We have had such a spell of wet, cool weather that many of us are wondering what this summer will be like. Is this a sign of things to come? We sure hope not. Etched in our memories is the summer when it seemed as though it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, and blight struck the tomatoes hard. A summer with no fresh tomatoes is a miserable summer. Their reign of glory is brief but oh so welcome. In Maine, we do have greenhouse tomatoes from Backyard Farms in Madison. They’re not bad—better than what is usually found in grocery stores when tomatoes aren’t in season—but greenhouse tomatoes certainly can’t compete with tomatoes grown outside in the good earth.
This weekend, between showers, my husband, Clif, and I managed to go to the transfer station, where we could dump brush into a giant pile waiting to be composted as well as pick up some of the rich, black humus from a pile that has been composted. Unfortunately, because of all the rain, that area was a mud pit, and we couldn’t park too close to the compost. This meant slogging through the mud with our heavy, compost-filled garbage cans. What fun we had! We were just grateful that it didn’t start pouring until we had returned home, taken the garbage cans from the car, and cleaned the muddy mess left behind in the car boot. We gardeners certainly live on the edge.
However, all was not doom and gloom this weekend. On Saturday, our friends Jim and Dawna Leavitt invited us over for dinner, and they served us grilled wild salmon with a white sauce and chopped egg. I will admit that this is the first time I have had this traditional Yankee dish, and I am also not ashamed to admit that I loved it. Really, I could have lapped the plate. The moderately strong taste of the salmon blended so well with the white sauce and the eggs. A milder fish, such as haddock, would have needed some cheese in that sauce, but not the salmon. Just thinking about the salmon with white sauce and eggs makes me want more, and it was certainly the best meal we had all week.
Then, on Sunday, our friends Kate and Bob Johnson stopped by for a visit. I was able to lure them to Pete’s Roast Beef for the incredible roast beef sandwiches, but I also wanted to make a little something to serve at home with tea. My daughter Shannon is a big fan of frozen puff pastry, and it is very good indeed. For some reason, I had never used any, but I just so happened to have a box in my freezer. I also had apples in the refrigerator, brown sugar, and cinnamon. In other words, the fixings for a dessert that was not only simple to make but tasty as well. From finish to end, which included 40 minutes to thaw the dough, this dessert was made in about an hour’s time, with 10 minutes devoted to slicing the apples, mixing them with sugar, and arranging them on the puff pastry. If there is an easier, more delicious dessert, then I haven’t had it.
Apple tart with puff pastry
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry
4 small apples, or 3 medium, cored and sliced very thin
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
A pinch of salt
Remove one sheet of puff pastry from the box, and, without unfolding, let it thaw on the counter for 40 minutes. While the puff pastry is thawing, core and slice—as thin as you can—the apples and place them in a mixing bowl. Combine the sugar, cinnamon, and salt and mix with the apples. Do this enough in advance so that the apples and brown sugar can sit for a bit so that apples are really coated with the sugar. When the puff pastry has thawed, unfold and cut it in half the long way. Put the two halves on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and arrange the apple slices so that they overlap and leave a nice edge. Bake in a preheated 425° oven for 18 to 20 minutes. Serve with either whipped cream or ice cream. While serving this type of dessert warm is always best, the apple tart is perfectly good served cold as well.