a tatin, auditioned

Just a few days after returning from our honeymoon, Alex and I celebrated our two-year dating anniversary — which just seems now the most precious thing, celebrating ever teensy weensy moment that passes; oh, how married we’ve become — by going to DB Bistro for dinner. Though I never thought we could have a bad time anywhere, we really, really did not enjoy the meal; the waiter rushed us, I could have sworn one made a face when I opted for two appetizers and a side instead of an entrée, we were squeezed in like sardines next to possibly the most annoying female half of a couple, ever, and oh, a plate was whisked away from me before I was done. Meh! A few days later, I did something I had not done before or since, and wielded my mighty pen, drafting off a full-paged To Whom It May Concern, expressing as diplomatically as I could that I think we are the least fussy diners, ever, but were still sorely disappointed. Two days later, the manager called me, personally apologizing and inviting us back for a free champagne cocktail or some such; a few days after that, a signed letter from Mr. Boulud arrived backing up this offer. Very gracious, indeed, though I can’t say we’ve ever taken them up on this.

Onwards! I’d completely forgotten about this meal until browsing Eat and then Lobstersquad a couple days ago, both of whom had made tomato tarte tatins, something I’d ordered and absolutely loved at DB that night, and had sworn I’d try my hand at one day. Ignoring the fact that it is presently the opposite of tomato season and also that I’ve never made a classic tarte tatin before (though I will, very soon), I decided to follow my intuition (always a scary thing) and make what I approximated to be a similar version of it. Charmed by both the stellar quality of the canned, whole and utterly flawless San Marzano tomatoes we’ve had the luck to bring home lately, as well as the roasting-toasting step in the tomato soup I made a while back to bring out their flavor, I opted for the canned variety. Discarding their innards as gently as I could, I cooked them on the stove for a good 20 minutes in a big pat of butter with a pinch of sugar and a much larger one of salt, cooking off a lot of their liquid, then covered them with sliced coins of chèvre and a round of puffed pastry. Following Molly’s wonderful tatin instructions, I baked it for about 45 minutes until puffy and golden, inverting it a few minutes later on a plate.

i tried to make a tomato tarte tatin

The results were surprisingly lovely, as was the flavor. (By this point, I’d convinced myself the recipe was doomed, the tomatoes would burn and thread themselves to the cast iron, and remain eternally uncooked — does anyone else do this when they cook? Terrible, terrible.) Still, they had gathered none of the blistered and charred spots I’d hoped for, and I have no doubt I have no doubt this might work better with fresh tomatoes, like some goofy-looking heirlooms. But then I started thinking that if I am going to make a puffed pastry, chevre and heirloom tomato tart, I might as well do it right-side-up, in a method that never fails, and with that, I believe I accidentally talked myself out of trying this again. Still, we will enjoy the leftovers, and for me personally, the knowledge that I worked my way through a whim of a recipe beginning to end has brought me no uncertain satisfaction.

cross section

As have these two things:

  • The other night, I read Rose Levy Berenbaum applaud the arrival of her 2-quart Lodge cast iron pot and I had the most embarrassing revelation: I own one of those! I’d bought it a couple years ago and never used it (shame on me), forgotten about it and even had the nerve to put a 9″ cast iron pan on my “need to get” list. Sure, it’s a little deeper than a skillet and a whole inch narrower than I’d wanted, but it will more than do. In addition, it will make us the most lovely 2-person stews, roasts and soups, which is what I believe drew me to it in the first place.
  • Would you believe I have never used puffed pastry before, ever, before last night? Honestly, I was both intimidated by it as well as failing to see puffed pastry’s charm. Well, I have been converted and it is all due to DuFour, which (locally, to boot) makes a puffed pastry so wonderful, it smells like buttery-rich shortbread in your kitchen as soon as you open the package, and is so easy to use, I have only further proved how ridiculous I can be. But more on that tomorrow!

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23 comments on a tatin, auditioned

  1. I knew you’d come to love puff pastry, as long as it was DuFour! Your tatin looks lovely. (Remember, though, to reseason your cast-iron pan if you cooked tomatoes in it – their acidity eats up the seasoning.)

  2. This looks absolutely delicious, and I was all fired up to try your recipe until I read you might not make it again? What a shame! Especially if you’ve discovered the joys of puff pastry. I recently discovered it’s not that hard to make yourself, and was looking for recipes to use it with. A tatin-type savory or dessert dish is perfet, because there is no filling to impede the puff pastry swelling up beautifully, as there would be if the tart were right side up. So really, wouldn’t you make this again?

  3. I’ve made red onion tatin and the classic tarte tatin with apples, but I’ll surely be making a tomato one now, too. Not for a few months, as it’s -15Celsius here at the moment and I cannot source tasty tomatoes, but surely in the summer. It looks absolutely gorgeous!!

  4. Nancy

    I made the Sow’s Ear Apple Pancake for the Colts/Patriots game with my family on Sunday – a huge hit. Sorry I can’t say the same for our Patriots. Thanks for a recipe I know I’ll make over and over.

  5. Oh, I looked at that photo and my mouth started watering. I am now on day 4 of Travelling In A City I Don’t Know, and although the food has been positively scrumptious and full of variety (I’m in Toronto), I find myself in the same spot I always do after almost a week of delicious but prepared food: I just want to cook again. 1 more day and I’ll be home. A grocery shopping trip later and I’ll be happy

    Well regardless, this makes my mouth water. It looks so tangy and delicious, and I actually don’t even like tomatoes that much. But what a nice flavor: tomatoes, goat cheese, and the buttery mellow puff pastry. It’s almost like French Pizza. You may have encouraged me to try puff pastry again. The last time I tried using it (pillsbury variety) I was disappointed in its oily lack of flavor, but maybe I can find something local instead

  6. Gorgeous! This is so appetizing! That is defintely my kind of friday noght dinner. I wish I could find Dufour puff pastry here, no such luck so I always end up making my own.

  7. leigh

    I live in the back of beyond boonies of SW VA and thus cannot get most “exotic” ingredients unless ordered from the internet (and who wants to wait when it comes to a recipe that must be made now!) but I’ve had good luck with Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry. Someday I’ll make my own but meanwhile I use it for all kinds of things (including my famous amongst my friends chicken potpie which I make in a 100 year old cast iron dutch oven passed down through family generations). I’ve got a number of other inherited cast iron pans and you can often pick up others at flea markets and yard sales for next to nothing as people abandon them for pricey “good” or “pretty” cookware… As for the tomato tatin I can’t wait to try it as soon as tomato season begins and my garden comes in!

  8. Good for You! there is nothing wrong with letting management know when things aren’t up to par at a resturant. That is not the same as expecting a free meal when your half eaten steak is to rare. I bet that waiter won’t snatch another plate!
    The puffed pastry looks perfect!

  9. e

    thankyou for this! it’s summer here in australia and my dad’s heirloom/old style tomatoes are just kicking in. i usually make a recipe of martha stewart’s, a base of pate brisee with thick tomato slices arranged on top and baked, and that is fantastic, but i will definitely give this recipe a go when we have a glut of juicy tasty tomatoes. thanks!

  10. If you have pear.cut and put in a container.with sea salt.put in the sun.the container.for a few days.after make sirop
    Water with sugar and lemon.put the pear and cook.