Spring Has Sprung (Tart Tatin)
Spring is in the air - rejoice! The delicate blooms of young flowers are peeking out from a cold slumber. (Hello!) It's so exciting. The past decade I spent in Manhattan and I never really experienced the subtle change of the season quite like this. Here in Austria, I am surrounded by nature. I see and feel the slow awakening. In the city, I was surrounded by steel and concrete... and if I didn't take the train to Central Park, I would never actually see for myself that Spring has arrived. I think the biggest and loudest signal of late Spring was the Cherry Blossom Festival.
This weekend, I saw the first few flowers venturing out. I am constantly looking at all of the fruit trees and spidery vines to see first signs of buds and tender leaves. I want to find them so I can point them out to El & Lil. I'd like for them to make a connection with the plants and the changing seasons.
I was also inspired (driven by an urge) to rehabilitate some of last season's used soil - picking out old roots and rocks and adding some nutrients back to the soil. Apparently, there's a good reason why playing with dirt is good for you. I repotted my Clematis and started a few seeds - tomatoes, Delphiniums, and chives. I had a really good first terrace garden last year... although I lost many of my plants when I brought them inside - dry heat + overwatering = death!!!
So, this year, I'm determined to plant more things I can harvest and EAT!
We also hit the Farmer's Market here in Hall. Freshest veggies, homemade cheeses, breads, and spreads. It's so wonderful that we have our local farmers coming in to sell their foods every week. We scored a ton of fresh veggies - which then became a big pot of Beef and Vegetable Soup. Lately, I've been making a weekend batch of soup to tide us for whenever hunger hits. Why didn't I think of this sooner!
Another recent discovery is the delicious Elstar Apple. This apple is sweet, tart, crisp - delish! The girls eat them fresh... and I also discovered they are a star player in a Tart Tatin.
Back in Manhattan, I've made Tart Tatin about a half dozen times (It's my husband's favorite dessert!). And, out of those attempts only ONE has been perfect. I learned that the type of apple matters - Macintosh definitely better for applesauce! I learned that you can pre-cook (or not) the cut apples - I tend to precook because I like a softer apple (but again, this depends on the type of apple, because too much can result in mush). I also continue cooking the sauce for a darker caramel color. A pale tart tatin doesn't look right to me.
This attempt is the closest I've come to the perfect Tart Tatin.
*Adapted loosely from Epicurious
* Print Version
* Puff pastry (store bought is a life saver!)
* 6-8 apples (peeled, quatered, cored)
* 1/2 stick (1/4C) butter
* 3/4 - 1C sugar
1. Preheat oven to temperature instructed for puff pastry
2. Melt Butter, then add sugar.
3. Soften apples - not too soft... use your eyes... see that the exterior is softened but the interior maintains its bite. Remove before cooking them completely - they will continue to cook in the oven.
4. Continue caramelizing the sugar, butter, apple juices... remove from heat when it hits that deep amber color. (If you keep going, you will get burnt sauce - yuck)
5. Arrange the apples (cut side up) in a nice circular pattern in a cast iron skillet.
6. Use a similar diameter plate and cut out the puff pastry.
7. Pour the carmelized sauce over the apples - shake the pan around a bit getting the sauces in between and under the apples.
8. Cover with the puff pastry disk.
9. Bake according to the package instructions.
10. Let cool slightly.
11. To flip - hold a large plate above the skillet and flip in one fail swoop. Pour the remaining caramel-y sauce over the apples.
12. Devour with a bucket of whipped cream.