brown butter apple pie-tart

When we went apple picking at Harbes Farms, I thought 1/4 peck didn’t sound like it was really that many apples. Granted, I’m working with double that but still, I’ve been surprised just how few apples most recipes require and how many, at this point, I still have left! Of course, going apple picking again this past weekend in Vermont didn’t help with the apple situation, but that’s another story.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to make an apple tart with more of these apples for date night. It seemed perfect timing that I received a great looking recipe from Tasting Table for a Brown Butter Apple Tart. Since I actually don’t have a tart pan and didn’t want to be the grand hold up on dinner, I ended up simplifying, skipping making my own crust and using a crust from the store. It’s hard to feel guilty about this shortcut when your store carries crusts made entirely from Nilla Wafers.


  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 vanilla bean (halved lengthwise, scrapping out the seeds from the pod with the tip of a knife)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 semi-tart apples

First, you’ll need to make the filling. To do so, you’ll whisk together the eggs and granulated sugar. Separately, heat the sticks of butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Once the butter is melted, add in the scraped vanilla seeds as well as the vanilla bean pod. Keep stirring the mixture over the heat until the butter foam begins to subside and turns a deep golden color (rougly 5 minutes).

Remove the saucepan fromt he heat and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove the pod halves and then whisk the butter into the original egg-sugar mixture. (Full disclosure: I accidentally didn’t keep the egg/sugar separate from the butter/vanilla bean. While I didn’t get quite the same brown butter effect, I kept going and the tart was quite good. If you mess up something, keep on going!)

Then whisk in the flour and salt, whisking until the mixture is smooth.

Next, you’ll need to cut the 3 apples into rings. The best apples to use are something like Granny Smith, Braeburn, or Pink Lady. The apples need to be peeled, cored, and thinly sliced (ideally into ¼-inch thick rings). I can only assume this would be infinitely easier if you happened to own an apple corer. I, naturally, do not. No big deal, right? Wrong. This made coring and slicing the apples a bit more difficult. Arrange the sliced apples into a an overlapping concentric circle. Add a few apple at the center as well. I’ll admit that when I did this I looked at the apples, neatly situated in the pie crust, and assumed this was going to be one ugly pie-tart.

But fret not. The filling magically filled in the gaps and covered over the non-uniformly sliced apples. Finally, you’ll slowly pour the prepared filling over the sliced apple. Since the filling is a bit thick, allow time for it to make its way through the spaces between the apple slices to make sure you don’t overflow. Stop once the filling reaches ¼-inch from the top of the crust.

Place the pie-tart on a baking sheet in the oven, baking until the colof of the apples is deep golden-brown. Make sure the center of the pie is also set and that the filling does not move when the pie is jostled. This should take around 1 hour. Once it is done, remove the baking sheet and the pie-tart from the oven, transferring it to a surface to cool for 2 hours. It’s lovely served with simple vanilla bean ice cream.



homemade apple butter and harbes farm

It’s become tradition the last four years that it’s not truly fall until a trip to Long Island happens – four friends escaping the city for a day of  fall fun. There’s brunch, cider donuts, tastings at North Fork wineries, and a corn maze. This year though, the trip came early enough that there was a new option – apple picking.

I can’t recall ever having been, though I’ve long had a fondness for apple season (likely due to it coinciding with my birth month, which I believe every kid automatically loves). I’ll admit, from the setup, I wasn’t sure how fun it would be for us adults. We arrived at Harbes Farm and were surrounded by strollers and children, one who thought it was funny and cute somehow to reach up and grab my rear as we waited in the super long ride to be taken around and into the orchard.

The line managed to move relatively quickly. We were set loose into our permissible rows (only certain rows are opened at a given time in an attempt to ensure the orchard is not completely ravaged). Thankfully, they opened an additional row while we were there as the rows up to that point were bare, with almost all of the apples decorating the floor.

We ended up with roughly 16 apples. So many apples to put to use! The first thing on my “to make” list was a no-brainer: apple butter. Growing up, this was an annual thing in our house. Homemade is in fact way better than anything you can buy in the store. My parents would make a batch, freeze it into smaller containers, which we’d then thaw and use over time. It lasts quite well and it’s perfect with fresh buttermilk biscuits.


  • 6 pounds of tart apples
  • 4 cups of cider or apple juice (plus extra, in case – see below*)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

I don’t have an apple corer, so I started by peeling and cutting the apples into slices. The original recipe I used (same my parents have used) intended to make the apple butter extremely smooth. I prefer it a bit chunky, highlighting the fresh flavor of the apples, so I prefer this rendition. Cook the apples in the juice (I used apple juice) until they are soft. This will take around 30 minutes.

Then boil for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point, you’ll need to stir in the sugar and the spices.

Cook and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Reduce to a gentle boil, stirring freqently until you reach the desired thickness.  The recipe claims this should be around an hour, but I found this to be much less as I halved the recipe.

The apple butter will thicken once it cools, so take the pot off of the heat and watch as it cools. *If it thickens too much, use additional apple juice to thin it out, adding and stirring in gradually. Allow to fully cool before you can or preserve (I freeze mine in small containers, which I then heat up when I wish to consume).

Group & action shot courtesy of Joey Pasion.

apple fritter rings

Every year for my dog’s birthday I throw a brunch. It’s just a nice excuse to have people over, cook up some great food, and catch up. Perfect. I’d found this recipe for apple fritter rings in Martha Stewart’s Everyday magazine around the holidays and had been waiting to try it.

I learned how to core an apple by hand (not hard – just takes a bit of time and patience). I also learned that an apron with bubbling oil is a wise choice (ooops) and that coated fried apples? Kind of amazing. One friend said I’d brought the county fair to my apartment in Brooklyn. Yes!

In Mid-Fry

In Mid-Fry


  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon group cinnamon
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil plus 2 cups for frying
  • 2 large eggs lightly beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 medium tart apples – cored, peeled, & cut info 1/2 inch thick rings

In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and the cinnamon. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, 4 teaspoons oil, and eggs. Slowly stir in the flour, 2 tablespoons of sugar, baking powder, and salt.

In a large, heavy, high-walled skillet (I used a tall cast iron one), heat 2 cups oil until it registers 375 degrees on a deep fat or candy thermometer. You’ll know it’s there because it’ll rapidly boil once you drop the batter in.

In batches, coat the apple rings in the batter and fry them until they’re a golden brown. This will vary a bit but should be around 4 minutes per batch, with you flipping the apples midway through the cook time.

Transfer the apples to a towel-lined plate or baking sheet to drain. Toss them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture and serve. Yields about 20.