Tag Archives: rustic

Autumn Apple Tarte Tatin

I can’t believe it’s nearly October, and I haven’t posted a tarte tatin recipe. If you follow this blog, you well know that I love tarte tatins, the upside down-versions of fruit tarts – oodles of caramel required. In the late summer I make tarte tatins with stone fruit, practicing, anticipating the impending fall season with apples and pears. Apple Tarte Tatin is the quintessential version of this inverted squidgy pastry, named, as legend has it, for the French Tatin sisters who forgot to begin with the pastry when assembling their tart. No worries: they slapped it on top and improvised, as all good home cooks do. The result was an upside-down tart with caramelized fruit, poached in a puddle of butter and sugar. Now do you see why I love it?

Apple Tarte Tatin

Serve this rustic dessert garnished with a spoonful of very lightly sweetened whipped cream spiked with a splash of Calvados or Pear Brandy. Serves 8 to 10.

For the Sour Cream Pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/3 cup full-fat sour cream

Apple Filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cut in 4 pieces
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
6 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and halved
1 egg, beaten to blend, for glaze

Prepare Pastry:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in bowl of food processor. Pulse once or twice to blend. Add butter and pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather dough into ball, flatten and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Pastry may be made one day ahead; refrigerate until use. Pastry dough may also be frozen up to one month in freezer before rolling. Allow to defrost in refrigerator overnight.) Remove pastry from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Prepare Tart:
Arrange butter in the bottom of large oven-proof skillet with sloping sides (preferably cast iron). Sprinkle 3/4 cup sugar evenly over butter and pan. Cook over medium heat until butter melts, the sugar is partially dissolved, and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.  Arrange apples closely together, core-side up, in a circular pattern in the skillet. If necessary, cut remaining apples in quarters to fill in the spaces. Sprinkle apples with 2 tablespoons sugar. Set skillet over medium-high heat. Boil until a thick amber coloured syrup forms, turning the skillet to ensure even cooking, about 25 to 30 minutes.
While the apples are cooking on the stove, heat oven to 425 F. Roll out pastry on parchment paper to a round shape to fit size of skillet. Return the dough and parchment to refrigerator until apples are caramelized. When ready, remove skillet from heat. Working quickly, lay pastry over apple mixture and peel away the parchment (the heat from the apples will begin to melt the pastry). Cut 3-4 slits in pastry. Brush pastry with some of the egg glaze.

Bake tart until pastry is deep golden brown and firm when tapped, about 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and cool on rack one minute. Gently loosen the edge of the pastry around the skillet with a thin spatula. Place a serving platter over the skillet. Quickly invert the tart onto the platter, using oven mitts. If any of the apples or caramel remain in the pan, scrape it out and arrange over the tart. Cool tart slightly before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

If you like this, you might enjoy these recipes:
Apple Cranberry Crisp from TasteFood
Apple Honey Challah from Smitten Kitchen
Pear Clafoutis from TasteFood
Spiced Pear Muffins from the Kitchn

Blood Orange Crostate with Salted Caramel Sauce

~ Blood Orange Crostate ~

When it comes to baking, I like my desserts messy. This is not to say that I like dirty dishes or wayward, disfunctional stand-mixers. It means that I like desserts that are free-form, imprecise and often referred to as “rustic.”  Thank goodness for the generations of country kitchens which devised homey, family-style and fabulous tasting desserts. Often involving fruit and usually containing folksy and forgiving words such as crumble, slump, crisp and fool, these desserts revel in imprecision, delightfully embracing dribbles, lopsidedness and even mistakes. Sure, some technique is involved, but the overriding rule is a relaxed unfussiness with a big helping of simplicity. Bring on the mess.

