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.
Every woman needs a handful of recipes that are flexible, easy to pull off and yet beautiful and tasty to impress guests or hostesses. Whether you are hosting a party or attending and bringing a dish you want people talking about what you brought. A good dip recipe is great to have, especially once you master the basics of it and can start improvising with flavors like swapping out parmesan for gouda, chard for spinach or adding jalapeno or thai chilis. Once you have the basics down you can get super creative and create something specialized to your event, or just something that will help you clean out the fridge.
Baked brie is one of those things for me. It’s really pretty hard to mess it up and the options are almost endless when it comes to flavors and fillings. This Jalapeno, Peach and Pancetta on is one of my favorites because I am such a sucker for mixing sweet and savory and spicy all into one. This dish nails that combo. But the beauty of this is that you could just use bacon, or get fancy with proscuitto, ditch the jalapeno and add some balsamic, or use pineapple instead of peach- whatever your little heart desires. Or you could jump over to my Spicy Cranberry and Cream Cheese Dip and make that too.
I almost always have puff pastry in the freezer because it has so many uses. You can use it as pizza crust, cover pot pies with it, make homemade toaster strudels, a pie, beef wellington…just stuff something inside and bake and viola! Use whatever jam or preserve you want, or just simmer some fresh fruit and sugar to make your own. Just make sure that you take the puff pastry out of the freezer and move it to the fridge the night before and don’t try to force it when it’s still frozen or you will crack it and ruin the prettiness. Also, brushing with egg wash is a must, it is what gives it that shiny golden and crispy finish instead of dull and soft one.
I like to cut a strip off the side of the sheet before wrapping up the brie and make it into a flower for decoration, it’s not entirely necessary, but adds such a nice touch…
One last thing- I am currently obsessed with this Ayers Body Butter in Patagonia. It smells heavenly and is nice and thick and creamy but doesn’t leave hands too oily. What is your can’t live without moisturizer?
Saute pancetta or bacon in a non stick pan over medium heat until it begins to brown and crisp, drain on a paper towel.
Roll out the pastry dough a little, cut 1/2" off the side of the sheet and set aside.
Spread 1/2 of the peach preserves onto the center of the pastry, sprinkle with 1/2 of the pancetta, 1/2 of the jalapeno, and 1/2 of the basil.
Place the full wheel of brie in the center of the pastry, top with the other half of the peach preserves, pancetta, basil and jalapeno.
Beginning at the end, roll the reserved piece of puff pastry dough at a slight angle and pull out portions so that it resembles a rose. Place the rose in the center of the brie wheel and begin pulling the dough corners up over the brie and tucking into and under the rose, pinching to seal.
Using a pastry brush, brush the entire pastry with the egg wash. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden.