not perfect, and a recipe for apple tart

apple tart | the merry gourmet

I am not perfect.

My temper is sometimes short, and I don’t have much patience. I am stubborn, and I like to be right. (I get these traits from my father.)

Even though I love to bake cakes, I rely on store-bought birthday cakes because they’re easy. Also, I think Publix makes the best frosting. It’s so sweet it makes my teeth hurt, and I love it. I’ve been told that I don’t want to know what Publix puts in that frosting. It’s true. I don’t. But serve me up a slice, and I’ll contemplate a second, but only if I can have an end piece, with extra frosting.

My children eat cereal for breakfast nearly every morning. On weekends, I’ll sometimes make scrambled eggs and toast for the kids, because toast and eggs are easy. But even though my son loves bacon, I don’t often make it. It seems to take too long (I know that it really doesn’t), and I don’t like taking greasy bacon out of the package. It feels disgusting. Also, I’m lazy on Saturday and Sunday mornings. I’d rather someone make me breakfast.

I drink my coffee – just one cup – with skim milk and Splenda. I know I shouldn’t use Splenda. I’ve read the negative press. I plan to stop using it, but not today, and probably not tomorrow either. On weekends, I splurge with fat-free vanilla Coffee Mate. I love the idea of cream and sugar in my coffee, but I tell myself I can’t justify the fat and calories.

I often dread cooking weeknight dinners. At the end of the workday, all I want to do is sit on my front porch and read a magazine. Or sit on the sofa and catch up with social media and blog reading and the days’ news. Or watch television with my kids. I just don’t want to be on my feet anymore.

Despite my exhaustion (or laziness), we still eat dinner together most nights. We just eat simply, never anything fancy. And sometimes, on a Friday or Saturday night, we all eat in front of the television instead of at the dining room table.

I rely on my slow cooker at least two nights per week, and leftovers usually cover another two nights. When leftovers don’t sound appetizing, we order takeout Chinese or burritos. On Friday nights, we often order takeout pizza. I make a darn good pizza with a fantastic homemade crust, and now that we’ve been using the baking steel on the Big Green Egg, our pizzas are even better. But on Friday nights, I just don’t have the energy.

I am really just a weekend cook, no matter how it looks here in cyberspace.

I don’t always buy organic or locally grown, and I confess that I have judged someone for using pancake syrup rather than maple syrup. I also confess that I grew up using pancake syrup and never owned a bottle of maple syrup until about 5 years ago. We also still have a half-empty bottle of Aunt Jemima in the pantry.

I am trying not to be so judgmental. It’s something I’m working on.

I am not perfect, but I am working on being a better person. I intend to be better.

I made this apple tart this weekend, and I wanted it to look perfect. It doesn’t. I tried slicing the apples using my mandoline. When I realized that I was going to slice off a finger, I gave up and switched to using a knife. I tried arranging the (uneven) apple slices into a beautiful, perfect rosette. When that failed, I simply stuck apple slices into the tart wherever I thought they’d look best.

We ate this tart during our weekly family movie night. This week’s movie was Beetlejuice. It’s rated PG, so we thought it would be a perfect choice, appropriately Halloween-themed. There is one f-word, about two-thirds of the way in. When we heard it, my husband and I looked at each other, eyes wide, and then we looked at the kids to see if they noticed. Their mouths were full of warm apple tart and vanilla ice cream, and they laughed at the next funny part in the movie. I smiled at them, and at my husband, and I took another bite of my not-so-perfect apple tart.

Yield: 8 servings.

Apple Tart

You could make things easy on yourself and use a store-bought rolled pie crust for this recipe, but I think it’s more fun to make the dough from scratch. It’s messier, for sure, but occasionally it’s okay to get messy. If you’re talented with the mandoline, feel free to slice your apples very thinly on that device. Otherwise, just use a sharp knife and a steady hand, like I did.


Ingredients for Crust:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled & diced
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Ingredients for Filling:

1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2-1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples (about 6 apples), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup apricot jam


Make Crust:

Combine flour, powdered sugar, and salt in a food processor; pulse until blended. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg yolk, pulse a few times, and then add heavy cream. Pulse until moist clumps form. Turn dough out onto a work surface, gather into a ball, and press into a disk shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour or overnight.

Prepare Filling:

Whisk together the light brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Toss with the sliced apples until evenly coated.