Which brings me to these slightly dissheveled crostatas (actually, I believe that’s crostate in the plural). Citrus is rampant in the markets right now, and with that comes the ruby blood orange. Sweet and tart, yet more complicated than the run-of-the-mill navel, this fruit has a unique flavor which borders on murkiness. If an orange can brood, then it’s the blood orange. I must have been in the mood for brooding when I stuffed a brown bag full of them, with the plan to make a dessert for a dinner this weekend. Scanning the web for inspiration, I found this recipe on the Kitchn, and, right away, I knew these crostatas were the dessert for me: brilliantly hued, cute as can be, and appropriately messy in a rustic free-form kind of way. I tweaked the recipe a bit to my taste and included a salted caramel sauce as an accompaniment.

Blood Orange Crostate with Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 8 – 4 inch crostatas

For the crust:
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled, cut in cubes
1/2 cup sour cream

For the filling:
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 blood oranges, skin and pith cut away, sliced crosswise, seeds removed
2 navel oranges, skin and pith cut away, sliced crosswise
1 egg beaten

Make the crust:
Combine flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Briefly pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse to achieve a crumbly consistency. Add sour cream and pulse a few times until the dough just begins to stick together. Turn dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 400 F. Whisk mascarpone, 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla in a small bowl to lighten and combine.
Remove dough from refrigerator. Divide into 8 equal portions. Roll out each portion in a circle about 6 inches in diameter and 1/4-inch thick. Place a tablespoon of mascarpone in the center of the dough, spreading it slightly, while keeping one inch clear around the edge of the dough. Place a navel orange slice in the center. Dot with blood orange sections. Sprinkle the oranges with a little sugar. Fold the exposed edges of the dough in around the oranges, shaping and pinching to create a rim of crust. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Repeat this process with remaining dough. Brush pastry dough with the egg and sprinkle the dough with a little more sugar.
Bake crostatas until crusts are firm to the touch and golden brown, about 45 minutes. Remove and cool on a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with a spoonful of the remaining mascarpone cream.  Drizzle with Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below).

Salted Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons European-style unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

While you are making the caramel be very careful, as the mixture will be extremely hot. Make sure that all of your ingredients are in place before you begin, since the sauce will come together very quickly. Use a high-sided heavy bottomed pot, since the caramel will foam up as it cooks. Be sure to use the best quality unsalted butter that you can find.

Add the sugar to a heavy-bottomed pot (3-4 quart) over medium-high heat. Cook until the sugar melts, whisking occasionally and swirling the pan to ensure even cooking. When the sugar is the color of dark amber, remove the pan from heat. Add the butter, taking care as it will foam. Stir until it’s melted into the sugar. Pour in the cream (it will foam again) and whisk until smooth. Add the salt. Cool the sauce completely. Makes about 1 cup. Store in a mason jar for up to two weeks.

Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin

~ Perfectly imperfect: Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin ~

By now you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of tarte tatins.  Tarte tatin is an upside down fruit tart, traditionally made with apples. It’s named for the Tatin sisters who “invented” the upside down caramelized tart purportedly by accident in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in 1898. Legend has it that one of the sisters, due to fatigue or distraction (and we have all been there), somehow omitted the pastry in an apple tart, thereby adding it on top of the fruit in an attempt to salvage the dessert. Wouldn’t it be nice if all of our kitchen disasters yielded such successful results?

Tarte tatins are a lovely way to showcase seasonal fruit. Homey and rustic, they ooze caramel and fruit. Best of all they are beautifully imperfect. Once you get the hang of making the caramel and the final turnout of the tart onto a plate, tarte tatins are an unfussy and pleasing dessert – and in my case, they are irregular, uneven and all the more charming for that.  I use a sour cream pastry which creates a crumbly, cookie-like crust. As the tart bakes in the oven, the caramel from the fruit filling will bubble up in spots through the crust. Fear not: The crust will continue to bake, and when the tart is finished and cooling, the wayward caramel will harden and coat the crust like a candied apple. How can anyone resist this?

Pear and Cardamom Tarte Tatin

I like to serve this with lightly sweetened whipped cream spiked with a spoonful of pear brandy. Serves 8 to 10.

