The summer after I graduated college, I moved to Burlington, Vermont. I'd wanted to live in New England for a long time, had a job lined up, but other than my future boss who'd I'd talked to on the phone a few times, I didn't know a soul. I was excited about a new adventure, but was sad and scared to be leaving the close creative community my college friends and I had formed.
On the first day of my job in Vermont, I met my soon-to-be-good-friend Angela, who that night brought me to an event that just about immediately overhauled my Vermont life-- The Seamonster Potluck.
I don't know the exact details of how it started, but I do know it had always been hosted by my other soon-to-be-good-friends Meghan and Gahlord, occurred on the third Thursday of every month, and would quickly become a foundation for my entire social life and serve as the gateway to best friends, the forming of multiple bands, a shared studio space, and many, many epic parties.
The Seamonster Potluck taught me the power of a small, simple gathering of people coming together to break bread. It's a lesson I can sometimes forget in the chaos of daily life, but one I've kept coming back to since I moved away from that fair city on Lake Champlain.
A few weeks ago, my friends Morgan, Dalila and I hosted a similar simple potluck, with the help of some local businesses and a very game group of guests. From the Farmer generously donated boxes of local produce to all attendees who were up for cooking a homemade dish to share, and other guests were charged with bringing a local product of their choice, whether it be DC Brau Public Ale, Gordy's pickles, or Dolcezzo Salted Caramel Gelatto. West Elm DC offered their place settings and mercury glass table décor while DeVinos lent a hand on the wine-front.
Morgan and Mitchell graciously offered to host the gathering in their cool Adams Morgan apartment, already well-stocked with 2 essential mood makers-- Christmas lights and good records. Guests' dishes complemented each other for a hearty winter meal-- we had French onion soup and mushroom-almond tapenade, parmesan celery spread and a local baguette, marinated broccoli with soft-boiled farm eggs, a butternut squash and apple tart with stilton and quinoa, sausage-pumpkin-spinach salad, and much more. I made a savory mushroom-gruyère tart, and a simple salted butter apple galette with maple whipped cream, adapted from Bon Appetit.
Salted Butter Apple Galette with Maple Whipped Cream
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Nothing in the House pie crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) salted butter
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 pound (about 3 large) baking apples, washed and sliced 1/8-inch thick
3 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons maple syrup, grade B
1. Prepare Nothing in the House pie crust as per the directions. Chill dough in the fridge at least one hour. Meanwhile, prepare the salted butter glaze.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place butter in a small saucepan and scrape in vanilla seeds; add pod. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns (be careful not to burn), 5-8 minutes. Remove pan from heat and remove pod.
3. Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface into a rough 14x10-inch rectangle about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Arrange apple slices on top, overlapping and leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Brush apples with brown butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Lift edges of dough over apples, tucking and overlapping as needed to keep rectangular shape.
4. Beat egg with 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl and brush crust with egg wash. Sprinkle with granulated sugar and bake, rotating once, until apples are soft and juicy and crust is golden brown 40-50 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet before slicing.
5. Beat cream in a medium bowl to medium soft peaks. Fold in maple syrup and serve with galette.
The dinner party was reminiscent of those best Seamonster potlucks-- really the way all dinner gatherings should be-- relaxed, delicious, and oh so cozy, with an overall feeling of warmth-- from the conversation, candles, AND red wine.
Big thanks to Morgan Hungerford West and Mitchell West for hosting, Dalila Boclin for coordinating, Cortney Hungerford for photography, all our awesome guests, and local partners-- From the Farmer, West Elm DC, DeVinos, and DC Brau.
Head on over to Panda Head for MORE.
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