Wednesday, October 8, 2008

55. Tomato Tatins (p. 66)

According to The Book, this recipe* is a savory take on the classic upside-down apple pie known as Tarte Tatin. Legend has it that the dessert, also known as tarte renversee, was invented in the 1850s at l'Hotel Tatin. Apparently, in a moment of harried distraction, Caroline Tatin, who ran the hotel with her sister Stephanie, absent-mindedly tossed a bunch of carmelized apple slices into a pie dish without first rolling out a pie crust. Not wanting to start over, Caroline just put a crust over the top of the dish and baked it anyway. When it was done, she flipped the whole thing over onto a serving dish, served it to her eager and appreciative patrons, and the rest is culinary history ... more or less. In reality, French farmwives had been making tarte renversee long before Caroline was born, and some suggest that Caroline never even set foot in the kitchen at l'Hotel. But, hey, everyone loves a good story, right?

Just about the only thing that this Tatin has in common with its namesake is the upside-down presentation. The "crusts" on these individual tarts are rounds of country-style white bread that have been cut out with a cookie cutter, brushed with oil, toasted in the oven, and then rubbed with a clove of garlic. The "filling" is slices of ripe red tomatos that have been lightly salted and roasted to soften them and bring out their natural sweetness.

The tatins are assembled by placing a tomato slice in each of four ramekins, topping it with a dallop of pesto, and repeating until all of the tomato slices are gone. Each tatin is topped with a toast round, and they are put in the oven for a short time to heat through and to let the flavors combine. Once they are done, they get the Tatin treatment by being flipped over onto a serving plate.

I really liked this dish, and I'd make it again as a first course for a dinner party when I want to impress my friends. This is one of those recipes that's really pretty easy, but it gives you a lot of bang for the buck with a stunning, restaurant-quality presentation, and a really nice flavor. The tomatoes, which were ripe and in season from the farmer's market, were delicious, and the pesto was a really nice flavor accompaniment. The golden toasted crust gave textural interest and structure to the dish. Overall, I'd say this one is a winner.

Date Cooked: September 21, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A

* The recipe on calls for red and yellow tomatoes. The Book's recipe doesn't specify colors. If I had thought of it, I would have used some colorful heirloom tomatoes in this dish. It would have made it just that much more impressive.

No comments: