Pacific Palate – Apple Fest

AuroraThis week on Pacific Palate, I celebrated apples, along with Canada’s newest apple, the Aurora Golden Gala.  The apple was developed at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland.  If you missed it this year, you won’t want to miss next year’s UBC Apple Festival. You could look at over 200 different varieties of apples, taste many of them, buy many of them, and learn so much about apples in a fun way it makes it a very entertaining family outing.  Of course once you buy the apples you have to eat them, so I have included a Tarte Tatin recipe I have made with some success over the years.  Depending on the size of your apples, you might want to cut them into quarters instead of halves.

Img_0084 Tarte Tatin Benoit              Serves 8

This recipe is from Patricia Wells’ ‘The Paris Cookbook’.  (Harper Collins, 2001)  It’s a recipe that you get better at making the more you do it.  So eat lots of apples in season!  I used Northern Spies for my tarte tatins, and they worked beautifully, but you could also use Golden Delicious, Jonagolds, Fujis, or Cox’s Orange Pippins.   You need a well-seasoned 9-inch cast iron skillet to make this recipe a success.

Ingredients:
¾ cup sugar
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into thin slices
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 pounds large apples, peeled, cored and halved lengthwise
1 package puff pastry, thawed
Whipped cream, crème fraiche or ice cream to top

1. Spread the sugar evenly over the bottom of the cast iron skillet.  Place the butter slices evenly over the sugar, then drizzle with the vanilla.  Beginning at the outside edge of the pan, stand the apple haves on end on top of the butter.  They should all face in one direction, with the rounded edge against the edge of the pan and the cut side toward the centre.  Pack the apples as close together as possible.  Make a second circle of apple halves inside the first.  Place one apple half in the centre of the circle to fill any remaining space.

2. Place the skillet over low heat and cook the apples in the butter and sugar, uncovered, until the butter/sugar mixture turns a thick, golden brown and just begins to caramelize.  This will take about an hour.  The liquid should remain at a gentle bubble.  Baste the apples from time to time to speed up their cooking and to make for evenly cooked fruit.  If the pieces lose their places a bit while cooking, you can nudge them back into formation.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 425F.

4. Take the skillet off the heat and place on top of a cookie sheet.  Roll out the thawed pastry to size on a lightly floured work surface, then drape it over top of the apples, gently pushing the edges of the pastry down around the edge of the pan and trimming any excess.  Place in the oven and bake until the pastry is golden, 25 to 30 minutes.  Do not be concerned if the juices bubble over, this is normal.

5. Remove the tart from the oven.  Immediately invert a serving plate over the skillet and then quickly but carefully (using gloves, remember the skillet is hot!) invert the skillet and the plate together so the pastry ends up on the platter, with the apples on top.  If any stick to the pan you can remove them and carefully place them back in the tart. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or ice cream or crème fraiche.   

Ice_cider I also talked about Pinnacle Ice Cider today.  This is a line of award-winning apple cider products from Domaine Pinnacle in Quebec, but the products are available across Canada and in the United States.  Rick Cluff and I sampled the ice cider and the sparkling ice cider.  What a great way to start the day on The Early Edition!

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