Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sara Moulton: Tarte au Pommes (French Apple Tart)

I know it's probably a bit late to be blogging about Thanksgiving festivities, but this time of year I always feel like I have too much to do, and no time to do it in. For this year's Thanksgiving, my family had a pretty normal spread, but I did bring a newcomer to the table. For dessert I contributed a French Apple Tart that I saw Sara Moulton cook, but it's in Gourmet magazine, and much harder to make than she lets on. Everything was delicious, and we all ate until our stomachs were ready to split open, so I feel the cooking was successful in every way!

Tarte au Pommes (French Apple Tart)
From Sara Moulton

1 recipe Pastry Dough
6 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, halved and sliced -inch thick
¼ cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons (½ stick) cold butter, sliced thin
½ cup apricot jam, heated and strained
Vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream, as an accompaniment

Preheat oven to 375°F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough into a 13-inch round and fit it into a 10-inch tart tin with a removable fluted rim, trimming the excess.  Arrange the apples decoratively on the pastry shell, overlapping them.  Sprinkle the sugar on top of the apples, top with butter slices, and bake in the middle of the oven for 45 minutes or until the crust is cooked through and the apples are golden.  Brush with the heated apricot jam while the tart is still hot.  Serve each portion with a small scoop of ice cream or a small spoonful of whipped cream.

Pastry Dough

1 stick cold unsalted butter
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons ice water

To blend by hand: Blend together flour, butter, and salt in a bowl with your fingertips or a pastry blender until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal (roughly pea-size lumps).  Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water evenly over and gently stir with a fork until incorporated.

To blend in a food processor: Pulse together flour, butter, and salt in a food processor until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal (roughly pea-size lumps).  Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse 2 to 3 times, or just until incorporated.

Test mixture:  Gently squeeze a small handful: it should hold together without crumbling apart.  If it doesn't, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring or pulsing 2 to 3 times after each addition until incorporated (keep testing).  If you overwork the mixture or add too much water, the pastry dough will be tough.

Form dough:  Turn out onto a work surface and divide into 4 portions.  With heel of your hand, smear each portion once in a forward motion to help distribute the fat.  Gather the dough together and form it, rotating it on the work surface, into a disk.  Chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Emeril Lagasse: Southern Cooked Greens

While I am certainly a southerner, I wasn't raised to eat that way, unfortunately (fortunately for my waist?).  My mom was taught to cook by her mother, who in turn was taught to cook by her mother-in-law, and all of those dishes were German and Irish.  Nothing southern there.  Just lots of meat and potatoes.  And more potatoes.  So when I moved to Texas, I was introduced to a whole new world of delicious soul food.  The kind that makes you feel all warm and happy down in the pit of your being.  A half a pound of bacon does the body good.

Southern Cooked Greens
From Emeril Lagasse

½ pound raw bacon, chopped
3 cups onions, julienned
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
2 tablespoons shallots, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 (12-ounce) bottle Dixie beer
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
6 pounds greens, such as mustard, collard, or turnip

In a large pot, render the bacon until crispy, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes or until the onions are wilted.  Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and cayenne.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Stir in the beer, vinegar, and molasses.  Stir in the greens, a third at a time, pressing the greens down as they start to wilt.  Cook the greens, uncovered, for about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Makes 8 servings