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Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart

  • December 2, 2013

 Ina Garten, aka “The Barefoot Contessa” consistently writes cookbooks that contain delicious recipes that are also fail proof and easy to prepare. This French apple tart is no exception. It’s always a crowd pleaser with its buttery, flaky crust and thinly sliced apples smeared with a glaze of jelly. The recipe calls for apricot jelly, but my new favorite to brush on fruit tarts is quince jelly, since its pale color doesn’t obscure the fruit that’s below. Besides, I love the tart/sweet flavor of quince jelly.

After mixing the pastry, roll it out and cut it to the size of your cookie sheet.
Place the pastry into a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (or a Silpat), carefully arrange the apple slices and dot with butter (stop counting calories and just enjoy this one, alright?)
When it comes out of the oven, brush some warmed quince jelly on top (or some other light colored jelly – I like orange marmalade here too.) Cut into squares and serve. A scoop of ice cream on top would not be unwelcome. Warning – This tart is highly addictive. Ciao Chow Linda shall not be held responsible if you eat the whole thing.
If you haven’t got company coming, and you’re not so good at portion control, (I wonder who that could be?) freeze most of the dough and make a couple of single serving size tarts instead, assuming you’ve got little tart pans. But even if you haven’t, you can even make them freeform. Follow the same directions, and use the same temperature. This way you might still be able to squeeze into your jeans.


Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart
printable recipe here

For the pastry:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water
For the apples:
4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water
the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food
processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to
combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in
small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water
down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come
together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap
in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a
small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan
and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.
Peel the apples and
cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a
sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch
thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the
middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of
the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not
to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.)
Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.
for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of
the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the
pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the
air out. Don’t worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart
will be fine! When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly together
with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with
the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t
stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Quince Paste and Jelly

  • November 8, 2013

 It looks something like a pear, but if you bite into it, you’ll be unpleasantly surprised by a sour, hard and astringent fruit. I’m talking about quince, a fruit that is almost always cooked before eating. They’re commonly found in Italy at this time of year. It’s not impossible to find them in the U.S., but when you do, you’re likely to pay a lot for just one single piece, making the cost of jelly or quince paste quite high. 

In Italy, they’re also used to scent lingerie and linen drawers, because of the strong fragrance and durability of the fruit. On a visit to my cousin Lucia’s house in the region of Emilia Romagna, she had prepared the fruit into a paste, which can be spread on bread, or enjoyed as an accompaniment to cheeses.
Here in the states, I was lucky enough recently to receive a basketful of quinces from my friend Polly, who in the past, has provided me with a jar of her delicious quince jelly. This year though, thanks to her generosity, I had enough of a stash to make it myself. It is a delicious blend of sweet and sour flavors and starts out as a pale yellow liquid, turning to a beautiful orange hue as the sugar melts and the mixture cooks and thickens.
I love it on toast with butter, but it also makes the perfect glaze on a fruit tart. Just soften it a bit in the microwave and slather over some sliced apples or pears.

In Italy, quince is frequently an ingredient in mostarda, a savory and spicy candied fruit condiment served with bollito misto (boiled meats). You can also add slices of quince to a stew, but that’s a recipe for another post in the future.

Quince Paste 
Cotognata (recipe from Lucia Bersani)
printable recipe here

white wine

Slice the quinces into a bowl filled with water and the juice of one lemon to keep the quinces from discoloring while you’re slicing.  After they’re all cut, put the quinces in a pan, with enough white wine to cover. Boil until tender, drain, then use a blender or stick blender to puree. Weigh the mixture and put the equal amount of sugar into a pan with the puree mixture. Bring it to a boil for a little longer, then spread it in a shallow pan. When the mixture is cold, cut into desired shapes.

Quince Jelly
printable recipe here
lemons (1 lemon for each quart of quince juice)

Wash the quinces, then cut the fruit into pieces, leaving the peel on, checking for worms or other bugs. You don’t have to core the fruit, but if you want to, go ahead. Put the chunks of fruit into a saucepan and cover with water. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a simmer, cooking until the fruit is soft. This could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour, depending on the ripeness and size of the fruit.

Use a fine colander and strain the fruit and juice through it into a large bowl. Press down gently to extract as much juice as you can.
Strain the juice a second time, using cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter. This will help ensure a clear jelly.
Cover and refrigerate overnight and more of the particles may shift to the bottom.
Measure out the juice the next day and pour it into a large, clean pot.
For each quart of liquid, add the juice of one lemon and about 4 1/2 cups of sugar.
Place the pot on medium high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Keep cooking it and skimming any foam that rises to the surface. The color will change from yellow to a beautiful shade of pale orange. If you have a thermometer, it should reach between 215- 220 degrees.
Pour the liquid into hot sterile jars. Careful, it’s really hot. Process in a hot water bath for about 10 minutes.