Just in time for morning coffee break, here’s my recipe for an incredibly easy to make classic French upside-down apple pie. Elegant enough for company but you family will pine for it too.
Quick ’n Easy Apple Tarte Tatin
(Serves 6 to 8)
4 large cooking apples (Mutsu, Fuji, Cortland, Granny Smith), peeled, cored and each apple cut into 6 wedges
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
⅓ cup water
½ cup butter, cut in cubes
1 frozen pie crust, thawed in refrigerator overnight
• Preheat oven to 350F and coat a deep-dish 9-inch pie plate with vegetable spray. Set aside.
• In a heavy bottom saucepan set over medium heat, add sugar and water and stir to combine.
• Bring mixture to a slow boil and cook until water evaporates and the sugar melts and becomes golden brown. Do not stir mixture once it starts to boil or it will crystallize.
• Very carefully, remove pan from heat and swirl in butter until it completely melts and forms a caramel. Pour caramel into prepared pie plate.
• Carefully fan apple wedges “rounded sides facing down” on top of caramel in pie plate.
• Place pie pastry on top of the apples and tuck in excess dough. Poke a few holes in the pastry to allow steam to escape.
• Bake on centre rack until golden, about 25 minutes, then let pie rest 5 minutes before inverting onto platter.
Whisper, whisper :
• Serve slices of tarte tatin warm with a dollop of commercially prepared Devonshire or double cream on top to send this dessert into overdrive.
Though only a public holiday in Canada’s province of Newfoundland and Labrador, St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated nationwide in Irish pubs and Irish homes to commemorate the life works of Ireland’s own St. Patrick, a missionary who, it is said, died in the 5th century on March 17th.
In large Canadian cities — Toronto and Montreal being the longest-running and most well known — large scale St. Patrick’s Day parades are held. In Manitoba, the Irish Association of Manitoba organizes a three-day festival of Irish culture in the week of St. Patrick’s Day.
Whether you celebrate St. Paddy’s day in a pub or at home, traditional dishes such as colcannon and Irish stew must form part of the menu. Heady stout, green-tinted ales and good, old Irish whiskey will, no doubt, flow freely. And many revelers will don green apparel and belt out much-loved Irish folk songs… When Irish Eyes are Smiling and The Black Velvet Band, and Danny Boy, to name but a few, to the wee hours of the morn.
But more on the man and the day come mid-month. For now, here’s my craicing colcannon recipe to help get your Irish on.
Happy Friday, my darlings.
The song Colcannon (also called The Skillet Pot ), is a traditional Irish song that begins…
Did you ever eat Colcannon, made from lovely pickled cream?
With the greens and scallions mingled like a picture in a dream.
Did you ever make a hole on top to hold the melting flake
Of the creamy, flavoured butter that your mother used to make?”
Yes you did, so you did, so did he and so did I.
And the more I think about it sure the nearer I’m to cry.
Oh, wasn’t it the happy days when troubles we had not,
And our mothers made Colcannon in the little skillet pot.”
Colcannon (serves 4)
2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup butter
3 packed-cups stemmed and finely chopped kale
4 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
½ to 1 cup warm milk or cream
• Place potatoes in a medium saucepan, add just enough cold water to cover, add salt, then set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Boil until potatoes are fork tender, but 15 minutes. Drain in a colander. Set aside.
• Return pan to heat and add butter. Once butter has melted and foaming has subsided, add kale and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
• Return reserved potatoes to pan, stir in green onion and, with a potato masher, mash potatoes along with enough milk or cream to achieve desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Traditionally, colcannon is made from leftover mashed potatoes and braised cabbage with a little hit of green onion added for flavour, texture and colour.
As varied as the regions of Ireland itself, colcannon is oftentimes eaten with boiled ham or thick-cut crispy bacon.
An old Irish Halloween “finders, keepers” tradition is to serve colcannon with a few coins wrapped in foil or a ring and a thimble hidden within the fluffy spuds.
Tomorrow I’m switching things up and using heart-healthy kale in place of — while I love it so! — drab green cabbage.
Stay tuned, my darlings.
It’s Humpnight. I’m not going to ask you to roast off a whole chicken and boil down the bones to make stock for gravy.
Just swing by your local supermarket on your way home and fetch a rotisserie chicken, a can of chicken gravy, some mushrooms and a clam shell of organic baby spinach.
I’ll assume you’ve already got dried thyme leaves in your pantry. And if you don’t have frozen puff pastry on hand, you should.
I always say, if you’ve got puff pastry in the freezer you’ve got an appetizer, entree or dessert waiting to happen.
Enjoy, my darlings.
Chicken, Mushroom & Spinach Pie
2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts (each about 6 ounces) cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup sauteed sliced cremini mushrooms
1 cup sauteed baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 cups chicken gravy
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed in fridge overnight
• Gently toss together chicken, mushrooms, spinach, thyme and gravy until well combined, then spoon into a greased 9-inch-square baking dish, cover with pastry and make a few slashes in top to allow for steam to escape.
• Bake on centre rack of preheated 375F oven until heated through and pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.
• Transfer pie to wire rack and let cool 5 minutes before serving.