The benefit to our planet of purchasing locally sourced foods is incalculable both in economic and environmental terms. Supporting local farmers and eating foods that are in season is a wonderful way to be of service to our planet and to support our own health.
I love shopping at local outdoor farmers markets. The fruits and vegetables are grown locally and picked when perfectly ripened. This enhances the taste of the produce and allows it to reach its full nutritional potential since the harvest took place at the peak of the season. I find that the quality differential in taste and texture as well as longevity, between commercially grown foods vs. locally grown foods is immeasurable. If this alone wasn’t enough, buying from farmers markets drastically reduces the environmental impact of food packaging and transportation.
Strolling around a local farmers market is also a wonderful source of free entertainment and is something I enjoy even more than going to a movie! There is nothing more luxurious than spending a leisurely afternoon tasting beautiful seasonal fruits and vegetables, artisan honeys and organic nuts and berries, interacting with farmers, and admiring the artistry of a beautifully displayed produce stand.
Even when shopping at the grocery store, it’s good to be mindful of where your products are coming from by drawing from regional sources and purchasing local, seasonal foods when available. Today I had the luxury of taking my commitment towards conscientious consumerism a step further; I went apple picking!
For weeks I had been eyeing this beautiful apple tart, courtesy of Alice Waters of Chez Panisse. I am a huge admirer of Ms. Waters who is not only a brilliant chef, but is also the founder of the Edible Schoolyard project, which she created as a way to educate young people on how to harvest, prepare, and eat seasonal nutritionally rich locally grown foods.
In honor of her commitment to transforming the way young people in this country are exposed to and have access to food, I used the apples that I picked myself from a local organic apple orchard to bring her tart to life in my kitchen.
Adapted from Alice Waters’ Apple Tart
- For the dough: 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 6 tbsp. unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 1/2 tbsp. chilled water
- For the filling: 2 pounds apples (I picked Spencers, but any tart, firm variety will work)
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
- 5 tbsp. sugar
- For the glaze: 1/2 cup sugar and leftover apple peels/cores
The tart is simple, elegant, and only contains a few ingredients, butter, sugar, flour and salt, and of course, the apples. The supporting ingredients only serve as a vehicle to further showcase the apples in all of their natural glory. I had to resist the urge to add cinnamon and other spices, as most apple recipes I draw from have a much more homey quality. I am so glad that I did, this tart was spectacular and my carefully picked apples spoke for themselves. This would be the perfect dessert to end a hearty Thanksgiving meal, as it’s light enough to not send you over the edge. I served it to my family while home visiting, warm with vanilla bean ice cream, and it was a huge hit. Even with my 9-month-old niece who ate the soft apples sans crust, right off the top of my slice.
1. Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer (I used my Cuisinart) until dough is coarsely mixed. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.
2. Dribble in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Use your hands to mix, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. Keep tossing until you can shape dough into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate for least 30 minutes. After you remove it from the fridge, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick on a lightly floured surface.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400ºF.
3. Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan. (If you want to turn this into a free tart, simply place on a parchment paper lined baking tray).
4. Overlap apples on dough up to the sides if using the tart pan, or two inches from edge if going free form. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold the dough hanging over the edge of the tart pan back onto itself and crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
5. Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. (I only used about 2 tablespoons total on the apples and the crust and it was plenty sweet for me, but feel free to play around with this).
6. Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes).
7. Make glaze: Put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth or small mesh strainer.
8. Remove tart from oven and let cool for at least 10-15 minutes.
9. Brush the sweet apple glaze over tart for a glossy finish. ENJOY!