Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tomato Tarte Tatin

My roommate came home with a 5" cast iron skillet a few weeks ago. He was geeked about tarte tatins, French upside-down caramelized apple tarts, and variations on that theme. He bought apples. He bought pears. He bought tomatoes and thyme. The following recipe was what we put together this morning, taken from a NY Times article from last September.

So, this is our election day. Sleeping in, a leisurely breakfast, catching up with the news, and playing around with a new recipe. There were no lines at the polls, despite all the news reports that said otherwise. The weather is oddly warm for November 4th- no jacket required, and everything is warm toned from the sun falling through the yellow leaves that are still hanging from the trees. This caramelized tomato tart, in all it's flavor complexity, was fitting for today.

Caramelized Tarte Tatin
from 9/17/08 NY Times, Melissa Clark

1 sheet of Puff pastry dough, either home made or store bought.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 red onions, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 cup plus a pinch of sugar
1/2 teaspoon sherry vinegar
1/4 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1 1/2 pints (about 1 pound) cherry or grape tomatoes; a mix of colors is nice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Unfold puff pastry sheet and cut into a 10-inch round; chill, covered, until ready to use.
2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of sugar and cook, stirring, until onions are golden and caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons water and let cook off, scraping brown bits from bottom of pan. Transfer onions to a bowl.
3. In a clean, ovenproof 9-inch skillet, combine 1/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water. Cook over medium heat, swirling pan gently (do not stir) until sugar melts and turns amber, 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar and swirl gently.
4. Sprinkle olives over caramel. Scatter tomatoes over olives, then sprinkle onions on. Season with thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Top with puff pastry round, tucking edges into pan. Cut several long vents in top of pastry.
Bake tart until crust is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then run a knife around pastry to loosen it from pan, and flip tart out onto a serving platter. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

New Books

There are a lot of books out there that I'm dying to have the time to read.

Of new note, I've read great things about 'Bakewise' by Shirley O. Corriher. It's a baking related addendum to her older publication, 'Cookwise', which I've not read either but have heard great reviews on.

And then there's my renewed interest in Christine Ferber. She's got two books out that I'm particularly interested in- the first is for her preserves, the second is a book on tarts.

In the case of Christine Ferber and her magnificent preserves, I've cooked from other peoples copies of them, but need to get my own and get busy experimenting with them again.
I'm probably less inclined to make preserves at home, since I've had standing plans with someone at work to make them for the past two summers and haven't done it yet. My kitchen is too small, and I've never canned before (which, to the uninitiated, is quite daunting). But tarts are a thing of glory to me- I dream about making them, I love their complicated, multi-step processes, and would be lying if I said I didn't love how impressive they look when done correctly.

Then there is also 'A Platter of Figs' by David Tanis. Just hearing his biography makes me want to jump into reading this book, in hopes that via osmosis my life will become vastly more interesting (part time head chef at Chez Panisse, part time resident of Paris who runs an occasional supper club). He's got a good bit of recipes for duck in there, which is always a good thing.

I'm still looking for a good, comprehensive book on olives....