Escabeche
Escabeche with Cauliflower and Hearty Bread

In Spanish, Escabeche refers to an acid (and oil) marinade. Protein, either in fish, meat or eggs, can be "cooked" by prolonged contact with acids such as vinegar, lime or lemon juice. The technique involved in preparing this dish has a remarkable history that dates back to the oldest cookbook ever found—a set of clay tablets from Babylon dating to 1700 BC. The recent book by Stanford Linguist, Dan Jurafsky, The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu, lays out this history in lovely detail.

Originally a method applied to beef or lamb, the original form of the dish grew to become the signature dish of the Persian Empire of Koshrau Anushirvan, who ruled the Sasanian empire from 531 to 579 AD. Known as sikbäj. Jurafsky notes, "Sikbäj must have been amazingly delicious because it was the favorite of kings and concubines for at least 300 years…" Eventually it became a method for preparing fish, and the 13th century Egyptian cookbook "The Treasury of Useful Advice for the Composition of a Varied Table" contains a recipe for fish dredged in flour, fried and then infused with marinade of of vinegar, honey and spices.

Given sikbäj's resistance to spoilage (among other things, vinegar kills many microbes), it became a favorite of sailors who set out on long voyages. Acidic marinades also denature proteins, changing them to look like and have the texture of having been cooked. This effect is more pronounced with fish and eggs, but somewhat less so with meat. When applied to meat, it does soften the proteins somewhat allowing for a greater penetration of flavorings.ates back to the oldest cookbook ever found

>A curious thing happened, however, when the recipe landed on the shores of Christian communities in what is now Italy and France. Unlike Muslim areas such as Spain and the Middle East; fish, not meat, became the basis for the dish. Jurafsky suggests that in Medieval Christian Europe perhaps as many as one third of all days were fasting (actually abstinence) days that proscribed the consumption of meat, but not fish.

The history of the ancient technique extends all the way to modern day English "fish and chips." The process of battering, frying and preserving fish is presented in a 1796 British cookbook under the heading of "The Jew's Ways of Preserving Salmon and Other Fish." The description ends with "they will keep good a twelvemonth, and are to be eat cold with oil and vinegar: they will go to the East Indies."

>At least until 1846 when the first Jewish cookbook was published in English, a distinction was made between English fried fish that was served warm and Jewish fried fish that was eaten cold. Around that same time in England, deep fried potatoes were paired with battered and fried fish, and the English fish and chips was born. The first literary mention of "chips" is to be found in Dickens' Tale of Two Cities, published in 1859. While "fish and chips" is considered to be a solidly English custom, records indicate that the first fish and chips shop was opened by the Ashkenazi Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, in the early 1860's. While sikbäj was most closely associated with the cuisine of kings, fish and chips first gained popularity in the English working class. In the 19th century, seasoning Jewish fried fish with vinegar was prevalent; and today malt vinegar is considered by many Brits an absolute must. The concept behind the dish also traveled eastward. When Jesuit priests visited Japan in the mid to late 1500's, records indicate that they introduced the technique that evolved into the modern day tempura.

Jurofsky ends his chapter on this culinary cultural history with the following observation:

This family of dishes that are claimed by many nations as cultural treasures (ceviche in Peru, Chile and Ecuador, fish and chips in Britain, tempura in Japan, escabeche in Spain, aspic in France) were prefigured by the ancient Ishtar worshippers of Babylon, invented by the Zoroastrian Persians, perfected by the Muslim Arabs, adapted by the Christians, fused with Moche dishes by the Peruvians and brought to Asia by the Portuguese and to England by the Jews.

