HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Savory Roasted Tomato Tarte Tatin


         I recently came across a very detailed recipe for a tomato Tarte Tatin in August’s Bon Appetit.  Now I used to make Tarte Tatins at every opportunity.  They were hard to beat: You put butter and sugar into a cast iron pan and it magically turned into caramel.  You added pears or apples skin side down, covered the thing with pastry and into the oven it went.  Once done, you cautiously fiipped the tart over and voila!  Your pretty pears or apples glistened on a bed of pastry.  Add a scoop of ice cream and you had a dessert that even I could make.  This was of course before Andrew took up baking. Now, if I made dessert, people would be convinced that I’d lost my mind.  But I couldn’t get the Tomato Tarte Tatin out of my mind. 

  
Les Souers
Tatin
      
The original Tarte Tatin was the invention of two French sisters. 
Carolina and Stephine Tatin were the owners of a hotel in the Loire Valley town of Lamotte-Beuvron.  L’Hotel Tatin’s kitchen was presided over by the elder sister Stephine.  In 1888, legend has it that the midday crowds drawn to the hotel in hunting season apparently addled Stephine, a particularly
Hotel Tatin, still in operation in
Lamotte-Beuvron, France 
fine cook.
  For some reason, she inverted her pie dish so that the apples were on top and the pastry underneath.  She needed to get dessert on the table so she served her creation not even giving it time to cool. (Now, by the way, every self-respecting Tarte Tatin is served warm from the oven.)  The dessert was a huge hit with the Tatin sisters’ customers.  Its fame reached Paris.  The owner of Maxim’s Restaurant dispatched a cook/spy, disguised as a gardener, to Lamotte-Beuvron to uncover the secret.  The spy was successful and brought the recipe back to Maxim’s where it has been on the menu ever since.  I wanted to put a Tarte Tatin on our menu for weekend houseguests and so I set out to create a savory version using the beautifully ripe tomatoes crowding our local farm stands.  Here’s what I discovered.
        
Version # 1 with
un-roasted tomatoes 
Plum tomatoes were the foundation of the sweet tomato Tarte Tatin and so I went with those.  For some reason, they are priced at about half that of the beefsteaks and Roma varieties.  Now this is really good news if you are making this dish out of season.  Plum tomatoes are much more reliably ‘ripe’ during the winter months.  So this dish can be made anytime.  I had reserved some Mozzarella Bufala to make the dish.  Buffalo Mozzarella has more tang to it than it’s cow’s milk counterpart adding to the savory quality I wanted in my Tarte.  
So I scooped out the center of the tomatoes--seeds, pulp and all—and stuffed them with the cheese.  I topped that with a layer of carefully caramelized onion.  I topped the whole dish with a sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry and into the oven it went.  After baking, I let it cool for five minutes before turning it out on a flat-surfaced plate. The flat surface is essential to the success of this tart or it will lose its shape.  

I served the tart with rashers of bacon and a green salad—think deconstructed BLT on a plate.  It was excellent.  But Andrew made a suggestion that made a genuine improvement on the original.
         The tomatoes in version one were beautiful to look at.  But they were so juicy, they overwhelmed the pastry.  Andrew’s idea was to slow roast halved plum tomatoes.  This had two results: The tomato flavor was even more concentrated and the tomatoes gave up enough juice that the puff pastry crust was still relatively crisp.  Once these beauties came out of the oven, I let them cool and slipped the skins off.  I brushed the skinless tomatoes with Balsamic Vinegar.  I didn’t scoop out the centers but laid the tomatoes cut side up in the tart pan.  Over that went the layer of caramelized onion which I covered with a layer of fresh basil leaves.  I’d used all my Mozzarella but cheese was essential to the dish and I went with 2 cups of coarsely grated Parmigiano Romano.  The puff pastry topped the dish and into the oven it went.  In 25 minutes, my Tomato Tart Tatin emerged from the oven, cooled for 5 minutes and was inverted on the flat surfaced plate. You can see the results at the top of this post.  I’d say this is a winner in every way.  Now there was nothing wrong with version # 1, which you can make just as I did.  But roasting the tomatoes was such a boon to the flavor, I’ll stick with version # 2.  And about the roasting time: Yes, it’s a 3 hour process but you can do it the night before simply and easily and the result will be well worth your time. Plus, if you make a big batch, you will have gorgeous roasted tomatoes to put into pasta sauce or serve as a side dish all by themselves.  Here is my recipe:

Recipe for Savory Roasted Tomato Tarte Tatin
Serves 6. Takes 3 ½ hours start to finish. Active time 45 minutes.
Special Equipment: A 20 centimeter tart dish or cast iron skillet with a depth of at least 1 ½ inches.

