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

Weeknight Dinners: Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

Weeknight Dinners: Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

It may be fall, but summer’s tomatoes are not finished. The days are warm and gentle, and our tomato plants are hanging in there, kicking back and relaxing on the vine in the golden California sunshine. We pass by and pop them in our mouths, or pick a bunch and pile them in bowls for a snack. But they still accumulate. When I have too much (is that really possible?) I look for other uses, and there are many.

This is one of my favorite ways to cook with an abundance of cherry tomatoes. It coincides perfectly with the beginning of the school year, when we are crazy busy and running in 4 directions. The family dinner becomes elusive and suddenly time specific. Yet it’s even more important now, providing a great moment to sit together and connect after our busy day. This recipe is the perfect antidote. It may be prepared in almost no time, it’s healthy and economical, and it usually pleases the fussiest of eaters. Which is good, because they need to eat and get to their homework.


Linguine with Cherry Tomatoes and Breadcrumb Gremolata

Serves 4, unless you have a teen-aged boy. Then it serves 1.

For the Breadcrumb Gremolata:
1/2 cup breadcrumbs or panko
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley and/or basil
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the pasta:
1 pound linguine
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes

Prepare the gremolata:
Toast the breadcrumbs in a dry skillet until light golden, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Prepare the pasta:
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling bowl. Add linguine and cook until al dente; drain. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes begin to break down, but don’t completely dissolve, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Add linguine to skillet and toss to coat. Divide among serving plates and sprinkle with the gremolata. Serve immediately.

Prosciutto Rolls with Arugula, Fennel and Mint

Prosciutto Rolls with Arugula, Fennel and Mint

This is my second recipe for Legends from Europe, using Prosciutto di San Daniele. These appetizer rolls are inspired by Vietnamese rice paper spring rolls, with a decided Italian twist. Prosciutto replaces the rice paper as the wrap, adding a salty savory component to the crunchy fresh vegetables and piquant Parmigano filling. No dip required: instead, olive oil, lemon and mint add flavor, aroma and a touch of moistness. You might want to double the batch, because these tend to get gobbled up before you can say Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto Rolls with Arugula, Fennel and Mint
Makes 12

6 slices Prosciutto di San Danielle, halved lengthwise
Extra-virgin olive oil
Finely grated lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups loosely packed baby arugula leaves
1 medium fennel bulb, fronds trimmed, halved lengthwise, each half thinly sliced lengthwise
4 ounces Parmigiano cheese, shaved
1/2 cup mint leaves, torn in half if large

Place a slice of prosciutto on a work surface, short end closest to you. Lightly brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of lemon zest and a little freshly ground black pepper. Arrange 6 to 8 arugula leaves at the base. Place a few slices of fennel and Parmigiano shavings over the arugula. Top with a few pieces of mint. Roll up from the base, tucking the prosciutto tightly around the vegetables. Continue to roll, placing 1 or 2 additional arugula leaves in the fold as you roll up. Place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Legends of Europe: Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

My mission (should I choose to accept it):  To create an original recipe using Prosciutto di San Daniele from Legends from Europe. Legends from Europe is a 3 year campaign funded by the European Union and launched in the U.S. to increase awareness and celebrate “the legendary quality, tradition and taste” of five authentic PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin) from Europe: Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reffiano, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano and Montasio.

As luck would have it, these 5 products happen to be some of my favorites. The biggest challenge I faced was not in accepting this mission but deciding which product to feature. Fortunately, the folks at Legends helped me with my choice and assigned me the Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto di San Daniele is named for the region of San Daniele in northeastern Italy where it enjoys a unique micro-climate nestled between the Dolomite Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The ham is left to slow-cure naturally, following a 2,000 year-old tradition introduced by the Celts. Today, Prosciutto di San Daniele is considered a delicacy  with its mild flavor and delicate texture. This week, I will be posting a few recipes I’ve created with Legends’ Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

A small rosemary sprig does double duty as a toothpick and aromatic, infusing the figs and goat cheese with its flavor as they bake in the oven. Makes 16 hors-d’oeuvres

8 ripe figs
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices “Legends from Europe” Prosciutto di San Daniele, halved lengthwise
16 3/4-inch rosemary sprigs with stem, plus 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 375 F. Halve figs lengthwise. Place figs on a work surface, skin side down. Gently make a small indentation in each center with a teaspoon. Mix goat cheese and pepper together in a small bowl. Fill the indentation with goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon. Wrap a prosciutto slice, cross-wise, around fig. Spear a rosemary sprig through the center to hold the prosciutto in place. Repeat with remaining fig halves. Place figs in a baking dish. Lightly brush prosciutto with olive oil. Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer figs to a platter. Remove baked rosemary sprigs and discard (they will be brown). Replace with a few fresh rosemary leaves, without stem. Lightly drizzle figs with honey. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve warm.

Fish Cakes

Fish Cakes

Calling these “fish cakes” really doesn’t do them justice. The “fish” part is right, but “cake” infers flour, fat and eggs with a bread-like crumb. These crispy succulent fish patties have none of that. They are packed with 3 types of fish, fresh herbs and chiles, and just a little filler to hold them together. I’ve combined sweet baby shrimp, salmon and Alaskan smoked halibut in this recipe, but feel free to adjust the quantities of each, so long as you have about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds in total. I do recommend including smoked fish – it’s flavor adds a certain heartiness and saltiness to these, er, cakes, evoking the seaside on a grey and misty autumn day.

Fish Cakes

Finely chop the fish instead of processing in a food processor. This will ensure a chunky – not pasty – consistency. Makes about 16 (2-inch) cakes.

1 3/4 cups Panko breadcrumbs, divided
1 salmon fillet, about 6 ounces, skin and pin-bones removed, finely chopped
3/4 pound cooked baby shrimp, finely chopped
1/2 pound smoked fish (halibut or salmon), finely chopped
1 red jalapeno chile peppers, stemmed and seeded, finely minced
1/4 cup grated yellow onion, with juices
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons whole milk Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley and/or cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sauce:
1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Sriracha, or to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

Place 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Set aside. Place remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs and all of the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Gently mix to thoroughly combine, without overmixing. With a light hand, carefully form 2-inch patties. Roll in the reserved breadcrumbs to coat and arrange in one layer on a tray or platter. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours.
Prepare the sauce: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a small bowl. Keep refrigerated until use.
Fry the fish cakes: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish cakes in batches without overcrowding. Fry until brown and crispy on both sides, turning once. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Keep warm. Serve  with Yogurt Sriracha Sauce.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Smoky Fennel Salmon Chowder
Cioppino with a Twist
Smoked Mackerel Pate with Horseradish and Dill

Sunday Supper: Braised Short Ribs and Sweet Potato Mash

~ Braised and Glazed Beef Short Ribs ~

Never mind that September is the “real” summer in San Francisco. As you may know, in the Bay area our summer months are characterized by mist and fog and accessorized with fleece. September and October are the glorious weather months, brandishing golden sunshine, warm days and air as soft as butter.

Even still.

Once school starts up and Labor Day is crossed off the calendar, I can’t help myself. I start fingering my woolies, eyeing the fireplace, and reaching for my Dutch-oven. Sundays become slow-food days, meant for braises, stews and roasts, accompanied by squidgy mashes and bubbling gratins, with the aroma of meat and spice wafting through the house. It may be warm outside in San Francisco, but the smells of fall are in the air – and in the kitchen.

