Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Molly’s Tarte Tatin

I got this recipe off the Smitten Kitchen site, which I love. I missed the part about using salted butter and the tart was overly sweet as a result. There was also too much liquid by far. I'll keep working on it, and I'll probably only use half the amount of butter in the recipe next time. Minor quibbles notwithstanding, as a fancy birthday surprise for my mom, it absolutely did the trick.

1 stick plus two tablespoons cold salted butter (5 ounces), cut into cubes and chilled in the freezer
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
1 1/2 cup flour
3 to 6 tablespoons ice water

8-10 medium apples
1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter
1 cup sugar

Prepare Crust: I always use the food processor for this. Pre-mix the flour and sugar in the food processor container, and cube the butter on a plate. Then put the dry ingredients and the butter in the freezer for a while. This will get everything, including the blade and container, nice and chilled. The colder everything is, the flakier and more tender your crust will be. Prepare about 1/3 cup ice water and refrigerate.

After you’ve chilled everything for at least 20 minutes, add the cubes of butter to dry ingredients and pulse until the largest pieces of butter are no bigger than tiny peas.

Add the ice water a little at a time, processing just until the dough starts to come together into a mass. (it won’t quite be a “ball,” and it won‘t look smooth–you don’t want to overprocess it!) Turn out onto well-floured surface and pat together into a ball. Don’t handle the dough too much, or the warmth of your hands will start to melt the butter. Flour the top of the dough and use rolling pin to quickly press and roll the dough out into a 10 to 11-inch circle. Keep turning the dough as you do this to make sure it doesn’t stick to the rolling surface. Throw more flour underneath the dough if necessary. Check the crust to make sure it’s just big enough to cover the top of your tarte tatin pan. Move the crust onto a piece of parchment paper or onto a floured rimless baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Prepare filling: Preheat oven to 375° F.

Peel, core and quarter the apples. Don’t cut them into smaller pieces than quarters–the quarters shrink considerably during cooking. You can squeeze a bit of lemon on them, but it’s not necessary.

Over low heat in a heavy, ovenproof skillet measuring 7 to 8 inches across the bottom and 10 to 11 inches across the top, melt the stick of butter. Remove from heat, add the sugar and stir until blended.

Shake/tap the pan so the butter-sugar mixture distributes evenly across the bottom. Arrange apple quarters in pan, first making a circle inside the edge of the pan. Place them on their sides and overlap them so you can fit as many as possible. Then fill the center of the pan; you may have some apple left over. Keep at least one extra apple quarter on hand–when you turn the apples over, they may have shrunk to the extent that you’ll need to cheat and fill in the space with an extra piece. This one piece won’t get quite as caramelized as the other pieces, but don’t worry–it will still cook through and no one will notice.

Return your pan to the stovetop on high heat. Let boil for 10 to 12 minutes or until the juices in the pan turn from golden in color to dark amber. Remove from heat. With the tip of a sharp knife, turn apple slices over, keeping them in their original places. If necessary, add an extra slice of apple to keep your arrangement intact. Return to the stovetop on high heat once more. Let cook another 5 minutes and then remove from heat.

Place the crust on top of the apples and brush off excess flour. Tuck edges under slightly, along the inside of the pan, being careful not to burn fingers. You can use your knife.

Bake in oven until the top of the crust is golden-brown in color, about 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack about 30 minutes.

Run a sharp knife along the inside edge of the pan. Place a plate or other serving dish on top of the pan and quickly flip over the whole shebang so the Tarte Tatin drops down onto the plate. The pan will still be hot, so use potholders and be careful. If there are any pieces of apple left behind in the pan or otherwise out of place, carefully put them back where they are supposed to be.
This keeps well for about a day at room temperature; if you have to refrigerate it, warm it up slightly before serving for optimum enjoyment

Sunday, October 26, 2008

"Arroz Con Cosas" Omelette

I haven't been cooking since our kitchen was ripped out a couple of weeks ago. It has yet to be put back together. The stove is now finally connected again, but washing pans in the (newly painted, easily scratched) bathtub is a drag, so we've had almost a month of restaurant take-out.

Of course, if you have to live on take-out, Harlem is not a bad place to be. We order from Floridita a lot. Their asopao makes me irrationally happy, and I could eat their yellow rice all day long. Just perfect.

This morning, unable to take it anymore, I finally had to cook, and improvised this omelette around some of that precious leftover yellow rice from Floridita. I figured, the Japanese make rice omelettes, why shouldn't there be a Cuban version? The result was one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts moments. Simple, but heavy on the mmmmmmmm factor, and it got our day off to a very nice start.


Nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil
1/3 cup chopped chorizo
1 cup leftover yellow rice, brought to room temperature
handful of chopped Italian parsley
1 small carton original eggbeaters
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 slice Muenster cheese, chopped into small dice

Heat a saute pan over medium heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray or oil, and saute the chorizo until it starts to brown slightly. Lower the heat to low, add the rice and saute until heated through. Add the parsley and stir to combine. In a separate bowl mix together the eggbeaters an Parmesan cheese. Raise the heat to medium. Pour the egg mixture over the rice and scatter the Muenster cheese over the top. Cook until the eggs are just barely set. Fold in half and serve.

Serves 2

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fire Island Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

These are cream biscuits and they defy all reason, all logic, all traditional biscuit wisdom. Manhandle them - they like it a little rough. No need to break out the pastry blender, since there's no fat to cut into flour or any of the fussy, anxiety-provoking techniques traditionally associated with biscuit-making. Just a bowl, a spoon and a baking sheet. They come together in a flash and they are delicious.

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour , plus extra for the counter
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.
3. Shape the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut biscuits into rounds or wedges. Place rounds or wedges on parchment-lined baking sheet. (The baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Serve with sausage gravy.


1 hot Italian sausage, crumbled
1/2 yellow onion, diced small
1 T flour
The tiny amount of cream left over from the pint used to make the biscuits
Skim milk, to taste

Saute the crumbled sausage and onion in a small pan until the sausage is almost cooked through and the onion is translucent. Add flour and cook over medium heat for two minutes, stirring. Add the cream and continue to cook until the flour has lost its raw taste, adding additional skim milk if the gravy seems too thick. Adjust the seasoning and serve hot.
Makes 6 biscuits and just enough gravy