Let’s take a minute and have a spot of learning shall we?
A quick search on the internet reveals multiple definitions of a ‘tarte tatin’; an upside down tart and a classic French pastry dish are just two but I think the Guardian got it pretty spot on in their 2011 article about how to make the perfect version of it when they simply said it was a ‘glorious, sticky treat’. Ahhhh, those words alone make me want to stop typing, head to the kitchen and start banging about with pastry and tins while some jazzyily-Parisian dinner party music accompanies me.
Traditionally sweet, this is one of those dishes that also suits a savoury filling just as well. I consider it something of a cheat dish and by that I mean it’s looks are slightly out of sync with it’s difficulty rating. Of course if you make your pastry from scratch, that rating shoots up from a PG to an 18 but if, like myself and many, many, MANY chefs out there, you are using shop bought, that’s absolutely fine.
Just to compensate for how simple it actually is, I will of course have to post something next about a croquembouche or a consommé or a towering soufflé which will make both you and I dear reader, weep at the level of skill required…but later. Let’s not weep now unless it’s at the sheer and unmitigated deliciousness of this tart.
Tarte tatins have graced our tables and our palates since the late 1800’s and although, as previously mentioned, they are usually sweet, the fact that they’re basically a pastry lid over a filling means that this filling could technically be anything.
Amazing. Boiled down over 200 years of French culinary history into two sentences. Mon dieu, the French mafia will be seizing their baguettes and waging war on my as I type.
Now when I say you could use anything as the filling, don’t go getting all pedantic on me. Flavour, consistency and texture of filling will all play their part. I’ve yet to hear of an ice-cream tarte tatin although the fact that we’ve managed to deep fry it means it can only be a matter of time before that happens.
This tarte tatin is something I’ve done before with cherry tomatoes, goats cheese and a not insignificant amount of balsamic vinegar – my darling E who comes to play in London regularly is something of a balsamic addict. She’s a balsaddict. Ha! That’s literally tickled me so much, I’m going to take a 5 minute time out to text her and tell her…make a cup of tea dear reader, and I’ll be back…
Ok, she laughed, I laughed now let’s get back on track here. This is a simple dinner. If you use low fat puff pastry, it’s a fairly healthy dinner. I appreciate the thought of low fat pastry probably disgusts some readers and I’d be the first to agree that the full fat stuff tastes better but unfortunately, I’m a wee thing, barely bigger than a post box really and therefore although my taste buds love butter, I can’t eat it all the time without starting to resemble a weeble who will not only wobble, but will fall down too. So stick with me people when I say sometimes a low fat option can work.
So this tarte was a bit of a ‘Ready Steady Cook’ dinner. There was pastry in the freezer. There were cherry tomatoes in the fridge. There was balsamic vinegar and sugar in the cupboard. However there was also beetroot and blue cheese. Frankly, blue cheese goes with everything and the addition of beetroot? Meh, why not?
Tomatoes and beetroot were lightly sautéed in a splash of olive oil, a generous glug of balsamic and a teaspoon of sugar scattered over the top. They weren’t in the pan long enough to completely break down – you want them to retain their shape and they’ll cook further in the oven.
Put the mixture into a round cake tin – word to the wise here, do not use a tin with a removable bottom as I once did when making banana tatins unless you want to see what your oven would look like drizzled with caramel strands – and tuck a circle of pastry slightly bigger than the tin over the top and round the edges. You want the filling to be entirely covered by this soft pastry blanket.
Pop it in the oven and approximately 15 minutes later, take it out, flip it over onto a plate taking care not to splash yourself with piping hot juices, lavish some blue cheese chunks over the top and serve with nothing fancier than a simple green salad and a glass of red wine.
It’s completely divine. The pastry gets nice and golden and crispy on the top and the juices and balsamic underneath impart real flavour to it. The blue cheese melts a bit over the sweet, vibrant, garnet coloured vegetables and ugh, it’s just too good.
Please, please, please try it and see how right I am. World geography, current popular music and finding my own way home are things I am often wrong about. This? Ohhhhhh I am so right about this.