Thursday, September 3, 2009

Tarts, apples and otherwise

Apple Tart on Puff Pastry. Lucy Mercer/A Cook and Her Books
 While watching "Top Chef: Master" this summer, I became intrigued by the judge and food writer/critic Gael Greene, and picked up a remainder copy (for $1!) of her memoir "Insatiable." This is one of those books most people either love or hate (could explain the price), and I'll say I either love or hate different parts of the book. It's a TMI memoir. After a few certain chapters, I wanted to take a shower in Lysol and pull out Billy Graham's biography. But I keep reading the book, just like watching Albee's George and Martha; I want to see what happens next. I know I'll eat (vicariously) well. The food, the food is wonderful, and that's why I made this tart, because somewhere in between husbands and boyfriends and lovers, Greene mentions a French thin crust apple tart.

The recipe is based on one from The Gourmet Cookbook and is also found on

Thin Apple Tarts

2 Golden Delicous apples, peeled, cored, and halved
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 frozen puff pastry sheet (from a 17 1/4-oz package), thawed

1. Using a mandolin, cut apple halves crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices and transfer to a bowl.

2. Bring water, sugar, lemon juice, and butter to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then pour over apples. Turn apples until slightly wilted, then drain in a colander set over a pot used to cook the syrup, reserving liquid.

3. Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll out pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface into a square and cut out 4 (6-inch) rounds, using a small plate as a guide. Transfer rounds to a lightly buttered, Silpat-lined baking sheet and top with overlapping apple slices. Bake in middle of oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

4. Boil reserved liquid in saucepan until reduced to about 1/3 cup, then brush on baked tarts. In my neck of the woods, this is considered a showstopper of a dessert. Leftovers make a pretty snazzy breakfast (and for those who judge me, it's got to be better for you than a Pop-Tart). I will definitely make these again.

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