Apples to Apples

Apple picking is one of my favorite fall festivities. The smell of cinnamon-y cider donuts, hay rides, and the crisp, chill air are symbols of quintessential autumn. Even at 23 I still get the same thrill of plucking the perfect apple as I did when I was 10. Something about this wholesome activity makes me nostalgic for our family visits to Arnold’s Orchard in Westborough, MA where the apples were plenty and the stinky rabbits in the mini petting zoo even more so.

This past weekend marked our group’s second annual trip to Outhouse Orchards in Croton Falls, NY. After scrambling to catch the train due to a much needed Starbucks run, we were on our merry way out of Manhattan to the “country”. Just over an hour outside the city, it was quite the cultural adjustment for us Manhattanites. Only three cabs in service for the whole town? Impossible! But yes, after a 30 minute wait for one of the three cabs in all of Croton Falls we had FINALLY made it to Outhouse Orchards!

The sweet, sugary smell of cider donuts hit us as soon as we stepped out of the cab. Heaven. Unfortunately, the orchard was entirely picked out of apples, but lucky for us, there was another orchard right across the street that was still ripe for pickin’.

It was quite the struggle at first. We searched high and low for apples, but to no avail. After a frustrating start to the day we made friends with Alessando, an adorable 3 or 4 year old boy who pointed us to where we could find more apples and lent us his picker to reach those at the tops of the trees. He even assisted in picking a few apples for us! (Not knowing if he actually picked these or just took some dirty ones off the ground, we had to toss ’em.) In the end, we wound up with a full satchel of apples, while although on the smaller side, were still beautiful and perfect for cooking… Because really, who actually eats all those apples anyway? Everyone knows the only reason you go apple picking is to make unhealthy things out of them! Apple crisp, apple pie – bring on the carbs and buttah!

So this made the perfect opportunity for an apple-themed potluck. But this was no ordinary apple potluck. No, we had a bounty of unexpected sweet and savory dishes. The menu included:

  • Curried Apple Soup
  • Baked Brie with Apples and Walnuts
  • Butternut Squash and Apple Gratin
  • Apple, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart
  • Apple and Raisin Bread Pudding
  • Apple Pie with Crumble Topping (because you just can’t go apple picking without making an apple pie!!)

Apple picking may be an activity that brings me back to my childhood, but this potluck was a real grown-up affair. Every dish was so delicious and perfectly balanced with the slightest apple taste, that I couldn’t resist a second serving. Leaving happy and with my pants unbuttoned, I was already excited to continue this new fall tradition next year.

Apple, Onion and Goat Cheese Tart

serves a crowd, or 6 hungry girls 

Ingredients:

1 package puff pastry dough, thawed

2 tbsp olive oil

2 small-medium apples, cored and thinly sliced

4 onions, halved and thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese

2 tsp dried thyme

1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot.

2. Add the onion and apples. Stir to coat in the olive oil. Cook slowly until the onions and apples begin to caramelize and become very soft, about 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally to evenly distribute heat.

3. Meanwhile, place puff pastry dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Gently prick dough. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.

4. When the onion and apples are done, gently spread on top of the pre-cooked pastry dough. Sprinkle with goat cheese and dried thyme.

5. Return the tart to the oven at 400 degrees and continue cooking until cheese begins to melt and the tart turns golden brown, about 10 minutes.

6. Allow the tart to cool slightly before cutting into pieces. Serve warm.

Apple, Onion & Goat Cheese Tart
Baked Brie
Curried Apple Soup
Apple Pie with Crumble Topping
Apple Bread Pudding
We love apples!!!
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