Thursday, October 9, 2014

Tarte Tatin in Vanilla Bean Custard Sauce {French Caramel Apple Tart)

Tarte Tatin, the famed French caramel apple tart is a classic. No matter how perfect or imperfect it looks on the plate, a tarte tatin will taste heavenly. Pastry dough is placed over the top of caramelized apples and then baked in the oven. The tart is then inverted to reveal the buttery caramel soaked apples in all their glory. It is especially delicious served with scoops of ice cream or my vanilla bean custard sauce.

Tarte Tatin

10 green apples (peeled) 
1 9-inch pie crust dough (or store bought if you’re lazy like me) 
1 stick butter
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (optional)

Peel, cut (in half) and core apples. Set aside.

In a 9-inch saucepan (with metal handle), melt butter and stir in sugar, salt and vanilla bean paste. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon. The sugar will melt and start to form a caramel sauce. It’s OK if there is a layer of butter floating on top. Don’t worry – it's not a dig deal.

Once the caramel has turned a light brown color, lower the flame to a simmer and carefully place all the apples in the saucepan. Make sure to evenly coat the apples with the caramel. Let the apples simmer for 10 minutes or so – stir occasionally.

Fun part. Use two forks to stack the apples on their sides (as if they were piggy backing each other – see picture). Make sure to fill your entire pan. Place a few apples in the center to fill the hole.

Place the 9 inch pie crust over the top of the apples and tuck the edges in.

Place in a 400 degree oven on the top rack and bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Be sure to place a tray on the rack below to catch any juices that may boil over.

Take the tarte tatin out of the oven and wait for it to cool before flipping. Place a plate over the top of the saucepan and flip it quickly to avoid any sugary juices from dripping out. 

Drizzle with vanilla bean custard sauce.

While the tart is cooling, you can prepare the custard sauce.

Vanilla Bean Custard Sauce

2 cups whipping cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
4 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons sugar

Place whipping cream in a saucepan. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste.  Bring cream to simmer. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl to blend. Whisk in hot cream. Return mixture to saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until custard thickens. About 5 minutes.  Do not boil or scald the sauce. Cover and refrigerate custard sauce until cold, about 3 hours.
(This can be prepared 1 day ahead if desired. Keep refrigerated.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

16 Reasons Why I Love Fall

I absolutely love fall. I would have to say it's my favorite season. I just swoon over the bright colors and cool nights. I am thrilled by the thought of snuggling up in bed with a cup of coffee, the smell of spiced cider and weekends at the cabin...gawwwww I love fall. Here are all the reasons why it's a fantastic season!

Cooler Weather
By mid to late summer I am praying for cooler weather. Something super exciting happened last night... I got cold! What? Yes. I had to pull the blankets over my shoulders. This is something to celebrate over when you live in southern California. We'll soon see the leaves change and glorious gloomy days! Is anyone excited about rain or is it just me?

Any kind for of boots -- ankles boots, riding boots, rain boots! I can finally busts these out of the closets and not look semi-ridiculous wearing them. 

The Cabin
Whenever Dan and I have a free weekend we love to drive up to the mountains, make a fire, ride around on the quad and sleep in. It's the perfect place to relax, make Dutch Babies for breakfast and enjoy the autumn colors. I like to sit out on the porch and savor every sip of coffee -- clear my mind of the list of chores back home and just relax. 

Yay for comfy sweaters and warm soft fabrics. I have always been a fan of wearing what feels good. I dig the minimalist look vs. the chunky layering. Light layers work better in So-Cal than the heavier coats and jackets you’d wear elsewhere. We like to celebrate the seasons while still keeping our cool.

Cozy Mornings in Bed
This usually doesn't happen until mid November or so, but I love cold mornings. The little house we rent right now doesn't have any insulation, so we REALLY feel the temperature change! Some mornings I can see my own breath! Since then, Dan and I invested in a feather down blanket and a space heater to help deal with cold. One of my favorite things is a cold Saturday morning wrapped in our cozy marshmallow bed. If I'm lucky D will make some coffee or spice tea and we'll both just sit in the warm sheets until we have enough courage to climb out of bed. It's Heaven. 

