Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pineapple Tarte Tatin ~

Good morning everyone! I did my taxes on Monday all by myself--Turbo Tax. And not for the first time. Painfully and carefully, I filled in the forms and electronically mailed them. Both have been accepted. The government has realized that all the people who have a fixed income can be made to pay estimated taxes, so that's what I've been doing for a few years now. This year for the first time, the IRS sent me little checks to fill out and envelopes to mail them in. Unfortunately, the postage isn't paid. I've decided that as soon as they can figure out a way to take everything I have to live on, they'll send me even nicer envelopes and maybe even pay for the postage. Sorry! I'm not a fan of tax invasion.

But I AM a fan of tennis, and this week the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament is going on in Indian Wells, California. So far, Federer is looking good and playing very well. He's also playing doubles with his countryman, Stan Wawrinka. They aren't showing the doubles matches on television, but I think they should. Hmmm...for some reason, they aren't asking me what to do! The owner of the tournament is working to make it the best tournament around, and hopes to bring mixed doubles to the format soon. Sounds good, except that the new way of scoring doubles is icky.

Okay, now to the recipe. I was looking back at Avner Laskin's blog, because I saw a dessert that I thought we'd all like. The dessert is a Tarte Tatin, which has a story behind it. Whether it's true or not, it's funny and relatable for anyone who loves to cook. This is how Avner tells it.

The Story of Tarte Tatin

Tradition says that the Tarte Tatin was first created by accident at the Hotel Tatin in Lamotte-Beuvron, France in 1898. The hotel was run by two sisters, Stephanie and Caroline Tatin. Stephanie Tatin, who did most of the cooking, was overworked one day. She started to make the traditional apple pie but left the apples cooking in butter and sugar for too long. Smelling the burning, she tried to rescue the dish by putting the pastry base on top of the pan of apples, quickly finishing the cooking by putting the whole pan in the oven. After turning out the upside down tart, she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert. The Tarte became a signature dish at the Hotel Tatin and the recipe spread through the Sologne region. Its lasting fame is probably due to the restaurateur Louis Vaudable, who tasted the tart on a visit to Sologne and made the dessert a permanent fixture on the menu at his restaurant Maxim's of Paris. 

Avner's Tarte Tatin uses apples, but I can't give you his recipe because it's in metric. So I looked up other recipes and came up with a pineapple tart which I think you'll like. And, of course, you can use apples or any other fruit your family likes. I like the fact that you can use any fruit you have since it's so simple and can be pulled together quickly. This recipe is from BakingBites.com. Here is what the site has to say about making this recipe:

Tarte Tatin is an upside down tart made in a skillet, with a crust made of puff pastry. They're typically made with apples, but the tarts can actually be made with a wide variety of fruits. This is a Pineapple Tarte Tatin made with cubes of fresh pineapple. The tart has a great combination of buttery pastry dough, sweet caramel and even sweeter pineapple. 
The tarts are extremely easy to make because of the way they use a skillet. A caramel sauce is cooked in the skillet on the stovetop and fruit is added into it. A sheet of puff pastry is then draped over the cooked fruit and the edges of the pastry are tucked in around the filling mixture like a blanket. The whole skillet is then popped into the oven to allow the pastry to crisp up and then it is inverted onto a serving plate, revealing a beautifully caramelized fruit tart. 

It is imperative that you use an oven safe skillet to make this tart, so I recommend using an all-metal pan--stainless steel or cast iron--to cook and make sure you have a heavy duty oven mitt available when it is time to take the tart out of the oven. 

I used fresh pineapple for this tart--a medium-sized pineapple should give you enough fruit, but you can also use canned pineapple. The tart goes exceptionally well with extra caramel sauce and with coconut ice cream, although it is very nice to eat on its own. This kind of tart is best when it is fresh out of the oven and the pastry is nice and crispy, so make it at the last minute whenever possible. 

Pineapple Tarte Tatin
Serves 6-8

1 10-12 inch sheet puff pastry (homemade or storebought and defrosted)
16 ounces fresh or canned pineapple, cubed
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Place butter in a 10-inch oven-safe skillet over medium heat and let it melt. Add in sugar, fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Pour the lemon juice around the outside of the pan to moisten the sugar. Bring mixture to a boil and cook until it turns a deep golden color, 3-5 minutes.
Add in pineapple chunks and stir with a spatula to coat. Cook 2-3 minutes to soften pineapple. Remove from heat. 
Roll out pastry sheet on a very lightly floured surface until it is large enough to cover the fruit when laid over the pan. If there is excess pastry, that is fine. It should be slightly larger than the pan. 
Drape the pastry over the pineapple and tuck any excess pastry in around the edges of the fruit. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until pastry is crispy and a very deep golden brown. Allow to rest for about 2 minutes on the stove top.
Working very carefully, place a large serving plate on top of the skillet and invert the tart onto the serving plate. 
Serve immediately, with ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

And amazingly, one of those surprising coincidences happened in the evening after I'd looked up many recipes for Tarte Tatin. I was watching Jamie Oliver's show, and he made an Apple Tarte Tatin! So I got to see exactly how he made it. The difference is that he doesn't use puff pastry, but makes his own pastry crust. So I was going to give you his recipe for pastry, but decided to let you use one of your own. Get all your ingredients together and decide which pastry you want to use on your tart. The family will enjoy this dessert this weekend! The picture of the flowers was taken by Quinlyn. Thanks, Q!



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