Braised and Glazed Short Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

8 4-inch short ribs with bone, 3 1/2 – 4 pounds
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium daikon radish, peeled and chopped, about 1 cup
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
1 750-ml. bottle full-bodied red wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup soy sauce

Heat oven to 325 F (170 C). Sprinkle the short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy oven-proof pot with lid over medium-high heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides, in batches, without overcrowding the pan. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the pot. Add onion, carrot, daikon and garlic. Sauté over medium-high heat, scraping up brown bits, until vegetables brighten in color and begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, coriander and chili powder. Sauté until fragrant, 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to blend. Return short ribs to the pot, submerging in the wine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes to allow the alcohol to burn off. Remove from heat and cover. Transfer pot to oven. Cook for 3 hours, or until meat is tender, stirring occasionally. Remove pot from oven and increase oven temperature to 425 F. Transfer short ribs to a roasting pan or baking dish. Bring sauce to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Brush the meat with the reduced sauce. Place roasting pan in oven and roast ribs until they are glazed and beginning to crisp, about 15 minutes. Serve with Sweet Potato Mash.

If you like this, you  might enjoy these recipes:
Beer-Braised Chipotle Short Ribs from TasteFood
Korean-Braised Short Ribs from Appetite for China
Beef Bourguignon from TasteFood
Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Ginger and Scallion Beef from Rasa Malaysia

Cooking for your Health: Healthy Entertaining with Fresh Spring Rolls

Cooking for your Health: Healthy Entertaining with Fresh Spring Rolls

In this month’s installment of Cooking for your Health, we’re talking parties. More specifically, we’re talking healthy party food. I can’t think of a better way to have a good time than to have a group of friends over and to feed them. Sometimes this means a sit-down dinner with many courses, other times it’s a bunch of appetizers to call a meal. Either way, finger food is always involved and ideally it will be light, flavorful and nutritious, while being festive enough to be invited to a party. One of my favorite hors d’oeurvres is fresh spring rolls, which you might call a salad roll. They are bright, colorful, bursting with fresh veggies and herbs, and served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce with a kick of heat. They are a perfect way to begin a meal: Not only are they delicious, they are healthy, low in calories and won’t leave you with a stuffed feeling – even if you find yourself standing over the tray gobbling them up because they are so darn good.

Fresh Spring Rolls

For a vegetarian option, omit the shrimp. Feel free to mix and match your vegetables to taste and heat preference. Choose between sweet peppers, spicy chiles, jicama, daikon, cucumber, chinese cabbage, carrots, green onions. Remember that the key to a good roll is to have a balance of sweet, savory, heat and salt in the ingredients and to combine a variety of textures for a satisfying bite.  Be sure to prepare all the ingredients in advance, so that when you are ready to assemble the rolls, everything is in place.

Makes 8 rolls.

For the spring rolls:
8 (eight-inch/22 cm.) spring roll wrappers (galettes de riz)
8 large green lettuce leaves, any tough ribs removed, torn in half
4 scallions or spring onions, ends trimmed, halved, cut length-wise in julienne strips
2 large carrots, peeled, cut in matchsticks
1 large red bell pepper or 4 red jalapeno chile peppers, stemmed, seeded, cut in matchsticks
1 english cucumber, seeded, cut in matchsticks
1 large bunch coriander leaves and tender stems
1 large bunch mint leaves
16 medium cooked shrimp, peeled, halved lengthwise (optional)

For the Peanut Lime Sauce:
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sriracha or hot sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro

Make Spring Rolls:
Pour warm water into a wide bowl. Immerse one rice paper round in water to just soften, about 5 seconds.  Remove and spread on a plastic cutting board.  Let stand for 30 seconds to absorb water. Arrange 2 lettuce leaf halves over the bottom half of the rice paper round.  Top lettuce with a line of green onion, carrot, pepper, cucumber, coriander and mint. Fold bottom of rice paper over filling and tuck around the filling to compact it. Arrange 4 shrimp halves horizontally over the crease and continue rolling. Transfer roll, seam-side down to a plate and cover with damp towel.  Repeat with remaining rolls.  (Adjust ingredient amounts to taste and to ensure the roll is plump and full).
Spring rolls may be made up to 4 hours in advance.  Cover with damp paper towels and plastic wrap and refrigerate. To serve, cut cross-wise in quarters, with one shrimp per segment, or in half.  Serve with Peanut Lime Sauce for dipping.

