Sounds funny, right? "Winter fruit." It's a sorry state of affairs, especially in California where we can get so many splendid things almost all year round AND believe it or not, we DO have winter.
The Farmers Market web sites list what's in season and during winter the list looks like it's trying too hard. With unenticing things like Gogi and Ground Cherry (what the...?) it looks like a parent making excuses for their untalented child. When I clicked on the Fruit icon at LocalHarvest.com it showed an array of exciting things like apricots and melons, only to find out that they were hocking the seeds to grow them with for 'sweet goodness grown at home.' Jesus!
The one fruit that gets to shine during winter is the apple. I love apples. I'm so glad the growers of Delicious got it together and stopped growing that mush bomb. Red Delicious has returned to the apple of my childhood. Hard as a rock, crisp, juicy and sweet.
My daughter Lena has been home from college for an entire month and has turned me on to several food sites. Sites like Sassy Radish and Smitten Kitchen offer a kind of coffee klatch feel, only the women attending happen to be all over the world. We cooked many of the recipes, but the one we really wanted to tackle was Tarte Tatin.
I never have any luck with crust and I was counting on my daughter to have her own mojo to carry us through, but I think I might have passed on the curse. Either that or lack of experience gave a discouraging outcome on our first try. Don't get me wrong, it tasted good, although the crust was a bit undercooked.
The surprising thing about Tarte Tatin is how easy it is. Simply core and peel apples and slice them in quarters. After melting butter and sugar in a large pan that can go in the oven, remove it from the heat and arrange the apples tightly in a fan, filling it in the center as well. The second time, we used filo dough from the freezer and baked it longer than the recipe said. I can't tell you how exciting it was to behold a Tarte Tatin that looked and tasted like restaurant quality. You forget its an upside-down thing as well, so there's a moment of doubt before the reveal. Here is a link to the recipe, and go to the two web sites I've mentioned. They're awesome.
- By Laraine Newman