Someday, I won't leave restaurant reviews to languish for so long that they'll no longer be worth finishing when I get back around to them. I'll recognize passing fancies for what they are, so that I don't have random notes about syllabub and earl grey sachertorte staring at me every time I open my "idle thoughts" Word file. Someday, I'll be disciplined enough that I won't need an "idle thoughts" Word file.
Or so I've been telling myself for the past two years. It's all become rather moot in the past two months.
Lately, I haven't had to worry about finding the time to blog. I haven't been scrambling to get posts published so that they don't get lost before I start the next round. I haven't been trying to keep abreast of everything I've cooked. I haven't been doing much cooking at all.
I've been sidetracked from my plans to move to Sydney. My parents aren't quite willing to let go of their dream of having a lawyer in the family, and so everything's been up in the air. I'm not really in a place where I can cook new and interesting things, but I've got a lot of empty space in my schedule.
"Someday," it seems, is now. A tentative glance at the disaster that is my drafts folder reveals that I have no shortage of material. Even if I can't cook, I can certainly blog. So until I get back into a cooking space, I'll be going over some of the dishes from the past three years that I just didn't have time to write up the first time around.
Let me begin with a recipe from the I-really-meant-to-write-about-this-honestly-I-swear-it-just-got-away-from-me list.
Tarte Tatin was supposed to be the logical follow-up to my puff pastry tutorial. It's a French classic: an upside-down tart with a puff pastry base and a topping of caramelized apples. Of all the things you can do with homemade puff pastry, it's one of the simplest, and possibly the most delicious.
When I made this, I remembered to take photos and I wrote up the recipe, but the blog post got lost somewhere between my retelling of Peter Rabbit and my first O.N.C.E. dinner. I think this dates from winter of 2008, so it's a belated post by well over a year. I'm consoling myself with the fact that I rediscovered it in time for this year's apple season, at least.
Instructions for homemade puff pastry may be found here.
(Makes one seven-inch tart.)
Set a seven-inch, oven-safe pan (cast iron is good) over very low heat. Place a quarter-stick of salted butter in the pan and let it melt, swirling to coat. Sprinkle over a quarter-cup of white sugar and a generous pinch of salt.
Take two large apples (I like Granny Smith, but any tart cooking variety will do), peel them, and core them. Cut the apples into eigths and arrange them in the pan in rings. Don’t worry if they don't fit quite properly – they're going to cook down. Bring the heat up to low.
Keep the contents of the pan at a steady simmer. The apples will soften, and the liquid in the pan will thicken and darken. (If you're using a dark-colored pan, like cast iron, dip a spoon in the liquid every so often to check on the color.) Once the liquid turns deep caramel, turn off the heat.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Roll out a square of puff pastry to a size a little larger than the pan. Place it over the apples. Cut five slits in the pastry, radiating outwards. (This helps the pastry to rise.)
Place the pan in the oven with a baking tray beneath, just in case the apple mixture bubbles and drips. Bake for forty to fifty minutes, or until the pastry puffs and browns.
Remove the pan from the oven, and turn the tart out on a serving plate. If any of the apples get stuck, use a fork to rearrange them. Serve immediately with whipped cream or ice-cream on the side.