It is only fitting, the first recipe will be my interpretation of France’s delicious, caramelized apple upside-down pie, Tarte Tatin. It’s said the original Tarte Tatin was created by two sisters from North Central France, sometime around 1910. Still today there is much debated about which variety of apple to use. In spite of their lack-luster image, Golden Delicious are dependably a good choice. Over the years. I’ve tinkered with many recipes but finally settled on this one, a composite of two sources. I use a simple skillet and cover the handle with foil so it doesn’t melt when it goes in the oven. However, based on the recommendations of Deborah Mintcheff, there just might be a copper Tarte Tatin pan in my future. She assures me that a perfect landing from the pan to the serving platter is a sure thing with this pan.
Oatmeal Crust (adapted from Ken Haedrich, Dean of The Pie Academy - for more recipes check out his website here)
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsweetened butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch pieces
4 Tablespoons ice water
Blend oats and sugar in food processor until oats are finely ground. Blend in flour and salt. Add butter and process using on/off turns until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in ice water by tablespoons until mixture begins to clump together. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour (can be made up to two days ahead.)
Short cut: Use two 3-inch rounds frozen puff pastry, thawed. Place dough rounds together; rolls as directed above.
Caramelized Apples (adapted from Chef Vincent Scotto)
6- 8 Golden Delicious Apples, same size (Granny Smith or other tart cooking apples)
¼ cup sweet butter
½ cup Demerara or light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Calvados (or dark Rum)
2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
Pre-heat oven to 375 ° F.
Peel, core and quarter apples. In an 8-inch skillet (preferably non-stick), melt butter over medium heat; add sugar and Calvados, stirring until mixture is dissolved and starts to bubble, about 2 minutes. Stir in grated lemon peel. Remove from heat. Arrange apples quarters in a tight, circular fashion to fill the skillet. Place several apple wedges in center. Cut any remaining quarters in smaller pieces to fill in empty spaces. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture turns golden, about 20-25 minutes. Do not stir!
Take prepared pastry, roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 9-inch round, about 1/8 inch thickness. Carefully place dough round over skillet, tucking in any overhang. Bake 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden.
Set skillet on wire rack and allow to cool for 20 minutes.
To serve, carefully invert tarte onto plate. Serve warm with crème fraiche or unsweetened whipped cream. Makes 6-8 servings.
Wine Suggestion: A snifter of Calvados.