26 August 2010

the contessa

Taylor walked into work the other day with a Tupperware full of adorable miniature poppy seed cupcakes with ricotta in the centre and perfectly iced cream cheese tops. I physically removed myself from the situation because the potential consumption danger levels were off the charts.

She mentioned the recipe had come from an Ina Garten cookbook (I believe it was Barefoot Contessa at Home). I was so impressed by the culinary prowess Ina had clearly inspired in Taylor that I resolved to pick up one of her cookbooks as soon as possible. Which ended up being yesterday.

Now the new owner of Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, there is a treasure trove of sexy new recipes at my fingertips. I love food.

I have been on something of a dessert quest lately. Since my diet has been so lacking in high-fat foods due to no dairy or meat consumption, I seem to have developed a bit of a sweet tooth (and I've always previously been a salty person). Ina Garten has so kindly offered me her recipe for french apple tart and, with apples becoming increasingly plentiful locally, I think I will have to do some baking in the very near future.


For the pastry:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or sea salt or fleur de sel but no table salt, yuck)
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (1 & 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

For the apples:
4 granny smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm apricot jam (I'm guessing any kind of jam will work as long as you like it with apples)
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum or water (choose rum)

For the pastry, place flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour in the ice water and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Roll the dough slightly larger that 10x14 inches (or whatever size your baking sheet is). Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4 inch thick slices. Place overlapping slice of apples diagonally down the middle the tart (the dough on your pan is the tart at this point) and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. Sprinkle with the full half cup of sugar and dot with the small diced butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. The apple juices may burn in the pan but the tart will be fine. When the tart is done, heat the apricot jelly together with the rum and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Original recipe from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics: Fabulous Flavour from Simple Ingredients by Ina Garten, New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2008. Italics added by Aubrie C.
Images from Google Images.

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