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Julia Child: La Tarte Tatin

Posted on Sep. 2nd 2012 No Comments »

Fall apples are on their way. Watch out for some golden delicious beauties and make one of the most delicious desserts you’ve ever had. Julia Child would have been 100 on August 15, and to celebrate I made her famous upside-down apple tart. Here is the recipe from Julia Child The Way to Cook.

For apples:

  • 5 to 6 apples, Golden Delicious recommended
  • Grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

For pastry:

  • 3/4  cup all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached
(scooped and leveled)
  • 1/4  cup plain bleached cake flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 ounces chilled unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise and diced
  • 1/8 cup (1 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus droplets more, if needed

Begin with the pastry.

Blending flour and butter. Have all the ingredients measured out and ready to use. Put the flour, salt, sugar, and diced butter in the container of the processor and pulse (on-off half-second clicks) 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly. Add the shortening, turn on the machine, and immediately pour in the 1/4 cup of ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times. Remove the cover and feel the dough – it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together. (It’s important not to over mix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine.) If too dry, pulse in droplets more water. From now on, work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.

Final Blending. Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it into a rough mass. For the final blending, rapidly and roughly, with the heel
(not the palm) of your hand, push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you in a 6-inch smear.

Resting and Chilling. Form the dough into a cake; it should be fairly smooth and pliable. Wrap in plastic, slide it into a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax the gluten.

Now the apples:

Preparing the apples. Quarter, core, and peel the apples; cut the quarters in half lengthwise. Toss in a bowl with the lemon and 1/2 cup of sugar, and let steep 20 minutes so they will exude their juices. Drain them.

The caramel. Set the frying pan (highly recommend a 9” cast iron with straight sides of 2”) over moderately high heat with the butter, and when melted blend in the remaining [1 cup] sugar. Stir about with a wooden spoon for several minutes, until the syrup turns a bubbly caramel brown – it will smooth out later, when the apples juices dissolve the sugar.

Arranging the apples in the pan. Remove from heat and arrange a layer of apple slices nicely in the bottom of the pan to make an attractive design, circling the apples slices around the circumference of the pan and then filling in the middle. Arrange the rest of the apples on top, close packed and only reasonably neat. Add enough so that they heap up 1 inch higher than the rim of the pan – they sink down as they cook.

Preliminary stove-top cooking – 20 to 25 minutes. (Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F for the next step, placing the rack in the lower middle level.) Set the pan again over moderately high heat, pressing the apples down as they soften, and drawing the accumulated juices up over them with a bulb
baster – basting gives the whole apple mass a deliciously buttery caramel flavor. In several minutes, when the apples begin to soften, cover the pan and continue cooking 10 to 15 minutes, checking and basting frequently until the juices are thick and syrupy. Remove from heat, and let cool slightly while you roll out the dough.

The dough cover. Roll the chilled dough into a circle 3/16 inch thick and
1 inch larger than the top of your pan. Cut 4 steam holes, 1/4-inch size,
1 1/2 inches from around the center of the dough. Working rapidly, fold the dough in half, then in quarters; center the point over the apples. Unfold the dough over the apples. Press the edges of the dough down between the apples and the inside of the pan.

Baking – about 20 to 25 minutes at 425 degrees F. Bake until the pastry has browned and crisped. Being careful of the red-hot pan handle, remove from the oven.

Verification. Tilt the pan, and if the juices are runny rather than a thick syrup, boil down rapidly on top on the stove, but be sure not to evaporate them completely or the apples will stick to the pan.

Serving. Still remembering that the pan is red-hot, turn the serving dish upside down over the apples and reverse the two to unmold the tart. If not quite neat in design – which does happen – rearrange slices as necessary. Serve hot, warm, or cold, with the optional cream or ice cream.

Makes an 8 inch tart, serving 6-8

Posted by poppa-d | in Uncategorized

Chunky Lentil Soup

Posted on Aug. 6th 2012 No Comments »

Summer’s winding down, or we can pretend it is, and here is a soup to celebrate. It’s from the cookbook Super Natural Cooking.

  • 1 1/4 cups black beluga lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups diced butternut squash (1/4 inch dice)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • Pinch of smoked paprika or pure chili powder
  • Torn fresh basil leaves, for garnish
  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • Good-quality olive oil, for garnish

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in the squash, tomatoes and stock and continue cooking until the squash is tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the lentils and stir them in, along with the salt and smoked paprika. Let the soup return to a gentle simmer, then taste and adjust the seasoning if need be.

Serve, topped with the basil, Parmesan, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6

Posted by poppa-d | in Uncategorized


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