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The Apple That Caught My Eye

Hey everyone! I hope that everyone has had a great week! I know I have. I actually decided to go out and find the cafe that Ina Garten visited in Georgetown last week, Patisserie Poupon. So it’s wayyyyyyyyyy out in G-town, like up north, so if you’re planning on going, you’ll want to drive, take an Uber or wear hiking boots. Me being me, I decided to wear boots and walk the distance because I figured it would be scenic. All was good until about half way in and I learned it was farther out than expected…I kept pushing and ended up being on the receiving end of a blister. I had a simple ham and cheese croissant as the place was really small and I didn’t really see too much that was inviting among the counter. I’d kind of like to find out why Ina picked that location to visit. Not that it was bad, but I feel like there are better places in the G-town and DC area that are more accessible and have more of a selection. Ina, if you ever decide to come to DC again, I am offering my services of being a chauffeur around the city to all the food places.

Ok, back to cooking. This week at the Farmer’s Market in DC I found some interesting apples from the selection there. Calville Blanc are heirloom apples which hail from France and were brought to the United States via none other than Thomas Jefferson himself and were planted in Monticello.

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I’ve recently visited Monticello, and Mr. Jefferson had quite the green thumb. He also had an interest in France, architecture in particular. If you’re ever in Virginia, I suggest you take a visit. It is something you can easily make a whole day out of.

After spotting these apples, I knew EXACTLY what I had to make. Ina’s French Apple Tart. Ina her book, she states that this is her favorite dessert to make because it is simple and really highlights the quality of the apples. She recommends Granny Smith apples because they are hearty enough to withstand baking and are easily found in many grocery stores. I used the Calville Blanc apples because, well they both are French and from a local source, but because they too are a good baking apple. At least the lady at the market said so.

The tart is very simple to make. It’s a thin layer of crust (you can use puff pastry if you want it to be extra easy), a layer of apples, and then sugar and butter sprinkled over the top to caramelize the whole thing.

My sous chef rolling out the dough. :D

My sous chef rolling out the dough. 😀

The only issue I had was that the butter basically melted and ran off the side of the tart so I had to baste it to make sure the whole tart caramelized. I’m going to be honest – the tart is good but the edges are Heaven. The butter and sugar caramelize around the perimeter of the entire tart and get really crisp and delicious.

Pre-bake masterpiece

Pre-bake masterpiece

This thing is so good, it’s like angels cried upon on it then served it to me on a silver platter. Don’t believe me? Try it. And while you’re at it – slap some butter pecan or french vanilla ice cream on top and thank me later.

Of course, I had to have wine because wine not? Pardon the pun. Anyway, I chilled some Porter and Plot Chardonnay that I received from Winc and poured a glass to go with.

Transport me to Napa!

Transport me to Napa!

This Chardonnay is fantastic. The grapes come from a vineyard in Napa – known for it’s Chardonnay. It also has the oakiness which in my opinion is necessary for a good Chardonnay. Even with the oaking, I still tasted a lot of fruit, apple in particular which is why this wine paired so well with this recipe. By the way – did I mention that this wine was only $13. Kind of unheard of for a Napa Chardonnay. Or really any wine from that area. Your first bottle is free if you want to try Winc out by clicking here: https://www.clubw.com/2lhy61q4ll7.

Print Recipe
French Apple Tart
From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 191.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Pastry
For the Apple Topping
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
For the Pastry
For the Apple Topping
Instructions
Making the Pastry
  1. Place the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl. Add the butter and using a pastry blender or a fork and knife, cut the butter into the flour until you the butter is incorporated and is the size of small peas. (You can also use a food processor for this step). Pour in the ice water a few tablespoons at a time while mixing until the dough comes together into a loose ball. Dump onto a floured board and knead into a ball (don't overknead the dough). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Shaping the Pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with either parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. Roll the dough to about 10 x 14 inches and trim the edges to make a rectangle. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and place in the refrigerator.
Apples!
  1. Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Using a melon baller or a small knife, core the apples and remove the stem. Slice the apples thinly lengthwise and arrange them however you wise on the pastry. Ina suggests on a diagonal. Continue until the pastry is covered with apples. Sprinkle with the sugar and dot with the butter.
  2. Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. You may want to check every 15 minutes or so and baste the tart with any butter or juice that has run off. When the tart is done, remove from the oven to cool. Heat the jelly and water in a pan or the microwave and pour through a sieve to remove any lumps of apricot. Brush the glaze over the entire tart to make it nice and shiny! Loosen the tart from the pan to ensure that the caramel doesn't stick. Serve warm or room temperature.
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Farmer’s Market Find

