Apple Tarte Tatin or Apple Upside Cake

18 October 2011 § 15 Comments

I love tarte tartin –  plenty of butter and caramelized apples with a flaky, light pastry – how could you not like it? As the story goes a group of hotel guests in France certainly enjoyed it back in 1898.

It may be an urban myth but it is a good one – two sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline Tatin ran the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Bouvron, France. Poor overworked Stéphanie started to make a traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar and burned them. She then tried to rescue the dish by turning upside down. This pleased the hotel guests et voilà the rest is history.

After the success of our Ottolenghi-athon fellow blogger, Kimberli, of The Mackay Way, asked if I would like to make a tarte tatin with her. She had just been apple picking so I naturally cleared my calendar pretty fast.

Here’s how to make it – first melt the butter on the stovetop in an ovenproof dish or pan.

Then add the sugar and arrange the apple slices on top of the butter. Then boil for about 20 minutes.

Put back on the stovetop on a high heat and cook until the apples brown. Then turn over the apple slices and cook the other side until they are golden and caramelized.

Roll out the pastry (a basic pâte brisée – that’s just French for pie dough) and add a dollop of a mixture of more butter and confectioners’ sugar. This makes the pastry flaky and, you guessed right, buttery.

Yes that is more butter and confectioners sugar

Fold the pastry over the butter and sugar lump to make a parcel and put back into the fridge to rest again.

Roll out the pastry parcel and cover the apple dish.

Bake. Then let cool for a out 15 minutes. Turn over and voilà!

This tarte tatin does come with a health warning. I’m not talking about the three sticks of butter, but the caramel. It is hot, hotter than Hades, which I would imagine is pretty hot.

So no matter how tempting it smells, do not try while cooking, or you may find yourself going to the Burns Unit at your local hospital. Also as the caramelization is done on the stove top be careful with small kids around as the smell is guaranteed to get them interested.

For the full recipe with precise ingredients – always useful for baking –  you’ll have to go to Kimberli’s recipe.

I was very happy when I ate their apples

Halloween Squash Souffle

13 October 2011 § 10 Comments

Earlier this summer I randomly met the talented Kimberli Mackay. She is a milliner, cook, gardener and has a really informative blog called The Mackay Way, quite the renaissance gal. I love that there are so many interesting people in our town.

Last week we managed to get together for an Ottolenghi-inspired cookathon that involved making three dishes. These included a spooktacular soufflé, from the book, Plenty, accompanied by plenty of chopping, cooking, talking and, of course, eating in my kitchen.

Kimberli chopping herbs

I’ve had Yotam Ottolenghi‘s book Plenty for a while but have not got around to trying much from it. The book is beautifully shot and is full of tempting vegetable dishes. The recipes are predominantly middle Eastern combined with Mediterranean flavors – spicy, bold and fresh – guaranteed to whip your taste buds into a frenzy. He likes “noisy” flavors, such as lemon and chilli, which are right up my alley. So we meddled, muddled and adapted Yotam’s recipes to suit what we had available in the fridge and the garden.

As it is mid-October we just had to try the Halloween soufflé (read on for the recipe). I felt braver trying a soufflé with company as they can be daunting. I will have to make sure Kimberli is over next time I cook soufflés.

Not so scary Halloween souffles

We also made farro and roasted pepper salad. Farro is the Italian name for an old wheat variety similar to spelt or emmer. It has a delicious nutty flavor that supports the strong flavors of the oregano, paprika, oregano, feta, spring onions and garlic in this robust salad. « Read the rest of this entry »

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