I think it was a little gutsy making a “French Apple Tart” just three days after Alex returned from a month-long trip to France…. That would be Paris, France. I know. I know. I know. You’re probably thinking hubris. But really it was more like foolhardiness I think. The thing is, it’s Fall. Fall is all about Apples – so so many kinds of apples. I made a commitment, back in the summer, that I was going to get close with apples this Fall. And it is now Fall. Fall lasts only so long so I had to get going and people were coming for dinner so it was the perfect moment to start my relationship with the apples.
The people who were coming for dinner, in addition to Alex and Jared, happened to be Alan’s relatives – yes that’s right – the man who professes to have no relatives at all came up with yet MORE relatives (and nice ones at that). They hailed from Georgia – an exotic sounding place to me. I think ‘peaches’ when I hear Georgia. I think Valdosta when I heard Georgia – the place my parents lived right after they eloped when my Dad was in the Service. Alan’s relatives spoke of places I’ve never heard of. A murder even took place there (just my kind of excitement – I’m already hooked on the place and I haven’t even been!). I was very curious about them and their place in the world. So the husband/father in the family is Alan’s cousin – I guess – of sorts. His Grandmother and Alan’s Grandmother were sisters – seven sisters in all. His name is Dan Weinberg. That’s right. Mimi Weinberg’s brother. Mimi and her husband Dan (differentiated from her BROTHER Dan) have been on this website before. Remember them? We love Mimi and Dan. They’re from Nor Cal. When they were down this summer we made plum jam together (ringing a bell yet?) and Dan made his world famous blueberry tart – to die for. They are awesome relatives. And now we have more!
So, as I was saying, Mimi’s brother Dan Weinberg and his family were visiting in L.A. for a Bar Mitzvah and they wanted to come see Alan. Dinner…. Of course…. Dan Weinberg’s wife is Karen (she’s from Arkansas – also exotic! And get this, her father who is a famous jeweler in Arkansas owns a famous diamond and he actually loaned the diamond to Hillary Clinton to wear at an inaugural event! Is that awesome?). Dan and Karen’s delightful son Jeff also came to dinner. I have to say this, Jeff is recovering from ankle surgery poor guy and he was uncomplaining that we dragged him out of his nice hotel, with his scooter (better than crutches as he points out) to some random relative’s house in Venice to eat. And also, at dinner, their vibrant, electrifying daughter/sister Andrea. Andrea was in the E-discovery business (that’s something us lawyers have to deal with in court all the time) but she left that business to start her own “accessories” line. She makes bags as in purses – of all sizes and colors. You can buy ready-made, or you can customize a bag. Very cool. Lots of shapes, colors, fabrics, sizes, hidden pockets, converting to backpacks, good looking, packable, etc. Check out Andrea Weinberg’s website at theandibrand.com. I’m impressed with it and with her energy and style. Let me know what you think. She lives in New York City of course….
Onward, onward, enough digression…. I made dinner. It had to be simple because I had a big hearing downtown that didn’t start until 1:30 p.m. so I figured I wouldn’t get home until around 5:30 or so which meant that I would need a main-dish that required no attention or preparation. The guests were to arrive at 6:30 with a warning that I would still be cooking. Alan checked and I was told that there were no dietary restrictions – easy as pie. But then at 5:45 p.m. I went into a bit of a tailspin when Alan told me that the relatives told him that they were “relaxed kosher” ???!!! Huh??? I panicked but then realized it was only the mozzarella on the salad that would be an issue. As it was, it turned out fine. Apparently ‘relaxed kosher’ doesn’t preclude cheese on the salad when meat is being served for dinner. I don’t understand but I was greatly relieved! I made a very lovely and pretty filet mignon roast – tender as can be – (didn’t quite get finished on time); my salad of the month which is arugula, baby mozzarella circles, dried figs cut into quarters, chopped tomatoes with a red-wine vinagrette (inspiration courtesy of Jenette Schachtner – Santa Monica Chief Deputy City Attorney and chef extraordinaire – this salad is stellar); a delicious, delicious roasted root vegetable concoction from my best book – Plenty (Yotam Otolenghi) I’ll do a post about that in the few days and for dessert – no not peaches – we had the gluten-free chocolate cookies that I posted about last time and then the gutsy – what-was-I-thinking FRENCH APPLE TART! Wow! That was long-winded.
So thanks to the one and only Barefoot Contessa for this delicious recipe…..
French Apple Tart (from the Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp sugar
12 Tbsp (1 ½ sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
½ cup ice water
4 Granny Smith apples
½ cup sugar (all of it!)
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced or pinched into bits as you go along
½ cup apricot jelly or warm apricot jam (but not the chunky part)
2 Tbsp Calvados or water (I used water and some jam)
Directions: Pastry Put the flour, salt, sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds to combine ingredients. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water in and pulse until the dough starts to come together. DO NOT OVER PULSE. Dump the mixture onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat over to 400°
The Tart Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of a large sheet pan that has sides (a must or you will have an oven MESS of a magnitude that will bum you out).
Put the refrigerated dough, slightly softened from being in the room for a few minutes onto the parchment paper. Roll the dough out to around 10” x 14”. I cut my dough into a rectangle that was exactly 10” x 14” but you could do it free-form if you’d like. Put the dough on the parchment paper onto the pan and refrigerate while you cut the apples.
Cut the apples into quarters. Peel each quarter and core. Slice the apples into 1/4 ” thin pieces. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart. Continue making diagonal rows on each side of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices
Sprinkle the apple tart with the full ½ cup of sugar and then dot with the butter.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Turn the pan once during cooking. The apple juice/sugar will burn in the pan while cooking but the tart will be fine. This is why you need a pan with sides. When I took mine out of the over I thought it was done gone for sure but it wasn’t. It was totally delicious.
When you take the tart out of the oven, heat the apricot jelly/water or calvados concoction and brush the apples and pastry completely with the jelly mixture.
Loosen the tart from the pan with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve. We served with vanilla ice cream but it didn’t need it.