Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tarte Tatin

What better way to settle election night jitters than to pile ginger ice cream on top of a warm slice of sweet, caramely tarte tatin?!

homemade sea salt caramel in the refrigerator
at least 4 pounds of heirloom apples in my vegetable bin (thank you Out on a Limb apple CSA!)
some puff pastry and ice cream from the store

Done, done and done!


Here is the original recipe from delicious. magazine. (what's that? you haven't hear of this amazing British food magazine?  Go.  Go and find it now. Try Longfellow Books. Order it if you must.).  As mentioned above, I already had caramel from another recipe, so I didn't make it from scratch tonight, but it's fairly quick to make.  And don't be afraid of the flip out of the pan.  Do it over the sink in case caramel drips out.  The key is confidence and a snap of the wrist.  You can do it!

Salted Caramel Tarte Tatin

8 mid to small sized apples - tart or middle of the road, not too sweet
3/4 cup sugar
3 T water
3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tsp Maine sea salt
one round of puff pastry (most boxes have 2, put the other back in the freezer)

  1. *Peel, core and slice the apples in half. Don't worry if they brown on the counter because the caramel covers that up.
  2. Heat an 8 inch, ovenproof skillet over low heat with the sugar and water.  Stir until sugar has melted and then turn up heat to low medium and let it bubble gently for about 5 minutes until it turns a caramel, brown color (keep an eye on it so it doesn't burn).
  3. Take the caramel off the heat right away and stir in the butter (it will foam quite a bit).  Sprinkle the sea salt over the caramel and then arrange the apples, cut side up.  Trim apples to fit them in snugly as they will shrink in the oven.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Put the pan back on low/low medium for about 5 minutes. Then let it cool completely.
  6. If you have a block of puff pastry, then roll it to the thickness of a quarter.  If you have a rectangle or circle then use it as is.  Place the pastry on the skillet and trim the dough to the edge of the pan.  Tuck the edges down over the apples.
  7. Bake the tarte for about 30 minutes until the top is dark golden.
  8. Let it cool for 5 minutes.  Then place a large plate over the top of the skillet and flip in one swift move.
Serve warm with your favorite ice cream.  Vanilla bean, coffee, ginger or coconut are all excellent choices!

*Save those peels!  Dip them in peanut butter, dehydrate them for a crisp snack, freeze them in cubes for a fun way to keep apple juice cool or steep them in boiling water with a cinnamon stick, strain and add honey for some homemade tea.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tidbits and leftovers

Tonight we warmed up with the last two servings of a delicious, spicy butternut squash soup topped with salted pumpkin seeds in sage oil.  On the side, we slathered the last two slices of my walnut currant bread with goat cheese.  For greens, a salad with a winter personality: I massaged balsamic dressing into raw kale (yes, it was very relaxed afterwards) and added dried cranberries, oranges and toasted sunflower seeds. And finally, the last three gingerx4 cookies - 1 1/2 each with a mug of orange cinnamon tea.

Tidbits and leftovers rock.

You'll love making this soup at home.  It's tasty, it goes well with grilled cheese and it makes extra so you can freeze some for a busy night.

I saw the folks from Karmasouptra making it on 207 last month and added my own twists.  Spice it to match your tastes.  Butternut squash goes well with so many different flavors from sage to cayenne to maple.

1. Seed, peel and cube one medium butternut squash.
2. Drizzle generously with maple syrup, sprinkle with cinnamon, salt, pepper and coriander and roast on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees until tender and golden.
3. Meanwhile, in a soup pot, saute:
     1 medium diced onion
     2 medium diced carrots
     3 medium diced celery stalks
     1 T crushed red pepper (or to taste)
     salt and pepper
4. Add 1 - 2 cups of water and simmer until all veggies are tender (start with 1 cup and add more later if it's too thick).
5. Add roasted squash to pot, scraping in all the syrup, spices and juices from the pan (amazing flavor!!).  Puree with an immersion blender or ladle into a blender in batches.
6. Back in the pot, stir in 1/2 cup or so of yogurt.
7. Taste and season to your liking.

Serve with toasted, salted pumpkin seeds on top OR fresh sage OR a drizzle of olive oil and chards of gruyere.  Especially tasty when eaten with a grilled cheese on hearty multigrain bread and a mix of gruyere and cheddar cheeses.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sunday Romping, Baking & Eating

A day as sunny and beautiful as this one calls for a long romp at the beach, so we promptly packed Kia into the car and headed to Pine Point beach.  The people strolled, collected shells, wiggled toes in the sand and threw sticks into the sea.  The dog raced across the sand, charged through the waves and swam after endless sticks with boundless energy.  Now, the dog looks like this:

Today was also a day of baking.  For breakfast, we had baked oatmeal with Maine blueberries, orange zest, walnut and pecans.  Served warm and topped with cranberry or pumpkin greek yogurt from Swallowtail Farm.  For lunch, leftovers from last night's dinner.  I was inspired by 1. ) a recipe from this amazing Mediterranean cookbook by Silven Rowe:

and 2.) by the fresh veggies and breakfast sausage I snagged at the market yesterday.  I simmered brown rice and raisins in red wine, added sauteed onions, garlic, red pepper, swiss chard, fresh oregano and sausage, and then folded in a container of feta cheese.  I lined a cast iron skillet with layers of phylo dough brushed with olive oil, filled the dough with rice mixture and then layered on more dough.  I brushed the top with olive oil and browned the packet on the top of stove before putting it into the oven to bake for a bit.  It turned out quite yummy and make plenty for two more lunches.

