Sunday, October 20

taking the farm to table literally and offering two homemade tart recipes & tabletop inspiration after apple picking!

On a crisp fall day 
way out east in Long Island, 
taking the farm-to-table 
concept to heart...
after picking apples straight from the trees 
we headed home to whip up 
two homemade tarts.  
 citrus apple tart
a raspberry, hazelnut, honey tart

At the risk of sounding preachy, let me suggest you make the kids put their cell phones down one weekend afternoon this season, maybe forget the routine, and take a few moments to head on over to your favorite farm.  No matter what age the whole family lights up when you get around a pumpkin patch.  With Gabby home for a break from her first month away as a freshman at college, we relished every moment together.  When children are young it takes very little to entertain them, but teenagers are a different story.  I notice when we spend time in nature somehow they forget about their distractions. 

It was perfect timing because, to me, October is the the best season in the east coast.  With the bounties of the farms overflowing with beautiful, jewel toned wonders it can be a wonderful experience.  Let's get inspired by fall and the beauty that abounds.  After tasting some of the local, artisan made cheddar cheese and nibbles, grappling over which three large gourds and pumpkins to choose, we headed over to the grassy lanes of the apple orchard to fill our bag with a cornucopia of fruit.  

 from the farm to our table...
for dinner:  
a delicious slow roasted beef, potatoes and carrots 
(all in one pot).  Recipe to follow here soon, but today it's all about the tarts and table setting!   
We set the table with the gorgeous gourds and played up the colors.  To decorate the table more we added a bowl of crisp just-picked apples in an antique bowl, some crimson candles in turned antique candles sticks, an indigo cotton runner from Williams Sonoma, Annie Selke wool blue and cream placemats, Spode blue and white plates, small antique Blue Willow plates, and Indian print napkins with white porcelain.
I truly believe is we should relish our daily meals -- treat every day like it's special. Nobody to impress?  Not a big crowd?  No, it's just a wonderful celebration of company...beautiful colors, delicious food and makes everyone enjoy the meal that much more. Sometimes an alluring table is set the simplest. You don't need to use elaborate flower arrangements but it can be the unexpected arrangement of bowls of fresh fruit, vegetables and combining unusual pieces from your china closet.  Don't be afraid to creatively mix and match plates and linen patterns.  
  that is not to say we have to create every meal from scratch in order to eat well, and with our collective busy lives, let's accept that sometimes we may need to cut corners in order to not feel overwhelmed.  But, for starters, a pretty set table sets the tone and only takes a couple of minutes.  
Take a look at my tart recipes
starting with one pack of Pillsbury pie crust 
(enough for both tarts)
I make tarts often, and when I have the extra time I make the crust homemade, but there are times the store bought pie crust (found in the refrigerator section and rolled) is perfect.  That small extra time saver is a realistic approach with balancing spending time with the family, a busy day visiting the farm, then preparing the meal.  When using the store bought crust, these easy to make tarts only took a few minutes to prepare.
My Apple Citrus Tart
one pie crust 
(unroll and let sit at room temperature while cutting apples)
three large apples -- use three different apples
(peeled, sliced very thin & given a fresh lemon squeeze to avoid turning brown)
1 TBS orange marmalade w/curd
(I use French brand, Bonne Maman)
3 pats of butter
handful of dark brown sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon
the juice of a half of an orange
squeeze of a lemon
key to making a successful tart is to pre-bake the crust a few minutes so it cooks to a dark golden brown the second bake.  While pre-baking, peel and cut the apples very thin. A tart should be thin and flavorful but not as juicy and gooey as a pie.  Unroll the round crust on a cutting board, and with a pastry or pizza cutter cut square.  Use the extra strips of pastry to edge all four sides of the tart.  Bake for 5 minutes at 350 degrees until golden.  Remove from the oven and once cooled slightly spread the marmalade throughout.
After slicing the apples, toss with orange juice and cinnamon. Layer the sliced apples in the tart and sprinkle the brown sugar and butter on top and bake in the oven again for about 25 minutes, or until dark golden brown.  Sometimes I broil the top of the tart for the last few minutes caramelizing to a dark brown top.  
My raspberry, hazelnut and honey tart
one pie crust 
(unroll and let sit at room temperature for five minutes)
3 TBS hazelnut spread 
(I use Noisella Belgian spread 
from Pain de Quotidien)
confectionary sugar (sprinkle)
Again, prepare the pastry the same way as the apple but bake longer the first time until brown and crispy looking (for about 25-30 minutes until dark golden brown -- this will only cook once).  Take out of the oven and cool for five minutes.  Spread the hazelnut butter throughout the bottom of the tart. Delicately arrange the raspberries standing upright in neat rows on top of the hazelnut spread, then lightly drizzle with very think bits of honey, and end with a dusting of confectionary sugar.  In summer, I add a bit of fresh peppermint or basil strips on top.  This one is very easy, and when serving to guests it impresses!
note:  all the photographs in this post are my own
(check out my Bounties of Fall Pinterest board
for more photograph inspiration)
Happy Nesting 
XO Tamara