Tarte tatinby Sarah McColl, Shine staff
The best thing about the changing seasons--aside from freshly sharpened pencils, the changing light, and kids holding footballs--is the whole new crop of seasonal foods to get excited about. My favorite fall food? Apples, always apples. And my favorite way to use them? Tarte tatin.
I have kind of a soft spot for rustic French cooking. It's not fussy, but it still feels special, and trying the recipes means I can pretend I'm in a farmhouse surrounded by lavender, instead of, you know, in my apartment surrounded by dirty, noisy city streets. (What is cooking if not a chance to imagine our ideal selves, am I right?)
Tarte tatin, if you've never made it, is just upside-down apple pie. But it's also so much more than that. Caramelized sugar, apples, and rich pastry result in something buttery and gorgeous that doesn't feel too heavy. It's my favorite fall baking treat. Sound intimidating (even though I swear it's not)? The Food Network's Anne Burrell shows how to make it, and the marvelous Dorie Greenspan demonstrates that infectious moment of excitement when you bravely flip the tart and reveal something sensational. It just never gets old.
So that's my favorite way to use fall apples. What's yours? (And have you ever made tarte tatin and are you as crazy about it as I am?)
After a bit of a short cut? Frozen puff pastry takes the place of homemade, so you don't have to bother with the dough--meaning you might as well try this tonight!
from Gourmet via Epicurious
frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-ounce package)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
7 to 9 Gala apples (3 to 4 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cored
Special equipment: a well-seasoned 10-inch cast-iron skillet
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Roll pastry sheet into a 101/2-inch square on a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. Brush off excess flour and cut out a 10-inch round with a sharp knife, using a plate as a guide. Transfer round to a baking sheet and chill.
Spread butter thickly on bottom and side of skillet and pour sugar evenly over bottom. Arrange as many apples as will fit vertically on sugar, packing them tightly in concentric circles. Apples will stick up above rim of skillet.
Cook apples over moderately high heat, undisturbed, until juices are deep golden and bubbling, 18 to 25 minutes. (Don't worry if juices color unevenly.)
Put skillet in middle of oven over a piece of foil to catch any drips. Bake 20 minutes (apples will settle slightly), then remove from oven and lay pastry round over apples. Bake tart until pastry is browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer skillet to a rack and cool at least 10 minutes.
Just before serving, invert a platter with lip over skillet and, using potholders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto platter. Replace any apples that stick to skillet. (Don't worry if there are black spots; they won't affect the flavor of the tart.) Brush any excess caramel from skillet over apples. Serve immediately.