8 Plum tomatoes, halved.*
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced.
Basil leaves (about 12 large)
2 cups of coarsely grated Reggiano Parmigiano Cheese
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, defrosted.
Olive Oil
Butter
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 275 degrees.
Put the tomatoes, skin side down on a sheet pan. Brush the cut side of the tomatoes with olive oil, then generously salt and pepper them.
Put them in the oven for 3 hours, rotating the sheet pans occasionally so that they roast evenly.  Remove from the oven. Allow to cool until they can be handled.  


Peel the skins off the tomatoes. (This is not at all hard to do.) If doing this the night before making the Tarte, set the peeled tomatoes aside and refrigerate.
When you are ready to bake the tart, take the puff pastry out of the freezer and defrost for 20 minutes.
Brush the outside or the tomatoes with balsamic vinegar.  Also brush the bottom of the tart pan or cast iron skillet.  
Put the tomatoes peeled side down into the pan or skillet.
Pre heat oven to 425 degrees.
In a non-stick skillet, melt 1 tbsp. unsalted butter and 1 tbsp. Olive Oil.  Put the thinly sliced sweet onion in the pan and gently caramelize it until it is golden brown.  Remove from heat. Set aside.





Once the onions are slightly cooled, strew them over the tomatoes in the pan or skillet. 








Put a layer of basil leaves over the onions.









Grate 2 cups of Reggiano Parmigiano. Cover the basil with the grated cheese.








On a lightly floured surface, unroll the puff pastry sheet and use a rolling pin to extend the size of the sheet so that it will completely cover the tart pan or skillet.  Lift the crust onto the dish and trim it to fit exactly.  Put the pan or skillet on a sheet pan or baking sheet with sides. (Some liquid may seep out during the cooking process so do not use anything without sides.)



Put the tart in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes until pastry is puffed and golden.  Let cool for 5 minutes. Invert on flat surfaced plate. 








Cut into wedges and serve.   


* It seems a shame to only roast 8 tomatoes.  I bought 5 lbs of them, about 18 all told and have plenty on hand.

 
  

                  

6 comments:

  1. Ok, so I tried this several ways as I cannot do the pastry and I was not going to use GF pie crust as it is not very good. Used it with Cornmeal crust as a base - very heavy and did not do a thing for the flavor. Tried Pizza crust - just came out like a big tomato pizza - nope. Used day old Pizza dough that I made a fried dough with, and baked it like a Bruschetta. Bingo! Sometimes, you just have to make the recipe no matter what Monte! This one had me going from the moment I saw it!

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  2. Hi Ana! Just got a chance to reply to this. Did your machine auto-correct PF (Pepperidge Farm) to GF? If you don't like PF, there's one called Dufour here which is truly higher quality and also costs a little more. I am seriously considering baking the top as a seperate piece and then putting it over the baked base and flipping as per instructions. I am very proud of this one and plan on serving it again to Andrew's sister who just arrived here today from Dallas...where it was over 100 degrees 14 days in a row. She's awfully glad to be here! XOXO M.

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  3. I'll try this recipe! I want to eat this so bad

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  4. Update - now I have purchased a Pilsbury GF pie crust - gotta keep trying. I have not found the PFarm GF product, will keep looking. The holidays are coming soon and I've got to get some trial and errors in! Thanks again!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Ana, I have just updated this post to show you what the package of PF Puff Pastry Sheets look like. I hope this helps you find them. Yesterday, I was at a luncheon with Faith Middleton of NPR's Food Schmooze and we were discussing baking the puff pastry crust separately while the tomatoes etc cook in the oven in the tart pan. We would then put the baked disk on top of the tomatoes and flip it at that point. I have yet to try this but I think it's worth a go! All best, Monte

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