Escabeche is now found throughout the Spanish-speaking world in one form or another. Many different kinds of fish can be used in escobeche, depending on what is available locally. So in Cuba, the firm white flesh of sawfish (sierra) is popular while in Spain, oily fish like sardines (sardinas) or mackerel (caballa) are more common. Some versions don't use a marinade per se but instead use a cooked acidic sauce (such as a sofrito) poured over the cooked fish. As the vinegar or citrus juice cuts through the oiliness of some fish, escabeche can even be enjoyed by people who generally don't care for such fish. Although the fish is fried or grilled, escabeche is normally served at room temperature or chilled. While most contemporary versions of escabeche are savory and acidic, in the Philippines, the standard recipe calls for the addition of sugar, creating a dish also known as "Sweet and Sour Fish." While this might be a recent innovation, it should be recalled that the 13th century Egyptian recipe mentioned above was also sweetened with honey. The Mexican or Peruvian ceviche is rooted in the same history, but forgoes any frying or grilling allowing the acidic marinade to "cook" the seafood.

It should be noted that many recipes for escabeche reverse the order of cooking and marinating so that the fish is first marinated and then cooked. In deference to the illustrious history of this dish, our recipe calls for breading and frying the fish first and then marinating it for many hours or even days. No two escabeche recipes are the same, so feel free to experiment to your hearts content!

Ingredients:

  1. Slice the peppers, removing the seeds and inner membranes.
  2. Slice the shallots and garlic thinly.
  3. Juice enough limes to make 1/2 cup.
  4. Mix flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
  5. Dredge fish fillets in flour.
  6. Fry fish (a batch at a time) in the light olive oil for about 3 to 5 minutes on medium high until lightly browned. (Cooking time depends on thickness of and type of fish, but don't overcook!)
  7. Transfer fried fish to glass storage bowl that can be tightly covered.
  8. In the remaining oil in the frying pan, saute shallots, Jalapeños, peppers and garlic for 2 minutes on medium heat.
  9. Remove pan from heat.
  10. Mix in the remaining ingredients (virgin olive oil, vinegar, lime juice, capers, some more salt and pepper) in the pan with the cooked peppers, onion and garlic.
  11. Cover the cooked fish with the sauce from the pan (moving the fillets around or layering them with the marinade to get full coverage).
  12. Cover and refrigerate the escabeche anywhere from several hours to several days (the more the merrier!).
  13. Serve cold, garnish with fresh cilantro and a hearty bread (good for sopping up extra sauce!).

Buen provecho!

Recipe by T. Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by Shari Johnston-O'Neill

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Pomegranate Soup

Iranian Pomegranate Soup, in Farsi (Ash Anar), is a very hearty soup suitable for a cold winter's evening meal. It has a delightful mixture of tastes that remain very distinct when eaten. Different parts of your mouth might experience very different tastes; sweet, sour and savory. This makes for an unusual, but very pleasant experience. Traditionally lamb is used for the meatballs, but beef can be substituted. Vegetarians can substitute red beets for the meat.

In most of the world, pomegranates are eaten as fruits or juiced. Pomegranates originally came from what is now Armenia and Iran. They were an extremely popular trade item on the Silk Road and were brought to the Americas with the first Europeans. In the Middle-East, pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses are used in soups and rice dishes. One example of this use is Khoresht Fesenjan stew which is an essential part of most Iranian weddings. The stew consists mainly of ground walnuts, pomegranate molasses (or syrup), saffron, and cinnamon. Fesenjan has a rather ancient heritage. Ash Anar, the recipe for this month, is a bit more savory and contains spiced meatballs and soup greens. Pomegranate molasses can be purchased at the Balboa International Market or any other Middle-Eastern grocery. One can also purchase dried mint there.

Soups (ash) are very popular in Iran, so much so that cooks are known as ashpaz (lit. "maker of soups"). The recipe also calls for pomegranate seeds for a garnish. The trick to removing the seeds from the pomegranate fruit is to score the outer skin several times and then break open the pomegranate in a large bowl of water and nudge the seeds out with your fingers. The seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl and the inedible white fiber will float to the top. Another method is to cut the pomegranate in half (perpendicular to the stem), place the half cut side down on the palm of your hand, whack the top with a heavy spoon, and nearly all the seeds will be dislodged into your hand. Please note that this recipe calls for browned onions (really caramelized), part of which go into the soup and part which goes into the meatballs. We use brown lentils (because we had them), but other kinds of lentils can be used if you adjust the cooking times so that the total simmering matches what is required for the lentil being used (as this varies considerably). Basmati rice is used, but other kinds can be substituted.

