Baking and cooking are two of the most relaxing acitivities in the world for me. They just plain make me happy. Messing around in the kitchen, whether I'm trying new recipes or making old favorites is practically therapy for me. I'm sure that's part of why the weekend we just had was such a wonderful one for me. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen.
This house came with a garden that they clearly neglected this spring, I guess because they were hoping to move. I still haven't identified most of the plants out there. However, I did figure out that part of it is an herb garden. I've got Basil and Thyme and Rosemary, and what I'm pretty sure is Sage. Pioneer Woman recently posted a recipe for Rosemary Rolls that looked so delicious I knew I had to make them. I've got a deep and abiding love for bread with rosemary. Her recipe used frozen dinner rolls, but in it she mentioned you could use the dough from her Cinnamon rolls recipe. I've been on a big no processed foods kick (or at least,an as few processed foods as possible kick) lately, so I decided to make the dough. I made a half batch, then split that in half and made 1/4 rosemary rolls and 1/4 cinnamon rolls. Both were absolutely delicious. I cheated on the cinnamon rolls and made my own frosting because I didn't have all the ingredients for PW's frosting. You can make a really simple frosting by mixing confectioners sugar with heavy cream. Or in my case, half and half, because we didn't have any heavy cream.
A couple of weeks ago we were watching something, probably Top Chef, and someone made a Tarte Tatin. I keep intending to make a Tarte Tatin, but then I never get around to it. Well, this weekend I got around to it! I made a modified version of Martha Stewart's Tarte Tatin, with help from Smitten Kitchen when I was worried my carmelized sugar didn't look right. Those photographs really do come in handy sometimes!
Tarte Tatin is like upside down cake, except it is an upside down pie. It is super apple-y and very delicious.
Start with a 1/2 batch of Martha's Pate Brisee (I've done the halving here):
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup ice water
Cut the flour, salt and sugar into the butter, either in a food processor or with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. I went with the pastry blender because I just didn't feel like hauling out the Cuisinart or cleaning it after.
Add ice water bit by bit either with the machine running or mixing it in by hand, just until the dough holds together. You want it to not be crumbly anymore, but you also want to avoid it getting too wet or sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Press into a flattish circle and chill for a least an hour.
3/4 of a cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 Tablespoons water
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 medium sized apples (Martha recommends Cortland, I used 4 Granny Smith and 4 Fuji), peeled, cored and quartered
In an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet (mine is 10 inches, it was fine) or other oven proof saute pan, combine the 3/4 cup sugar and the water. Bring the mixture to a boil, lower the heat and cook until it begins to thicken and turn amber colored. (Roughly 10 to 12 minutes for me, but I think I might have slightly undercooked it). Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Arrange your quartered apple slices in the sugar, cut side facing up, layering them until you have filled the pan. Sprinkle with the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Return the skillet to the stove and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. Keep a close eye on it and do not let the syrup burn. Remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Roll the pate brisee to a thickness of 1/8 of an inch, and place it over the apples in the skillet. Trim the edges to the outer rim of the skillet.
Bake the tart for about 20 minutes (took me 27) until the pastry is golden brown. Let it cool on a rack for 15 to 20 minutes, then run a sharp knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the tart. Place your serving plate over the top of the skillet, and then flip the whole thing over so the tart is inverted on to the plate, apple side up.
It is best served warm.