We had sort of a sprawling holiday season with our children visiting here and there, skiing in Aspen and Vail, and lots of entertaining in our home. It was such a fun and hectic frenzy filled with lots of love and laughter – just what life should be.
We took my stepdaughter up to Vail and Beaver Creek for her first Rocky Mountain ski experience, which is a far cry from low-altitude east coast skiing that she was used to. What was so much fun was how she embraced the experience, the freezing temperatures, the ski instructors who all scrambled to have her in their class, the unbelievable beauty of mountains and of course, the wonderful après ski dinners. There is nothing like sitting down after a long day of skiing when your muscles are worn, your cheeks are flushed from the sun and cold and your appetite is out of control.
Then my son, Sean flew in from New York to spend the Christmas with us. It is always a treat for me to have my kid in our home where we can relax and chat about life in a more laid back manner then when we are meeting here or there for quick visits. The kid who was straddling that fence between child and adult, leapt off the cliff into the unknown of the big world to find himself and life on his terms. He is my son and will always be my baby, but this person is so fully living his life out loud and in a big way. Funny, stubborn, surprisingly gregarious, and still grumpy in the morning, and I couldn’t be a prouder mother.
In Aspen, Sean, Ric and I hung with my stepfather who has been coming here for thirty years. Now well into his eighties, he has has made it through two traumatic health events; being hit by a semi truck while riding his bike over Independence Pass, and a few years ago, pulling through an illness that required him to undergo four major surgeries (two open heart) within a three-month period. The surgeon told me at one point that he wasn’t sure if Mert would survive. As a friend reminded me, he was a Marine and one tough dude.
Two years after his surgeries, Mert was back on Aspen Mountain taking the gondola to the top and with grace and style, gliding his way down the trails. Always dressed in yellow (because the color makes him feel happy), he is a lesson in perseverance, audacity and an unending curiosity in life. He puts the saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it” to shame. With his beaten and battered body that is held together by steel pins and plates, he carries on and shows us all how to do it.
Last but not least, my stepson, Alex has arrived for his dose of Rocky Mountain bliss on a snowboard. He is getting his share with loads of snow and sunshine, and a few epic wipeouts.
All is good.
One of the desserts I made for a few of our parties was this free-form apple galette. It is so pretty and delicious and a breeze to make.
ORGANIC APPLE & CRANBERRY GALETTE
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
2 pounds organic apples
2 tablespoons cranberry sauce (drained of liquid) or any thick preserves
Butter pastry dough (see the video or read the recipe)
Preheat oven to 375°
Core and peel apples and slice them into 10-12 slices and then toss with lemon juice. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and then sprinkle over the apples and give them a toss until the apples are coated evenly.
Take your chilled dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to a round about 16 inches in diameter.
Line baking sheet with cooking parchment or a silpat. Fold the rolled out dough in half and then again in half so you have a triangle and then carefully transfer dough onto the pan and unfold.
Place the apple mixture onto center of pastry, mounding wedges in a circle, arranging them into a circular pattern if you like. Gently fold edges of dough over apples, pleating as you go, leaving an opening of 3-4 inches in the center. Brush pastry all over with a beaten egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake in 375° oven until pastry is golden brown, apples are tender and the juices bubbling, 40 to 45 minutes.
Transfer galette still on the parchment to a wire rack to cool. Once the tart is cool, move to a large plate, gently pulling parchment from under tart. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.
Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.