Assemble Tart:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough into a 13-inch circle. Transfer the dough to an 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim the overhang even with the top of pan sides. Arrange apple slices in a circular pattern in the pan (or, if you get frustrated, just spread them out evenly in the pan). Dot the top of the apples with the diced tablespoon of butter.

Bake tart until the apples are tender, about 65-70 minutes. Remove from oven. Heat apricot jam in a small saucepan. Strain jam through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Brush top of tart gently with the warm apricot jam. Let tart cool to room temperature, then cut into wedges and serve.

Inspired by this apple tart recipe.

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13 Responses to “nearly thanksgiving, and a recipe: individual apple crisps”

  1. 1
    Amy @ The Nifty Foodie — November 26, 2013 @ 9:24 am

    I can’t imagine how hard this is on your family right now. 🙁 Sending good thoughts your way, and I’m hoping that your family still has a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  2. 2
    Robin — November 26, 2013 @ 11:16 am

    Make the potatoes and celebrate your dad. This is my first Thanksgiving without either of my parents; my dad died 3 1/2 years ago and my mother just this past March. Last year, I made Thanksgiving dinner for my sisters, brother-in-law, Mom and her caregivers (she and one sister lived together and I hired 24/7 aides to help). This year, it’s just the one sister and me, but faced with the alternative of going to restaurant, I am reprising our normal Thanksgiving meal, complete with my mother’s stuffing recipe.

  3. 3
    Paula — November 26, 2013 @ 11:44 am

    I love individual desserts and your apple. risks look wonderful. I’m sorry that your Thanksgiving celebration will happen without your Dad there. I can imagine how much his presence will be missed. If you do decide to make is mashed potatoes, perhaps saving some and taking a plate of warmed leftovers to him the next day will help. Food has the power to trigger long lost memories and you just never know. It certainly won’t be the same as having him present at your Thanksgiving table but you will have shared part of the holiday with him in a little way.
    I wish you and your family a blessed Thanksgiving.

  4. 4
    Katy — November 26, 2013 @ 12:01 pm

    I’m in hopes you bought cream cheese…it’s a great tribute to your Dad…no matter where he is…your heart will be blessed. Blessings and Love to you and yours, Katy

  5. 5
    Gudie — November 26, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    I know what a heavy heart you must have, my mother passed away last year before Christmas, so I can relate to your feelings. Make the potatoes, and like Paula said, bring your father a small plate the next day. You might get a smile, and that will be worth more than anything, those are the moments we can cherish. Happy Thanksgiving you and your family

  6. 6
    Jennifer — November 26, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    Hi Merry – I love reading your posts, and I especially appreciate your sharing of your thoughts about your dad. My mom fought valiantly against her dementia for just as long as she possibly could. I feel your pain. I vote yes on making your dad’s mashed potatoes in his honor. We can’t change the hand we’re dealt, and you have such good memories of him and those mashed potatoes. I believe it will actually make you feel better that you did make them. Wishing you and your family a happy Thanksgiving. Jennifer

  7. 7
    Eileen — November 26, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    Dinner sounds delicious! But don’t shy away from those yummy mashed potatoes. Include them on your menu and celebrate what your dad brought to your families table each Thanksgiving 🙂

  8. 8
    Boyce D. George — November 26, 2013 @ 3:55 pm

    I’ll be thinking about your dad this week as well. This is my favorite holiday and I often think of my own mom and dad during this time. Yes, fix those mashed potatoes. We’ll be celebrating at Angela’s and all of us will be together. This is, by far, my favorite holiday.

  9. 9
    Macaroni Mama — November 26, 2013 @ 6:07 pm

    Please fix the mashed potatoes. Love you, girly!

  10. 10
    Carlinne @Cook with 2 Chicks — November 27, 2013 @ 8:20 am

    This apple crisp looks delicious. I love more crisp than fruit, too. I hope sharing a Thanksgiving meal with your family helps heal the sadness and void of your father not joining you. Maybe the ritual of making the mashed potatoes, while thinking of him, will bring you a bit of comfort. Either way, I hope you enjoy the time with your family!

  11. 11
    Trish — November 30, 2013 @ 6:51 am

    I hope that you fixed the potatoes.

  12. 12
    Nutmeg Nanny — December 3, 2013 @ 11:19 am

    Apple crisps were always my absolute favorite when I was growing up 🙂 I love this recipe and can’t wait to give it a taste!

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