For my weekly snacks on sale at Dunne & Roman music school in Yarmouth, I baked Maple Date Orange bars and toasted some Spicy, Sweet & Salty nuts: cashews, almonds and pumpkin seeds with chili powder, cinnamon, salt, cayenne and honey. I also baked two loaves of whole wheat bread - one filled with peanuts, honey and salt and the other with sundried tomatoes, herb olive oil and balsamic vinegar. We decided to make dinner sandwiches of the savory bread and slathered them with avocado, Kennebec Cheesery's sundried tomato & red pepper goat cheese and salad greens - delicious!

Looking for recipes from any of the meals mentioned above? Just post a comment and I'll include them in a future post!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Food IS community

When we first moved to Oppenheim, our German neighbors would walk downtown almost daily to get fresh bread from the bakery, a cut of meat from the butcher or fresh vegetables from the market for the evening meal.  Meanwhile, our refrigerator was packed with groceries from the bimonthly trip to the commissary on base.  It didn't take us long to learn from the locals, and we began to frequent the bakery up the hill for crusty loaves of dark bread, the small tavern in the square for spiced Goulash soup and the food stand on the main drag that served spiced, roasted hanchen (chicken) and pomme frites, packed into a bag piping hot for the short bike ride home.

As an adult living in southeast Maine, I, too have access to an array of delicious, local markets and food artisans.  I made my weekly visit to the Portland Farmer's Market this cool, fall morning and wound my way through the stalls of autumn vegetables, winter squash, apples, cheese, sausage and yogurt.

The market just makes me happy.

So many people coming together to share fresh, local food.
Farmers and producers sharing their passion for growing and making clean, delicious food directly with the folks eating it.
A community connecting, overlapping, mingling and interacting.
No rushing or grumbling lines.
People stop to say hello and have a conversation or to listen to the guitar music or to chat with their farmer.

That's what food is about.  It's about community, from its source to the market, to the way you prepare it with care to share with those you love.

So no matter where you find your local food, whether it's at a market, a mom & pop store, a food cart or a bakery down the street, may you find the community connected to it.

That's food worth sharing.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Food + Books = Joy

Naturally, you all know that it is NaBloPoMo.....what's that you say?  This ridiculous sounding pseudo-acronym is not in your everyday vernacular?!?  Let me translate for you.  It's National Blog Posting Month, during which bloggers are encouraged to write with abandon, throwing aside excuses, propping open tired eyes with toothpicks as needed, in order to post once each day.  As you can see, I'm off to a slow start since it's already the second day of the month.  But I'm not going to dwell on it.  Instead, I'm going to blog.

About food, of course.

I just happened to stop by First Foodie Friday at Longfellow Books downtown tonight.  I MAY have casually showed up to get my signed copies of two new, local cookbooks and nosh on their amazing edibles.

OK - fine.

So I was there early attempting not to hover anxiously over the table as the folks from Standard Baking Co. piled chunks of herbed focaccia and towers of sesame cheddar shortbread on the table in front of an enticing plate layered with dark, rich chocolate sables (WHOLE cookies, not stingy morsels!).  And I was the first person in line to get my copy of their cookbook, Pastries, signed by head pastry chef Tara Smith and one of the owners, Alison Pray.  Alison couldn't have been more sincere and engaging.  She wanted to know about my experience and connection with the bakery and was very supportive of my home baking adventures.  She spoke passionately about the joy of making people happy with delicious food and took the time to wish me good luck with Molly's Wild Roots.

I shall now double my purchases at Standard Baking!

Actually, I can't wait to crack open the cookbook and get into my own kitchen.  My favorite gingerbread with lemon icing and granola bars are in the book as well as their amazing almond croissants.  There are sections on breakfast pastries, tarts, cakes, cookies, sweet & savory snacks, and basic recipes (dough, caramel sauce, fillings, frangipane, etc...) in the book.  I am hoping this one will sell like hot cakes so they come out with a second volume all about bread.  I am dying to have the recipe for their fig anise sourdough.

As I sucked down the treats on the table, they were quickly supplemented with *local goat cheese, pesto and Lutenica sauce (made with red peppers, eggplant and chillies) that were added to the table by the creators of the second cookbook on hand, Extraordinary Recipes From Portland, Maine Chef's Table.  A husband and wife team (photographer and writer, respectively) took on the arduous task of visiting 47 Portland restaurants to sample food and chat with chefs (hello, do they need a volunteer for the next volume?). Margaret Hathaway provides the narrative around a sampling of recipes from each restaurant while Karl (our local Slow Food president), pairs the articles with beautiful photographs of chefs, their homes away from home and, of course, the food.  I'm pretty psyched about making the fried brussel sprouts from Green Elephant, Artemisia Cafe's Sunny Tartine and Swabian Spaetzle with Caramelized Onions & Emmenthal Cheese from Schulte & Herr.  Not to mention the baked goods like Grace's Beetroot Cupcakes with Lemon Curd & Mascarpone Frosting and the Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Icing from Aurora Provisions! Chris has already put in an order for Otto's famous Mashed Potato, Bacon & Scallion Pizza.

*NOTE: I had a very cool realization as I was writing this post that the goat cheese was quite local indeed, since I expect that it came from the Margaret & Karl's farm, Ten Apple Farm.  Margaret is the author of both The Year of the Goat and Living With Goats.  I have excellent skills of deductive reasoning.