Ingredients:

Soup Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium sized onions, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 1 cup of chopped cilantro
  • 1 cup of chopped parsley
  • 1 cup of chopped spinach
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon (or 1/2 teaspoon of powder)
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 3/4 cup of brown lentils
  • 3/4 cup of Basmati rice
  • 1/2 cup of pomegranate molasses
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of black pepper

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground meat (beef or lamb)
  • 2 teaspoons of tarragon
  • 2 teaspoons of dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 2 whole eggs beaten
  • 1 tablespoon of finely chopped parsley

Mint Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cupped dried crushed mint

Preparation:

  1. In a large pot (see picture) on medium heat, brown onions in the olive oil stirring constantly. Please note that this might take at least 10 minutes; the goal is not to burn the onions and to let them caramelize a bit.
  2. When the onions are close to brown, remove 3 tablespoons of the onions and put them in the bowl you will use to make the meatballs.
  3. Add garlic to pot and cook an additional minute or until garlic is very slightly brown, stirring constantly (garlic burns quickly).
  4. Clean and rinse lentils.
  5. Add lentils and cinnamon, turmeric, salt and pepper.
  6. Turn up heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Turn down heat and simmer soup for 30 minutes.
  8. Mix all the meatball ingredients and shape into walnut sized balls.
  9. After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, gently stir in the pomegranate molasses, rice, meatballs, cilantro, parsley and spinach.
  10. Turn up heat until the soup boils and then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes more.
  11. Prepare mint sauce by mixing the dried mint and oil and heating in a small pot.
  12. When soup is done, serve in individual bowls, drizzle a tablespoon of the mint sauce on top, and festoon with 1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds.
  13. Serve with pita or other middle-eastern flat bread.

بفرماييد (befarma'id)!

Recipe by Thomas Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by Shari Johnston-O'Neill

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Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Köttbullar are a perfect dish to enjoy during the cold and rain-drenched days of normally sunny San Diego. The meatballs should be light and slightly springy in texture.

The tradition of eating meatballs in Sweden can be traced to the 1700's. Recipes for "Köttbullar" can be found in cook books from 1800's, and each family develops their own variations on the dish.
The Swedes are worldwide known for their meatballs but can't take credit for the invention. It is believed that King Karl XII, who reigned during the late 1700's‚ brought the dish back from one of his journeys in Turkey. The Turkish meatballs can be found in many different variations, but it may be that the original meatballs came from Persia.

Almost everyone that has visited IKEA has at least once tried the meatballs with potato‚ brown sauce and lingonberry jam, judging from the fact that they are the number one food that is bought at IKEA. Now they even sell vegan meatballs. However, if you make them yourself, you will find that they will taste even better!

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices fresh white bread
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped onion
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Several parsley sprigs chopped (for garnish)

Preparation:

  1. Sauté onions in butter until they turn translucent.
  2. Break up the bread into small piece and add to mixing bowl with milk and eggs.
  3. Add ground pork, ground beef, onions, pepper, allspice, nutmeg and salt to the mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (if using a Kitchen-Aid type mixer it will be a lot easier).
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  5. Using a kitchen scale, make meatballs by rolling in your palms one ounce of the mixture, arranging the meatballs on a cooking sheet
  6. Cook for 25 minutes
  7. Turn oven down to 200 degrees.
  8. Heat olive oil in large skillet to medium high.
  9. Working in batches, brown the meatballs slightly.
  10. Return the meatballs to the oven to keep them warm.
  11. Turn skillet down to medium.
  12. Add flour to pan and mixing it well with the leftover pan drippings.
  13. brown the roux (flour and drippings)until it turns a light brown.
  14. A little at a time, whisk in the beef broth breaking up any clumps.
  15. While whisking, gently bring to a boil.
  16. Whisk in the heavy cream.
  17. Stirring frequently, cook the gravy for about 5 more minutes.
  18. Put the meatballs in a serving bowl and cover with gravy.
  19. Serve with a small dish of Lingonberry jam. (Available at IKEA!)

