Golden Delicious Apple Tart

Golden Delicious Apple Tart

My apples come from the organic orchard of my neighbor, from whom I also procure hens’ eggs and incredible honey. This year, his Golden Delicious were the stars. Because they hold their shape during cooking, this variety is perfect for an apple tart and its beautiful spirals of apple slices. Cooked, this apple can have a bland flavor, so this tart includes lots of enhancements that marry well with apples: mainly lemon, cinnamon and nutmeg.

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Pie Crust – All Butter, Flakey & No-Fail

Pie Crust – All Butter, Flakey & No-Fail

For the life of me, I cannot recall where I encountered the first version of the recipe that was to become my gold standard for a pie crust dough. It was not my mother’s or grandmother’s – they made their pastry with lard. It was not Martha Stewart’s or Julia Child’s – they insisted one had to include shortening for flakiness! Somewhere, sometime ago, I stumbled upon a recipe for pie dough that included cultured dairy, probably sour cream. It was a revelation!

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Golden and Very Delicious Indeed!

Golden and Very Delicious Indeed!

My very generous neighbor just gifted me with a full grocery sack of Golden Delicious apples! Now comes the delightful task of considering how I shall use them. Fresh and untouched, this apple remains one of the finest dessert apples there are. However, to cook it requires due consideration for its properties, mainly that it retains its shape. If you are attempting to make a uniform, saucy apple sauce, this is not your apple of choice. The Golden Delicious is also quite sweet, so you’ll want to add plenty of lemon juice if you’re after a sweet-tart note in the finished dessert.

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Clafoutis – A Fruit Dessert Extraordinaire

Clafoutis – A Fruit Dessert Extraordinaire

Here in the Anderson Valley, blackberries can be found in profusion along most back roads and at the edges of fields. Armed with plastic gallon jugs, tops cut off to make a handled carrier, my husband and I head out to our favorite road-side spots to gather blackberries at their peak of flavor, late in summer. Most of them wind up in the freezer, and those that don’t get baked into Blackberry Pie will be served up in mid-winter in a clafoutis.

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The Late Raspberry

The Late Raspberry

Not long after we moved to Boonville, we were gifted with 3 raspberry plants, variety unknown. We chose a site on the property which received a little shade and where the plants would be free to spread. Being a novice at the cultivation of berries, I plunged into my research like a woman obsessed, and hit a wall right out of the gate. Were my raspberries “spring bearing” or “ever-bearing”? Of course, I had no idea.

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Faux Sloe Gin

Faux Sloe Gin

Okay, I was young, barely 21. It was an encounter I shall never forget, with a gum-popping, jovial waitress in a rather cheesy little cafe on the Reno strip. Did we want cocktails with our brunch? She recommended a sloe gin fizz. It was frothy, sweet and had a flavor that haunted me enough to remember this first taste of the sloe when I later encountered the fruit on my first trip to the U.K. in 1980.

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Unsuitable Tomato Sauce

Unsuitable Tomato Sauce

Plato said that necessity is the mother of invention. When it comes to a recipe, necessity doesn’t always produce the finest possible result. So when faced with a bumper crop of tomatoes of every size, color, shape and description, one must find a way to make great tomato sauce in spite of their unsuitability.

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