape instead of doing a round of dough.

The apples come from another friend--our ancient tree who shades us each summer and feeds us each autumn. Last year it yielded hundreds of apples; so many that I brought bags and bags into the office to share. This year the crop is very small, but there's enough to bake with. "Thanks, tree." "You're welcome, human."

Will this friendship-flavored apple tart work out? It might. It will certainly be quite different from the written recipe. But then my friends are, on the whole, an unconventional lot.

Thanks for dropping by, and please take a minute to say hi and tell me who your friends are—or just share what you've been cooking up these autumn days. That tells a lot about you, too.

French Apple Tart
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The prolific old apple tree.
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Red Gravenstein, perhaps?
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Oct. 2, 2009 10:44 pm
Hello, FD,Your backyard is just lovely! I am glad to hear you have conquered your fear of puff pastry. I would not have tried to make it round either. So it's rectangle, who cares? It looks scrumptious! Thank you for giving us a look see. Take care, Patty
Oct. 3, 2009 11:46 am
Hi there my Foodie pal, I concur with Avon Lady, your tart looks lovely and has a lovely story to share about it's birth. I would assume that all the ingredients made for a delicious tart. As far as what has been cooking in the kitchen here, I'm still in the midst of late summer canning. I've been making various tomato based sauces and one in particular to share with my family is my mothers famous Moroccan Hot sauce. I was fortunate enough to learn to make it when she was alive and have kept it alive for 23 years. This year I made a promise to my youngest daughter that she too was going to learn to make it. Last Saturday we spent an entire day together talking about my memories and stories and creating new ones. All the while, taking pictures of the process for her. The recipe lives on.
Oct. 5, 2009 1:19 pm
Hi Avon and Avon lady. The tart tasted fine, but the bottom of the puff pastry was flat and a bit hard. That's just user error, I'm sure. Maybe if I pre-bake for a few minutes and then top it? I'm going to try another tart, this time with pears.
Oct. 5, 2009 1:22 pm
Avon - I'm always touched by your cooking stories. What a beautiful tradition you are passing along to your daughter.
Oct. 13, 2009 11:57 am
I did pretty much the same thing with a recipe last week. I had no chocolate wafer cookies for the crust, so I used graham crackers that I had. I had no strawberry jam, so I used the raspberry that I did have. I didn't have white baking chocolate, but I did have white chocolate chips. One of greatest joys of cooking for me has been to realize that I have enough knowledge of cooking to change recipes to suit my needs or tastes!
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About Me
Two working adults and a kid in school. Someone has to cook and that someone is usually me. *sigh*
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I cook, they clean up after me. It's the kind of tradition I can fully embrace.
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No one has asked me to stop yet.
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When I was 13, I made pecan rolls for my family. The recipe called for 8 refrigerator biscuits but the package held 10. My mom asked me what I did with the other 2. Judging from the look on her face, "I threw them away" wasn't the right answer.
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