I love spending time next to a warm fire. What’s more romantic than cuddling up to your love in front of a crackling fire or sipping cider with a glowing hearth at your back? And the smell….oh man I live for bundled-up walks around Balboa with the smell of smoky fireplaces spindling overhead.

Pumpkins Everywhere
Pumpkins are everywhere -- carving pumpkins, roasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin beignets at Disneyland and these amazing Pumpkin Fritters with salted caramel sauce. Our nation goes crazy for pumpkins, which is odd because pumpkins are virtually forgotten the rest of the year. I'm glad we have made it a tradition to celebrate this autumn staple.

Stews & Soups
Awww yes a savory tomato soup or rustic white bean, a spicy beef chili, creamy butternut squash or pumpkin...I love them all. It's a great way to appreciate the tastes and smells of autumn while warming your bones. One of my friends makes it a habit to feed her little ones a warm bowl of chili before they go trick-or-treating each year...what a fun tradition. 

Caramel Apples & Cider
When we were kids, my parents would take us to Riley's Farm every fall to pick apples and press them for cider. I have the best memories of throwing apples into the grinder while my brother worked the wheel. We would head to the barn for apples dipped in a huge cauldron of caramel and cart home jugs of fresh cider and apples to make a mile high apple pie. I always make sure we have cider and caramel apples every fall.

Snuggly Book Weather
Because it's a lovely feeling to be wrapped in a toasty blanket fireside with a good book. 

Football Season
On most fall mornings I am woken up by the sound of our high school's band practicing for the big games. Dan and I like to cheer on our alma mater during football season. Bring yo jackets, scarves and something warm to drink. It's a fun way of diving into fall festivities while reminiscing about our early years. Go Sailors Go!

Believe it or not, it's a rare phenomenon around here. I think the grass is always greener on the other side, right? Fall and winter bring hope of rain for us...and by rain I mean a drizzly morning. Yeah, our weather is fantastic but it's so exciting to get some rain around here!

Golden Hour
Every season has a golden hour but I think it's best in the fall when the evening sun illuminates the orange and red leaves. I love that hour when the sun sits low in the sky and casts a magical glow over everything. It's almost as if God is saying "Hey's a hug just for you." -- one of my joie de vivre.

Hocus Pocus
I am a wimp when it comes to scary movies. I just can't. But what I can do is Hocus Pocus. I used to watch it with my best friend and we'd pretend to cast spells and ride around on vacuums (ß must see movie). I'll watch the lighthearted Halloween movies like Nightmare Before Christmas and the Great Pumpkin etc. I like to get into the Halloween spirit sans the horrendous nightmares.

Because a toasty home that smells like pumpkin pie is a fabulous thing to come home to. Dan works late...full-time plus extra hours building our two houses after  he leaves the office. Some nights I'll get home before him -- when I do, it's nice to make something special. Freshly baked pies or other treats are fun to indulge in after a long day at work + they'll warm up the house.

Trick or Treating
I just love seeing all the cute kids run door to door. We live in a granny house so Dan and I put extra effort into lining our walkway with jack-o-lanterns and an open gate. Despite our efforts we only get a few brave souls that venture back (or repeat customers). We'll let the kids take handfuls of candy and give the rest of the bowl to a lucky kid around 9:00 or so. I love that one night out of the year we can trust each other -- knock on a stranger’s door and receive a treat. It's a strange tradition for such a guarded generation, but I love it. 

Pictures:Weather1,2Boots1Cabin1,2; layers 1,2,3Cozy 1; Fire 12; Pumpkins 12Soup1Apples 1,2Book 1Football 1Rain 1Golden 1,2Hocus Pocus 12Pumpkin Pie 1,2; Trick or Treat 1