With these difficult economic times, multiple overseas conflicts, and earthly disasters, do you ever feel like you just need a safe harbor?Â You should try good comfort food in the company of friends.Â I recently had the great fortune of hosting a â€œCook the Partâ€ party at my house with some really fun couples.Â The group worked in mixed teams and enjoyed a 4-course dinner outside in a lovely Rancho Santa Fe evening.Â We chose the Comfort Food menu which included a fresh green salad with white peaches and goat cheese (Yummy!).Â The salad was meant to include pears for winter comfort, but as white peaches are now in season, we modified the recipe to include peaches, candied almonds and goat cheese in place of the pears, Gorgonzola and toasted walnuts.Â Using fresh local produce is one of the key elements to Karin Easthamâ€™s book, â€œCook the Partâ€ (even if it means mixing up the recipe/menu).Â The salad was divine.Â I enjoyed watching Steve Hochberg braise the short ribs with quiet intensity.Â There was a bit of a competition between my husband, Paul Cayer, his team-mate Patti Wiggins, and one of the other teams including Sue Burgess and Mark Wiggins.Â Iâ€™m not sure who won but it seems we all did because the food turned out amazing!Â Dan Burgess was intimidated by having to make pie crust from scratch with his partner Nance Hochberg,Â but they created a wonderful apple tarte tatin.Â A fun time was had by all!Â I look forward to doing this again!
A big thank you to Jennifer and Paul for hosting another beta test for one of the eight themed menu chapters in Cook the Part.Â Below we share the recipe for the Apple Tarte Tatin:
APPLE TARTE TATIN
1Â¾Â cup flour
9Â tablespoons unsalted butter
1Â teaspoon salt
4 to 5Â tablespoons ice water
12 Â large Granny Smith apples (6 lbs.)
2Â cups sugar
9Â tablespoons butter
Zest and juice of one lemon
Â Preheat oven to 425?.
Â Prepare crust.
Â In food processor, mix flour, salt and butter until crumbs are formed.Â Add ice water and pulse until mixture holds together nicely.Â Wrap in wax paper and chill until needed.
Peel, quarter, slice each quarter into three slices.Â Add the lemon zest and juice to the apples.Â Add Â¾ cup of the sugar and stir.Â Let steep for 20 to 30 minutes then drain apples.
Make caramel and cook apples.
Using a 12 inch iron skillet, melt butter and add remaining 1Â¼ cups sugar.Â Stir until a brown bubbly caramel forms.
Add the apples to the caramel, arranging them in a nice pattern around the pan.Â Continue to add apples in subsequent layers, filling in the empty spaces until all apples have been added to pan.Â Cook about 15 minutes, covered, basting the apples with a bulb baster periodically.Â When the syrup is nicely thickened, remove pan from heat.
Prepare and Bake.
Roll the dough out in a 13â€ circle.Â Center the dough over the apples, forming an edge with the excess dough.Â Bake 20 minutes in a preheated oven until crust is nicely browned.Â Remove from oven and ensure that juices are not too thin.Â If necessary, cook down juices on stove until juices are thick.
Flip Tarte Tatin.
Turn the pan upside down onto a serving dish.Â You may need help with this as the pan is red hot and very heavy.
Â Cut Tarte Tatin into slices.
Â Serve with vanilla ice cream.