Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Julia Child-Lets try it again! Ratatouille and Tarte Tatin

Well book club got canceled last week, so Andy and I ended up incorporating a lot of cheesy puffs into the meals of the following days!!

We rescheduled, so I had time to look for some Julia type recipes. I decided on Ratatouille and Tarte Tatin. I'd never made either and I was very happy with both.

We had a lovely discussion about Julia. It was a great book to read even for those amongst us who aren't that bothered about food and cooking. I don't know much about her apart from this book and she just sounds like a wonderful woman. There are a few people that you meet in life that just touch you so profoundly that just to be in their presence makes you feel inspired. She sounds like one of these people. It also was encouraging to those of us who aren't sure where their lives are headed, to realize that we should follow our dream and that there is still time for us to change our lives for the better.

Ratatouille was a dish I'd not thought about cooking for years. Having given up meat for over half of my life, I've seen bad versions of it on too many pub and restaurant menus to have any interest whatsoever. I'd seen a lot of people who were cooking it and it seemed the perfect way to use up my eggplant. I used the recipe from the Washington Post and followed it as closely as possible. I think it was worth the effort of cooking things separately, it might be easier and safer to cook in the oven next time for the final cooking. I'm not a huge fan of green pepper, so I'm pretty sure I'll be cutting down on that next time, there was tons of it!

Tarte Tatin is so easy I'm sure I'll be making it again, the lovely chocolate and zucchini steered me towards a caramel preparation which was just divine. I ended up preparing the caramel and apples the night before along with the pastry and then assembling and cooking the next day. I was too embarrassed to be taking pictures at book club so you'll have to be satisfied with seeing the tart before I added the pastry.

I found that instead of her delicious looking caramelized apples, I had some soft apples with a delicious syrup over them. It was nice and not soggy and got snapped up with no leftovers, but I will try again by making it and cooking immediately. I'd say this needs to be eaten immediately before the pastry becomes all soggy.

Incidentally, this is yet another style of preparation of pastry, combining butter and sugar with a fork, then combining flour with the fork.

My changes to the recipe were that I used a 9" cake tin and I substituted some golden syrup for the sugar. 'Cos everything is better with treacle! I'd say that it was on the sweet side, so the tartness of the apples dictate how much sugar needs to be added.

Tarte Tatin Caramel au Beurre Salé from Chocolate and Zucchini

- 5 apples (I decide 4 braeburns would be enough as America makes everything bigger!)
- 170 g (1 1/3 C) flour
- 85 g (1/3 C) sugar (preferably unrefined cane sugar)
- 85 g (3/4 stick) salted butter, at room temperature (I used half salted half unsalted)
- a little milk
- 70 g (1/4 C) brown sugar
- 35 g (1/3 stick) salted butter at room temperature, diced

(Serves 6 to 8.)

In a medium mixing-bowl, combine 85 g of sugar and 85 g of butter with a fork. Add in the flour, and keep mixing with the fork. When the dough forms even crumbs, add in a dash of milk, and knead the dough with your hands to form a ball. If the dough does not come together after about a minute, add in a tad more milk and knead again. The idea is to add the milk little by little to stop at just the right dough consistency (if you've added too much and the dough gets impossibly sticky, compensate with flour). Wrap in shrink wrap and put in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.

Butter the sides of a 25-cm (10-inch) cake pan.

Put 70 g of brown sugar in a small nonstick saucepan, and put over medium-low heat until the sugar melts. As soon as it's melted (work quickly to avoid overcooking the caramel, which would result in a slight bitterness), remove from heat, add in 35 g of butter and stir to form a paste. Pour this paste in the cake pan, and use the back of a spoon to spread it over the bottom. It's okay if the bottom is not entirely covered, but try to make it as even as you can. Set aside.

Rinse, peel, and cut the apples in eighth. Arrange the apple pieces prettily over the caramel in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).

Take the ball of dough out from the fridge, lightly flour a clean work surface, and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out in a circle slightly larger than the pan. Transfer the circle of dough over the apples, and tuck in the outer rims. Prick the dough in a few places with a fork.

Put into the oven to bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the dough turns golden and your home is filled with wonderful caramely apple fumes.

Take the pan out of the oven, run a knife around the sides of the pan and flip it onto a serving dish. If one or two apple pieces have stuck to the bottom of the pan, just put them back where they belong on the tart.

Serve warm (not piping hot) on its own, or with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or a dollop of crème fraîche/sour cream/yogurt.

1 comment:

Deborah said...

I've never made a ratatouille or tarte tatin either. I really want to make a tarte tatin soon though - this one sounds wonderful!