September is in full swing and it is time for the fall fruit to being showing up the local farmer’s market. This past weekend I stumbled upon some Italian prune plums which are the variety that are dried to make the prunes that you purchase at the store (hence the name).

Beautiful Italian Prune Plums from the local Farmer's Market

Beautiful Italian Prune Plums from the local Farmer’s Market

This particular variety is only available for a very short period in early September and as soon as I found them I knew I had to make Ina Garten’s Plum Crunch recipe. One of her core tenants is to use in season fruits and veggies. This is when they have the most flavor and often times, are most affordable since they are so abundant.

I decided to stock up on extras and freeze some for later. If you want to do the same, there are several steps you should follow:

  1. Wash and dry them thoroughly and prep them while you’re at it. I sliced these in half and removed the pit from the middle.
  2. Lay them out in a single layer on a tray or plate to freeze them for about 4-5 hours. Freezing them this way first ensures that won’t stick together later on. Do this step no matter what kind of fruit your are freezing – it really does work.
  3. Place them in an air tight container or zip-top bag and place in the freezer for storage. They will stay good for months and you can have Italian plums in the middle of winter!

Since I was basically making this for myself, I decided to use a small ramekin to bake it in which held about 10 ounces of plums (about 6). I cut the crisp part into fourths, and froze  what I didn’t use so I can make another one later on with the frozen plums from above.

Sliced Plums

Ina is all about adding ingredients to bring out the flavor of the main ingredient(s) in a dish. In this recipe, she recommends creme de cassis which is a black currant liqueur. I’m sure it does add great flavor to the dish but I’m not about to go out and buy a whole bottle of liqueur just to utilize in one recipe – albeit that Ina does recommend that you can mix the liqueur with white wine or champagne to make kir or kir royale (sounds super fancy – right?). However, I just used lemon juice with a tiny bit of vanilla. The acidity from the lemon will bring out the flavor of the plums just fine and also mix with the flour and sugar to create the “goo” that is a staple for any good crisp recipe. I also added my own twist to this by adding cinnamon to the topping. Just about a quarter of a teaspoon adds a little warmth and it totally appropriate for the start of fall.

Pre-bake!

Pre-bake!

Lastly, just something to keep in mind – when baking or even cooking using fruit, try to choose fruit that are not quite ripe yet. If the fruit is overripe, it will turn to mush when cooked whereas when under ripe, it will soften and still hold its shape.

P.S. – I don’t think anyone would mind if you served this with some ice cream… 🙂

Plum Crunch with Ice cream

Enjoy!

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Print Recipe
B2B #9: Plum Crunch
A new take on a crisp using seasonal Italian Prune Plums. From Back to Basics by Ina Garten, page 205
Servings
people
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
Servings
people
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. For the fruit - in a large bowl, combine the plums, brown sugar, flour and cassis (or lemon juice and vanilla). Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish, pie plate, or individual ramekins.
  3. For the topping - combine the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, walnuts, cinnamon, and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is the size of peas. Scatter evenly over the plum mixture.
  4. Bake the plum crunch for 40 to 45 minutes. I recommend that you place the dish on a baking sheet with either foil or parchment paper because it will bake over and will catch the drippings. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream.
Recipe Notes

Plums not your thing? You can use peaches that are in season - just make sure they are under ripe so they don't cook to mush.

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