Bonjour et bienvenue to the twelfth issue of La Marmite featuring: La Tarte Tatin.
In this issue you will find:
The delightful story of the Tatin sisters and some tips for successful tart making.
Three recipes for variants on the original Tatin recipe.
Updates on all that is new at Easy French Food.
Call for help -- I have never made French bread because buying a daily baguette at the boulangerie
is part of living in France, but I know that some of you have enjoyed good results with your home baking
efforts. If you have any French bread baking tips you'd like to share with readers, we'd love to hear from
you. Share your thoughts about making French bread.
History of a Tart
You may already know that tarts are very popular here in France. A bit different then a pie, a tart usually
features a thinner layer of ingredients and bakes a bit quicker. Every French home cook knows how to whip up a
tasty tart and variations on ingredients are infinite.
Normally a tart is made by blind baking a pastry crust (which can be either a puff pastry or a pate brise), then adding a layer of ingredients
before baking again for 20 minutes or so.
But the Tarte Tatin is different. She is made upside down.
Legend has it that more then a century ago in the village of Lamotte-Beuvron in the heavily forested region of
Sologne, the Tatin sisters, Caroline and Stephanie, ran a popular restaurant. The young women catered to a
hunter crowd and one can imagine that their popularity wasn't just because of the food they served.
One morning, one of the Tatin sisters had her mind elsewhere (we are supposed to imagine her flirting with one of her
clients here) and popped an apple tart in the oven to bake. Somewhat later she spied the crust sitting on
the kitchen table and realized she had forgotten to line her pan.
Being an enterprising sort of gal, Mademoiselle Tatin opened the oven and placed the crust on top of the
baking apples. Later when her tart was done, she simply flipped it over and served it --
La Tarte Tatin was officially born!
Variations on the original apple tart Tatin
have come into vogue recently. Essentially you can make any sort of tart this way, if you bear in mind a
Expect the entire tart, including the crust, to be somewhat moister then a tart baked in the traditional manner.
Try making these tarts with both sweet and savory fillings.
If using store bought pastry (I do), buy high quality, uncooked pastry.
Butter or oil the bottom of the pan well to insure good release of ingredients.
Avoid using cheese as a first layer which may end up adhering to the dish.
Turn your tart over while it is still warm to prevent it from sticking.
You can reheat the tart after you have removed it from the pan in a hot oven.
Tarte tatin aux aubergines
6 ounces ground lamb (or beef)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 medium egg plants, cut in 1/4 inch slices
1 round of puff pastry
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Brown the ground lamb or beef on medium heat until cooked through. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and set aside.
Using a pastry brush, paint each side of the egg plant slices with olive oil. Cook the eggplant (working in batches) in a skillet on medium heat, turning occasionally. Cook until somewhat tender and slightly browned - about 6 to 8 minutes.
Grease a 9 or 10 inch baking pan. Line the pan with the eggplant arranged in overlapping concentric circles. Sprinkle the meat on top of this. Cover the tart with the pastry, tucking in the edges. Prick with a fork in several places.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in a 400 degree F oven until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for several minutes before flipping it over on a serving dish. To serve, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts.
You can vary this recipe to include what vegetables you have on hand. Bear in mind that tomatoes tend to be juicy and you my end up with a bit of a soggy crust if you don't drain them.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
4 mushrooms, sliced thinly
3 medium tomatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch rounds
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 round of puff pastry
Begin by draining the tomatoes in a sieve and cooking the other vegetables. Heat the olive oil on medium heat and stir in the onion. Cook for two minutes, then add the zucchini and mushrooms. Cook just long enough to tenderize the vegetables - they should still retain their shape - about 5 minutes. Season with thyme, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and allow to cool before you assemble the tart.
Layer the zucchini, mushrooms, and tomatoes in an attractive pattern on the bottom of a greased 9 or 10 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with the onion, then break the goat cheese into small pieces and evenly distribute it on top. Place the puff pastry on top and tuck in the edges. Prick in several places with a fork and bake at 400 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for several minutes before flipping the tart onto a serving dish.
Note: This recipe is a cinch, but you need an electric burner and a tart pan that you can use on the stove top (a metal pan is just fine - don't try this with a Pyrex or a ceramic dish). If you don't have an electric burner you can use a heat diffuser between a gas flame and the baking dish.
3 tablespoons softened butter, divided
1/2 cup sugar
16 to 20 fresh apricots, washed, pitted, and halved
1 round of pie crust (pate brise)
Heavily coat the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round metal tart pan with two tablespoons of the butter.
Sprinkle the pan evenly with the sugar. Place the apricots with their skin side down in the pan. They
should all be in one layer and nicely crowded.
Place the pan on a preheated (low to medium heat) electric burner. The sugar will melt and begin to caramelize. Remove the pan when the caramel has turned lightly brown everywhere. This takes between 10 and 15 minutes.
Allow the pan to cool enough so you can touch it (always be very careful with hot sugar), then dot the
fruit with the remainig tablespoon of butter cut into small pieces. Place the pie crust on top, tucking in
the edges around the fruit. Prick several times with a fork, then bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before flipping. Depending on the apricots, this is likely to be a bit runny, but no worries, it is absolutely delicious. Serve with vanilla ice cream (not too French, but oh so good.)