Thursday, March 22, 2012
hungry thursday: on rue tarte tatin
I borrowed Yotam Ottolenghi's latest cookbook Plenty from the library on the weekend. Do you guys ever read a cookbook and want to eat absolutely everything in it?! This was one of those :)
I've also been a bit of a Masterchef junkie these past few weeks in the lead up to the final and often wonder how I might cope with some of the Michelin star tasks the contestants have to do. I'd like to think of myself as a good cook but I think my technical skills are not quite up there! I can pull together a tasty meal that looks pretty good if I make the effort, I can make cakes and biscuits, bread and jam, pesto, tomato sauce and mayonnaise (it wasn't a hugely successful attempt I hasten to add!). But I've never made my own pastry after a disaster with shortcrust about 12 years ago, and the only time I have made homemade pasta was aged 10 with the aid of a rolling pin - it was more like boiled bits of dough than pasta! I remember my poor family very gallantly choking it down.
I am trying to add more dishes to my repertoire, especially ones that require a bit more technique, and also do a bit of a 101 Cookbooks style experiment and actually cook the recipes from the cookbooks I read, rather than just devouring them like novels where the main characters are main courses :)
The recipe for surprise tatin in Plenty intrigued me immediately. I had lots of potatoes to use up and some puff pastry in the freezer. There is a caramel at the bottom, like the conventional sweet tarte tatin, and it works surprisingly well with the vegetables. As I'm still going strong with dairy-free, I substituted the goats cheese in the original recipe for mushrooms. Obviously mushrooms don't melt (!) but I've found they work brilliantly where you want a really strong savoury flavour, not unlike cheese. They are now my favourite omelette filling too :)
It's a lovely meal when you feel like having something a bit special - and have a nice bottle of wine to go with it too! Ideal if you're entertaining people who eat dairy free as well! It's so filling too, it only needs a green salad or some simple green vegetables on the side.
Potato tarte tatin
Based on Yotam Ottolenghi's surprise tatin in Plenty
200g sundried tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus cooking spray for the tin
500g potatoes (keep the skins on)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 giant portobello mushroom, or 150g smaller mushrooms, sliced
40g caster sugar
10g dairy free spread (or butter)
Fresh parsley or thyme
1 puff pastry sheet, rolled thinly (I use Jus Rol, which are dairy free)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Cook the potatoes in boiling water for about 25 minutes. Drain and let them cool. Trim the bottom and top of the potatoes and then cut into discs (about 2cm thick). Set aside.
Saute the onion in the olive oil with some salt until brown. Set aside.
Spray a round cake tin (22cm diameter) with cooking spray and line the bottom with baking paper.
In a small pan, cook the sugar and spread/butter on a high heat, stirring constantly, to get a semi-dark caramel. Take it off the heat once it is nearing a dark brown. Mine was very dark (because I turned my back for a minute, bad me!) but it was still fine! So do watch it and if what happens to me happens to you just taste it - if it's too bitter you'll have to start again! But be careful, hot caramel burns like fire.
Pour the caramel into the tin and tilt it to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom. Chop your thyme and/or parsley and scatter evenly over the caramel base. Place a layer of potato slices over the top of the caramel, making sure they are close together. Gently press the sundried tomatoes, onions and mushroom slices into the gaps. Season with salt and pepper.
Take the sheet of pastry and check it will over the tart, with a bit to spare. Roll it a bit if it isn't. Then lay it over the tart filling and gently tuck the edges down around the potatoes.
Bake the tart in the oven for 40 minutes or until the pastry is cooked and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 2 minutes. Hold an inverted plate firmly over the top of the tin and quickly (but carefully!) turn them over. Lift off the tin and remove the baking paper. Serve hot or warm.
It's one of those dishes you might imagine they would have served up at Café les Deux Moulins in the movie Amélie. So serve up your delicious potato tarte tatin and feel yourself transported to a small Parisian neighbourhood bistro :)