Sour cream dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup full fat sour cream

Tart:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
6 large Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored, and halved
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten to blend, for glaze

Prepare the dough:
1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the sour cream and pulse until moist clumps form.
2. Gather the dough into a ball, and then flatten and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (The dough may be made one day ahead and refrigerated until use, or frozen for up to one month. Allow to defrost in refrigerator overnight before using.)
3. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before rolling out.

Prepare the tart:
1. Place the butter in the bottom of a large oven-proof skillet with sloping sides. Sprinkle the 1 cup sugar evenly over the butter and pan. Cook over medium heat until the butter melts, the sugar is partially dissolved, and the mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes.
2. Arrange the pears closely together, cut-side up, in a circular pattern in the skillet. Cut the remaining pears into quarters to fill in the spaces. Mix the 1 tablespoon sugar, the cardamom, and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the fruit. Increase the heat to  medium-high and cook until a thick amber colored syrup forms, turning the skillet to ensure even cooking, about 25 minutes.
3. While the fruit is cooking, preheat the oven to 425°F. Roll out the pastry on parchment paper to a round shape slightly larger than the skillet. Slide the paper onto a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator until the syrup is ready.
4. When the syrup has colored, remove the skillet from the heat and lay the pastry over the fruit (work quickly because it will begin to melt from the heat of the pan). Cut 3 to 4 slits in the pastry and brush the pastry with some of the egg glaze.
6. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the tart is deep golden brown and firm when tapped, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and cool on a rack 1 minute.
7. Cut around edge of skillet with a metal spatula to loosen the pastry. Place a large plate over the skillet and, using oven mitts, invert the tart onto the plate. If any of the pears or caramel are stuck in the pan, remove with the spatula and spread on top of tart. Cool the tart slightly before serving and serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream.

Coq au Vin

Coq au Vin is cozy winter food. It’s meant to slow cook and, like many stews, tastes even better the day after it’s prepared. I’ve come across recipes for quick Coq au Vin. This option sounds ideal for a busy weekday night, but, if you ask me, I would rather save my Coq au Vin for the weekend when it can simmer away, filling the kitchen with warmth and the aromas of wine and herbs, while building anticipation for dinner to come.

Traditional Coq au Vin required slow cooking, since it called for using a tough rooster as its main ingredient, which benefited from a long cooking process to tenderize the bird. Nowadays, chicken is commonly used, and the length of cooking time is shortened. Nonetheless, the dish is best when left to simmer over low heat, and the sauce is allowed to reduce and thicken into a luxuriously rich stew.

In this version, I omit the bacon and use a generous amount of brandy to deglaze the pan. Tomato paste is added to the sauce, lending depth and a touch of sweetness. I like to slow-cook the stew in the oven at a lower temperature, freeing up the stove top for other needs. In the meantime, I am free to get on with other tasks, or relax with a book and a cup of tea or gløgg.  This is the epitome of winter weekend food, preferably when the weather is cold and dismal outside.

Coq au Vin – Chicken Braised in Red Wine

 

As an option to butchering a whole chicken, purchase 2 whole legs and 2-3 breasts with skin and bone intact. Serves 4-6.

1 tablespoon olive oil
One chicken, cut in 8 pieces
salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup brandy
4 garlic cloves, smashed
3 large carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 large onion, chopped
8 ounces white mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
1 – 750 ml. bottle red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Heat oil in an oven-proof pot with lid or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces, skin side down, in batches. Brown on all sides, turning once, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter.
Carefully add brandy to the pot (it will steam) and deglaze pot. Add garlic, carrots, onion and mushrooms. Cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add wine, tomato paste, thyme and bay leaves. Return chicken to the pot and nestle the pieces in the wine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot and transfer to oven and bake, occasionally stirring, 1 1/2 hours.

Transfer pot to stove top. Remove chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl. Boil sauce over medium heat until reduced by about half and thickened to a sauce consistency, skimming fat, about 20 minutes. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Return chicken and vegetables to the pot, and gently simmer to thoroughly heat through. Serve in low bowls with mashed or roasted potatoes.