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.