We were going to dig steamers yesterday, but with all the rain, we figured shellfishing would be closed locally, so we headed out to pick apples instead.
In the past we've always gone to orchards in the northern part of the state. This time around, Bill suggested we try the place we'd seen the signs for on Route 4. Yes, that's exactly how he put it. Didn't even know the name of the orchard – we just knew they had signs up, and that, in addition to apples, they had peaches.
So off we went….
We headed south, and when we saw the first of the signs, we also took note of the name of the orchard. It's Narrow Lane Orchard, and it's located in North Kingstown. They don't seem to have a website, but there's a bit of info here in case you're in RI and want to go. I definitely recommend it.
After a tight squeeze through a rather – you guessed it – narrow lane – we passed a small cornfield, a gorgeous house with a huge front porch, a couple dogs and some kids out front, and then we came to the parking area for the pick-your-own orchard.
There was a little building with some small cider presses on display, along with some signs for purchasing eggs or jams.
They offered three different sizes of bags for picking, with accompanying price and weight info as well.
Now it may seem like a small thing, but this set-up was really helpful. (Sorry – no picture) Each different sized sturdy plastic bag was full-to-bursting with apples, so you first had a good visual idea of how many apples you'd be getting. (Or peaches). Next, the approximate weight per bag and price, depending on apples or peaches, was displayed below each bag. So simple, and so helpful.
We bought two of the smallest bags (the kids were picking), and after we had started, Bill went back and got a bag for peaches, too.
I think the small bags for apples were $8.oo, and for peaches they were (I think) $10.o0. This, for about 6-8 pounds of fruit. Perfectly fresh, right off the tree fruit.
The orchard was beautiful. Very nicely laid out with big signs that told you what kind of apples were in each row. The trees not ready for picking were roped off.
They also had a good-sized fenced-in chicken yard containing about 20 or so hens. Julia loved them. I think she'd have been happy just to hang out and watch them instead of pick apples.
Another nice thing about the orchard that Bill noticed – the trees were relatively young, and their branches drooped low, so it was easy for the kids to pick apples.
Alex, though, still seemed to feel the best apples were higher up….
We wandered up and down rows a bit and soon the kids' apple bags were as full as they could get without bursting.
Then it was time, first, to look at a frog in a puddle.
And then we moved on to the peach orchard.
Peaches! I was so excited. I love peaches. And I don't buy them in the grocery stores at all, usually, because they are always shipped from somewhere to the south and they're either not ripe at all and never really will be, or they're mushy and grainy.
And for some (probably dumb) reason, I didn't realize we grew peaches in RI until earlier this summer.
Now I'm wondering if we could put in a peach tree somewhere in our yard….
Anyway, we were as selective as we could be with the peaches. We tried to curb the kids' picking-lust and tried to get them to JUST WAIT til we found a tree with perfectly ripe specimens, but Julia, in particular, was just so happy she could reach the fruit that she just grabbed whatever she could. So we didn't get ALL perfectly ripe fruit, but we got enough.
And then we headed home.
The ride home was filled with the sweet-tart scent of apples, the sounds of crunching, and suggestions as to what I should bake first. Pie? Turnovers? Tarte tatin?
Fortunately, tomorrow's Tuesdays with Dorie selection will make use of some of the fruit we picked. So…what to make for dessert yesterday?
Bill really wanted a tarte tatin. I didn't have any puff pastry dough, and didn't have time to make it, so I used a pie dough recipe instead (Dorie's "Good For Almost Everything Pie Dough") and made the tarte with peaches instead of apples, for a change.
I love the simplicity of a tarte tatin.
First, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
Make sure you have dough chilling in the fridge. Puff pastry is best – it's so dramatic and the contrast between the soft fruit and the crisp layers of pastry is divine – but a pie dough is fine, too. It won't puff up, but it'll still taste good.
Peel and cut your fruit of choice into chunks and set aside for a moment.
Get an oven proof pan and drop in about 4 Tablespoons of butter (I just put some in – no measuring last night)…and about the same amount of sugar. I used light brown. Let them melt together and get bubbly.
Then you place your chunks of fruit in the pan. If you can make it pretty, all the better. If you can't, it doesn't matter – it will taste fabulous no matter what.
(I sprinkled on a bit of cinnamon and some dried ginger, just for kicks.)
Let this all simmer in the pan. Don't stir it or anything, though you may want to move the pan around a bit to make sure everything's cooking evenly.
While this is going on, roll out your dough and trim it in a circle exactly the same diameter as the rim of your pan. (It's also smart to do this beforehand- you can trace the pan if there's nothing in it yet. I am not always smart, so I just cut out a rough circle. It worked.)
Carefully place the circle of dough on the pan and it in the oven.
You might also want to put a rimmed sheet pan on the rack underneath it to catch any drips.
I baked mine for about 20 minutes. It probably could have cooked longer, but I was impatient and I wanted the kids to have some before they went to bed.
The fun part of tarte tatin (besides the eating of it) is the flip.
It's actually not that hard. All you do is put a plate (I like to use a wooden cutting board) face down on top of the pan, then, with the courage of your convictions - as I think Julia Child said in reference to some similar "no guts, no glory" culinary task – you flip the whole thing over so the pan is upside down on top of the plate or board and (if all goes well) the tarte tatin will have landed beautifully with all the fruit arranged just so, and all the caramely sauce oozing around.
A bit of advice – don't forget that the handle of the pan will be hot. You know, because it was in your oven. Not that I've ever accidentally grabbed a blazingly hot metal skillet handle that's been in the oven and yelped in pain. I'm just trying to be helpful here.
Anyway, I let the tarte tatin cool a bit while I got ice cream and plates out. Then I hollered for the husband and kids and started dishing it up.
The pie crust is more tender than puff pastry dough and more prone to crumbling a bit when you transfer a slice from the board to a plate. But then, perhaps I shouldn't have been cutting such large slices…
Alex was effusive in his praise (a far cry from the ribs episode), and Bill thought it was great. Julia ate her ice cream. I don't know about that child.
I thought it was delicious, and am wondering if I am required to share the last of it with anyone since they'll all be at work or at school today.