A Harvest Dinner Party

I have a love-hate relationship with fall: I’m giddy over apples and squashes, ecstatic about sweaters and boots, but knowing that snowy, slushy winter is just around the corner always threatens to ruin my good mood. Winter is the worst. Especially for a cyclist in New York, trust me. But, I try to push the thoughts of blizzards out of my mind and live in the moment. And right now, the moment is good. The fruit bowl on my kitchen table is overflowing with pears, figs, apples, squash, beets, and pumpkin. There were a few rogue, late-season tomatoes and tomatilloes at the market this weekend, so I’ve got a couple of those guys hanging out too. There’s plenty of kale and fresh herbs in the fridge, and I’ve stocked up on stock for quick soup-making. Fall produce rules.

To celebrate the bounty, and to welcome an old friend visiting from Colorado, I decided to throw a fall harvest-themed party. On the menu was a marinated kale-and-beet salad, pumpkin lasagna, and my favorite apple pie. Out of the seven guests, four of us are old friends from high school, so there were a lot of toasts and reminiscences. We drank some whiskey shots with pickle brine chasers and got pretty nostalgic. It was a great night and the only complaint I can make is that there were no leftovers. Oh, and everyone pounced on the lasagna so fast that I didn’t have a chance to photograph it. Jerks. So I’ll have to make it again and do it properly before I share the recipe. For now, here’s my go-to dessert when apple-picking season rolls around: brown butter apple pie with thyme.

Brown Butter Apple Pie

For filling:

6 cups tart apples peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
Half a lemon, juiced
1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp thyme, chopped
Pie crust*

Roll out one pie crust and line a 9-inch pie or tart pan. Lightly prick crust all over with a fork. Blind bake the crust at 375º for about 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

In a small saucepan, melt 1/4 cup butter over medium heat. Cook until bubbles start to disappear and the butter turns a light amber hue. Add in the thyme and set aside to cool. Meanwhile, combine apples, sugar, spices, salt, and lemon in a large bowl. When butter mixture is cooled add to apple mixture and combine. Be sure to scrape up all the brown bits of butter as well. Add the filling to the crust. Top with a few whole sprigs of thyme. Bake at 375º for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool completely before serving.

*The linked recipe is for a double-crust but you will only need a single-crust for this pie. I prefer a single-crust here because I get compulsive about perfectly overlapping my apple slices but, you can definitely go the covered route if you choose.