It’s beginning to look like autumn…

This Sunday we took the boys apple picking at Carrigan Farms just up the road in Mooresville. What a perfect, almost-autumn afternoon we had! We began with a picnic under one of the big shade trees near the parking lot. After filling our bellies, we ventured out to fill our ½-peck bags full of apples!

The stroll up the dirt path through the orchard was picturesque. Rows of apple trees laden with huge, ripe red fruit lined one side of the path, while gentle hills with a swimming quarry lay off in the distance to the right. As you reach the end of the orchard, there’s even a small petting zoo complete with a cow (named Daisy), a pony, three little piggies, a mama hen and baby chicks, and a few goats to boot.

The farm also offers fresh cider and local honey, and soon enough it will be time to explore the pumpkin patch. We purchased some honey, paid for our peck and headed back to Charlotte to put our haul to good use. I have a great recipe for a rustic hand-formed apple tart and had this in mind all the way home….

Here’s what we started with:

The Woodford Reserve is a little somethin’ somethin’ I added to the frangipane to give it some extra tasty goodness. You can skip the booze altogether, or you can add another one of your choice. Myers Rum and Disoranno almond liqueur work nicely. I just add a splash or two when I add in the vanilla.

I love this tart recipe because the dough is so forgiving! It turns out wonderfully every time, regardless of how much I might inadvertently manhandle it – and I was particularly rushed Sunday afternoon, yet the dough performed beautifully. Though it’s always best to be as gentle with your dough as possible, truth is life gets in the way and it’s nice to have a recipe thats nearly foolproof.

Here’s the tart after I’ve placed the apples and dried cherries (I typically add a contrasting dark fruit for color and some tartness). I also diverged from the recipe by drizzling melted butter on the apples and brushing it on the crust in lieu of cream. I added some cinnamon to the sugar and sprinkled large sugar crystals on the crust for added crunch and subtle sparkle.

Off to the ovens, and the result was….

…rustic, stunning and oh-so-tasty! I hope you’ll give this recipe a try with some of the abundant local produce we’re so fortunate to have at the ready here in the Charlotte area. You can sub just about any fruit that’s not too watery – pears or peaches would be especially lovely with the frangipane.

Support your local farmers when you can, and you will be rewarded with the freshest tasting creations. You really don’t need to fancy it up too much when you start with the best produce, highest quality butter and a little bit of love.

I’m planning to use the same dough recipe, minus the sugar and frangipane, and create an onion and Gruyere tart one evening soon for supper. Served with a nice peppery arugula + pear salad, it’ll make a perfect weeknight meal.

Bon appétit!

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