Published in New Hampshire Seasons Fall 2000
Ratatouille - Provençale vegetable stewEven though we've had a disastrous summer for most of our gardens, those tomatoes and other vegetables are there in abundance, even if only at the farmers market. Make the most of too many vegetables that your neighbors have finally refused and make a ratatouille.
This recipe is best made in the fall when the vegetables needed for it are cheap and plentiful. It can be made with any proportion of vegetables to your choice or what is available. Freeze it for use in the winter when we want a breath of summer to help us last through another New Hampshire winter.
Ratatouille - Provençale vegetable stew
On to Dessert
Tarte Tatin - French Apple TartI know that many people are scared of making pie crust and so just give in and buy the ready made. Obviously at College I was taught how to make the traditional French 'pâté sucre' (rich sweet pastry). In other words, how to make pastry while getting your fingers as messy as possible. Pastry making is one of those skills that, once mastered, you have the confidence to make a variety of different pastries without fear. I also think that it is one of those skills that is so surrounded by nonsensical mystique that people are scared in advance.
One benefit of teaching Adult classes in International Cooking made easy is seeing 20 people cook the same recipe. Not only do we get to taste all possible variations, but we all learn from each other. As a chef and a teacher it enables me to (hopefully) write a recipe with sufficient explanation that you will be successful at home without me by your side. I like to remind people that the recipes are not complicated or time consuming. The length of the method is purely to prevent readers from wasting their time and money at home by recipes that don't work.
This method of pastry making is wonderfully simple and produces a delightful apple tart. For those of you that haven't been to France, the pastry shops - Patisseries - have shop windows with the most amazing confections displayed. Most French women will buy these special pastries for their families but this recipe is very straightforward. The original recipe for this tart was cooked over a direct heat in a cast iron pan so that the apples and sugar would caramelize and produce slightly singed edges to the apples. However, the majority of people don't have cast iron bakeware and the original stove would have been a solid top cast iron stove similar to the British AGA stove now displayed in gourmet magazines.
So don't despair, this recipe works and it doesn't matter if you don't arrange the apples like Martha Stewart. Arranging upside down is confusing and you'll do better next time. And I promise there will be a next time once your family tastes this recipe. On a down to earth note, less pastry to deal with and less apples to peel, gets this tart in the oven quicker with less calories - so less guilt factor. I hope to be demonstrating this on WMUR ABC's Channel 9's Cooks Corner on Friday 27 October at 4pm. Tune in to see it made.
Tarte Tatin - French Apple Tart
Oonagh Williams has a Culinary Arts Degree, is a qualified teacher, a frequent guest on WMUR ABC channel 9's Cooks Corner, teaches a variety of International Cooking Classes and offers a catering and Personal Chef service. Contact Oonagh on 424-6412 or visit her web site at www.Geocities.com/CookingwithOonagh.