I first made an apple tart tatin when I was a senior in highschool. I didn’t have time to work but I wanted to have some money to spend so my mom paid me to do all the grocery shopping and make dinner a few nights a week. It was a great way to me to relax and de-stress after school before starting homework and allowed me to hone my cooking skills and cultivate my creativity while making a little money on the side.
One of the things I was doing at this time was cooking my way through the Cooks Illustrated magazines. Cooks Illustrated is by far the best cooking magazine out there for people who want to learn how to cook, not just how to read recipes. Each one has a full article on the technique, ingredients, or methods used and why it is important so that that knowledge can be translated to other recipes. For example, in their recipe for Ground Beef Chili they explain that baking powder helps beef retain it’s moisture and brown better. Now that I know this I frequently add baking powder to beef and let it set for about 20 minutes before browning, even if the recipe doesn’t include this step.
Anyways, I found the recipe for apple tarte tatin in cooks illustrated, and it was fall so I made it for a Thanksgiving dinner with my then boyfriend (now husband’s) family. It was a total hit. Now we have our own apple tree that is producing a ton of fruit right now so I pulled out the recipe. But to be honest, I was feeling pretty lazy so I made up a different, much easier recipe. I used puff pastry instead of making a dough. I wouldn’t dare call it authentic but it is definitely tasty.
Melt 4 TBS of butter on med-low in a 12″ cast iron skillet. Add 1/4 c brown sugar, 1/4 c granulated sugar and melt until dissolved completely. When it starts to bubble add the whiskey (or brandy would be good too), and cook stirring for about a minute. Add the chopped apples and vanilla. I like to leave them all different sizes so you get a variation in the texture of the apples. I also leave the skin on. Our apples have very tender skin, but if you prefer no skin then peel them, and if you prefer an even texture then make all your apple slices the same size. Sprinkle the apples with cinnamon, ginger, and lemon juice and bake for about 10 minutes. Once the apples are softened, gently press them down with a spatula to flatten slightly. Place your trimmed puff pastry on top, tucking it down into the sides with a spatula. Cut a few slits on top to release steam and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the top is golden. Cool it for 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. You could make some pastry flowers, or use cookie cutters to make some pretty shapes for decorating. Just bake them separately and set on top after you have inverted the tart. Top with ice cream, whipped cream, or as I did with Mascarpone Sorbet.
4-5applescored, halved or quartered (you can leave the peel on or remove it )
Pre-Heat oven to 400F
In a 12" cast iron skillet melt the butter over med low heat. Add the sugars and stir to dissolve.
Let the mixture bubble for about 1 minute then add the whiskey and cook for 1 more minute.
Add the lemon juice and stir to combine. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and stir.
Arrange the apples in the pan with the cut sides down, layering a bit.Sprinkle the top with the cinnamon and ginger.
Bake for 10 minutes until the apples begin to soften. While the apples bake, trim your puff pastry into a circle to fit your skillet. You can use the excess to make pretty shapes for decorations, but bake them separately.
Use a spatula to gently press down the apples to even the top. Carefully place the puff pastry over the apples and tuck the sides down into the pan with a spatula. Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape.
Bake for an additional 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
Let cool for about 10 minutes before inverting onto a plate. Serve warm with Mascarpone Sorbet or with ice cream, whipped cream.
I am sitting here on the couch watching “Decoding The Ancients” sipping chai tea, and keeping an eye on my dog to make sure he doesn’t lick. I am bored, until I think to myself, hey, it’s tea month, you’re supposed to be sharing tea and chai tea is on the list, so let’s do it! Viola! I am no longer bored.
One of my favorite beverages is chai tea. I love the warmth of the spices, it is the tea I always want when it is rainy and gloomy and I need a mood booster. Please make this tea, it has a lengthy ingredient list but it really isn’t hard and it is SO worth it. Today I made it with cacao nibs and I believe this is my new favorite version. When possible I try to make my chai tea completely from scratch, the difference in taste is incredible.
I also like to use whole spices in combination with ground spices, you can get a strong flavor with ground spices but they can be difficult to strain out making the tea gritty. If you use whole spices, you need to simmer longer and use a little more than with ground spices. Most of the spices you probably have most of the spices on hand anyways. I make sure to always have freshly minced ginger by peeling my ginger and pulsing in a food processor until minced. Then I spread it out on a baking sheet and freeze it, then place into a freezer bag so I have it on hand at all times.
This specific recipe is for the spices I have on hand and uses both whole and ground spices, but feel free to mix it up. I like a lot of ginger and black pepper in mine, but that’s not your thing then cut back a little. Try adding in other flavors, or using different sweeteners for subtle differences in flavor. I like to use cashew milk, raw sugar, and Honeybush Tea because it is caffeine free and has a natural sweetness to it. Black, green, and other red or herbal teas will also work.
Honeybush tea is another one of my favorite teas, one that I also get from Mountain Rose Herbs. It has a flavorful and sweet almost honey like taste and is caffeine free. I highly recommend this tea to anyone just starting to drink teas or is wanting to switch from artificially flavored bagged teas to natural loose leaf tea. It is great iced too, I once added pureed mango to ice honeybush tea and it was delightful. Anyone else a fan of this tea?
Place the spices and the water in a small pot and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes or until it is reduced by half.
Remove from heat and add the tea. Steep for 5 minutes, then strain into a tea pot using a fine mesh sieve.
Heat milk in a pot over medium/low heat, being careful not to scald the milk or boil it. Add the sweetener of choice and stir until dissolved. Then pour it into the tea pot with the tea, stir to combine and serve.