Make Peanut Lime Sauce:

Whisk  all ingredients except the cilantro together in a small bowl. Taste for seasoning. (Add 1 more tablespoon water if desired). Refrigerate covered until use. Before serving add cilantro.

If you like this, you might enjoy more Cooking for your Health recipes:
Homemade Granola Bars
Salmon Wrapped in Kale with Harissa
Greek Couscous Salad

Caramelized Onion Tart

Caramelized Onion Tart

This tart is a vehicle for caramelized onions. It’s also inspired by an appetizer I ate years ago in a Swiss auberge overlooking the Lake of Geneva, near our home at the time. It’s been so long, I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but I do remember the onion tart. It was simple and rustic, just like the half-timbered dining room with its open fire where we tasted it. As we settled into our deep chairs and read the menu, our kir royales (champagne and creme de cassis) would arrive, accompanied by a complimentary sliver of tarte d’oignon. Sweet, rich and minimal, this tart was perfection in its simplicity. Today I make a version of this memory and enjoy another view from our California home. It’s so rich that I like to serve it a similar way, cut in thin slivers, served with a glass of wine.

Caramelized Onion Tart
Serves 8-12

For the dough – adapted from a recipe by Alice Waters:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
3 tablespoons ice water

Stir flour and salt together with a fork. Toss in butter. Work the butter into the flour with a fork or your fingertips until it resembles coarse meal, with some pieces of the butter apparent. Sprinkle in the water while stirring with a fork until the dough comes together, adding another tablespoon of water if necessary. Form into a ball and flatten. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour

For the filling:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons port wine
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces finely grated Gruyère cheese
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, plus extra for garnish
1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a deep skillet or pot. Add onions and salt. Cook onions, stirring occasionally, until they are golden brown, soft and squidgy, about 30 minutes. Add port wine and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Remove onions from heat and stir in the pepper. Cool slightly.
While the onions are cooling, roll out the dough to fit in the bottom and up the side of a 10-inch round tart tin. Sprinkle half of the cheese over the bottom of the tart. Spoon onions into the shell and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon thyme over the onions. Brush the exposed crust rim with the egg wash. Sprinkle the tart and crust with the remaining cheese.
Bake in a preheated 375 F. oven until the crust is firm and golden and the onions have turned a rich golden brown, without blackening, about 30 minutes. Remove and cool slightly. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature garnished with thyme sprigs.

Baked Shrimp and Kale with Chermoula

~ Shrimp, Kale, Chermoula, Oven ~

It’s not fair to say that this recipe is all about the chermoula sauce. After all, shrimp and kale are no slouches when it comes to ingredients. It’s just that the chermoula does something wicked to this dish. Let me first tell you what chermoula is: a North African paste including cilantro, parsley, lemon, paprika, cumin and garlic. Typically chermoula is used as a marinade for fish, but I’ve used it with beef, chicken, thick slices of eggplant and cauliflower steaks; it always tastes good. So good, you might be tempted to eat it with a spoon or swipe a hunk of bread through it and call it a snack. In the case of this recipe, I dropped chermoula-coated shrimp over a bed of kale and popped the whole lot in the oven. It was almost too easy considering how good it turned out.

Baked Shrimp and Kale with Chermoula

For a smokier version, substitute the paprika with smoked paprika. Serves 4.

Chermoula:
1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs, chopped
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 pound large shrimp, deveined, shells removed
1 bunch lacinato kale, tough ribs removed
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Heat oven to 375 F.  Combine the chermoula ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix well. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Tear the kale leaves into large pieces. Lightly oil a 9-by-13-inch rectangular baking dish. Arrange the kale in one layer in the baking dish. Lightly drizzle with olive oil. Dump the shrimp into the baking dish and arrange in one layer over the kale. Spoon any remaining chermoula over the kale and shrimp. Bake until the shrimp are bright in color and just cooked through, 20-25 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Grilled Sriracha Chicken Skewers
Moroccan Lamb Stew
Coconut Shrimp Curry