french apple tart by Nate Everett

DSC_0081.jpg

I love tarts. There's an elegance about open-faced desserts that makes them an attractive finish to your dinner party. This French apple tart is a cinch to make after you have mastered the technique of the dessert tart (or quiche crust-- ingredients are almost identical, just differently proportioned). It takes practice, like all baking does, but follow the detailed instructions below and you'll be a pro in no time. 

Bon appetit! 

recipe

for the tart shell:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup bleached cake flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 6 ounces chilled unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup ice water

for the apples & glaze:

  • 2 Granny Smith apples
  • 1 cup apricot jam
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  1. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and diced butter in a food processor. Pulse about 5-7 times.
  2. Add the vegetable shortening. Turn on the food processor and with the motor running, add the 1/2 cup of water right away, then turn it off. The butter and shortening should look like small peas by now. Pulse 2-3 more times if necessary to break up the butter into pea-sized clumps. Be sure you don't overmix!
  3. Transfer the pastry dough to a lightly floured work surface. Working quickly, form the dough into a rough ball and then slice it in half with a butter knife. Form each portion of dough into a flat disk. Wrap each disk tightly in plastic wrap and put them in a Ziplock bag. Refrigerate for a minimum of two hours to firm up the butter.
  4. To form the tart shell, quickly roll out one of the chilled disks on a lightly floured pastry marble or work surface. The dough should about about two inches larger than the diameter of your tart pan.
  5. Use a pastry cutter to loosen the dough from your work surface, then drape it over the tart pan. Gently press the dough onto the bottom and sides of the tart pan, ensuring it has a solid rim standing half an inch higher than the top of the pan.
  6. Trim any excess dough that may be hanging over the sides of the pan. Use it to patch up the tart shell, if needed. Then, using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell until it is speckled with small holes.
  7. Refrigerate the tart shell for 15 minutes and preheat the oven to 450°.
  8. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Rub the jam through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan and stir in the sugar. Simmer on low heat, stirring frequently, until the glaze registers about 225°. Use while warm or reheat if necessary.
  9. Core and thinly slice the apples. Pat dry with a clean dishcloth, if needed.
  10. Pull the tart shell out of the oven and brush the bottom of the shell with a thin layer of glaze. Arrange the apple slices in a decorative pattern, sprinkle on a tablespoon of sugar, and pop that tart in the oven.
  11. Bake at 450° for 30-40 minutes or until the crust has crisped and browned lightly. Remove from oven and brush the apples with the remaining glaze. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!

**from Julia Child's the Way to Cook**

DSC_0066.jpg

potato leek soup by Nate Everett

DSC_0057.jpg

Potato leek soup, or vichyssoise in French, is traditionally served cold, but serving it hot makes it an essential dish for your cold weather arsenal. As temperatures drop, our cravings rise for hearty food. Creamy, earthy potato leek soup is one of my favorite first courses to serve at a wintertime supper because it tastes amazing and it's ridiculously quick and easy to prepare. You can also enjoy a hot bowl of this soup as a standalone dish for a light dinner; just be sure to have toasted chive garlic bread on the side to fill up that tummy. 

DSC_0023-2.jpg

A note, leeks usually contain a bit of residual soil. Be sure to wash them thoroughly in a colander after you have chopped/prepared them to rinse out that grit. Also, when you're ready to puree the soup in Step 4, I recommend filling your blender to no more than the halfway mark; this is to avoid having piping hot soup splash over the sides when you turn on the machine. I've never done that :) 

DSC_0016-2.jpg

recipe

  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 3 leeks, trimmed, and sliced lengthwise & roughly chopped
  • 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 cup heavy cream*
  • 4 cups good vegetable stock or broth**
  1. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottom saucepan. Once it has melted, add the onions and sauté on medium-high heat until translucent, about five minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute. Do not allow the ingredients to brown.
  2. Add the potatoes, leeks, bay leaf, thyme, salt and pepper to the pot. Pour in the vegetable stock and stir the mixture several times to combine. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium or medium-low so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook for 30 minutes. 
  3. After the 30-minute mark, remove the soup from heat and puree until smooth using a blender or vegetable mill or other method of choice. Return the soup to the Dutch oven, stir in the cream, and season to taste. Garnish with chives and a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche and serve. 

If you make this recipe, hashtag a pic to #spiceandhutch and post to Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter. I'd love to see your culinary creations!

*You may substitute sour cream for heavy cream.

**You may also use chicken stock or chicken broth. If you're making vichyssoise in the winter, use stock to produce a heartier soup, and broth in a summer for a lighter soup. 

DSC_0038-4.jpg