Additional notes: These are great for parties, as the meatballs are easy to pick up with toothpicks. Swedish meatballs are often served with boiled or mashed potatoes. Our favorite way to serve them, however, is over German egg noodles with a green vegetable or salad.

Intro by Josefin Hultén
Recipe by T. Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by Shari Johnston-O'Neill

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Miso

Japanese Misoshiru is a savory but delicate soup that is an essential part of Japanese dining.

According to The Book of Tofu & Miso, 75% of Japanese eat miso soup every single day. Miso<<shiru (味噌汁) can be purchased pre-mixed in a packet or you can make it from scratch (We will show you how!). In Japan you can purchase freeze-dried miso soup that re-hydrates when boiling water is added; the resulting taste and texture is remarkably good. Although it is simple to make, the techniques for creating some of the basic ingredients require a great deal of technique, effort and time.

The soup base, known as dashi (出汁), is flavored with miso paste, bonito (skip jack tuna) flakes and konbu (昆布) seaweed. Not only is it a key ingredient in miso soup but it is found in an enormous number of other Japanese soups and foods. The base used for miso soup is called "konbu katsuo dashi" after its two main ingredients, konbu and katsuobushi which I will discuss below. Growing up in America, people learn there are four basic tastes; sweet, sour, bitter and salty. However, in 1908 Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda suggested there was a fifth taste which he called umami (meaning "pleasant savory taste"). Further scientific research backed this claim with the discovery of taste receptors specific to glutamate. Ikeda originally studied the konbu seaweed, but discovered that glutamate was found in a wide variety of foods including tomatoes, wheat, shell fish. soy, meats, and more. Ikeda also extracted glutamates from konbu and called his "flavor enhancer" "Aji no Moto" which we know as monosodium glutamate or MSG. Many Chinese dishes also use MSG, and while many non-Asian people claim to have bad reactions to it (headaches, flushing, weakness, etc.) and while the Mayo Clinic website claims "Researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms." Much like gluten, many food packages and restaurant menus proudly proclaim "No MSG". We will leave it up to the readers whether these adverse claims are warranted or simply marketing ploys directed towards the overly cautious.

Most people who make their own miso soup use dashi powder which is a ground mixture of bonito, some seaweed and often aji no moto (MSG). The addition of MSG to dashi power simply adds more umami flavor to the dashi, and is not used when making dashi from scratch. Adding extra MSG to dashi might be a case of gilding the lily.

Miso is fermented soybean paste, however it typically has other ingredients, most notably rice and barley. "White miso" (shiro miso, 白味噌) is lightest in color and mildest in taste, having more rice and a shorter fermentation than "red" (Aka, 赤味噌) miso. Due to its pleasing color and delicate taste, shiro miso is preferred for miso soup, but some recipes (particularly English-language recipes) call for the stronger tasting variety. Miso has a great variety of uses, but by far its most popular use is for miso soup.

While making miso requires little preparation on the part of the cook, the creation of the bonito flakes flakes, or katsuobushi (鰹節), is a long, involved interesting process. Fortunately all this is done for you, you just need to open the bag and use the amount required! Traditionally a skip jack tuna is beheaded, gutted, filleted and trimmed of fat. The fish is boiled for more than an hour and then the bones are removed. The fish is then smoked very slowly for 5 to 6 hours, then the fish is left to cool and rest for a day. This process is repeated for the same fish more than a dozen times, the total time being up to a month. The filets are then sprayed with Aspergillus glaucus mold culture and left in a cave (most traditionally) or in a cold room. This process draws all the moisture out of the fish and greatly concentrates their flavor. The mold is then scraped off and the process is repeated two to three times. The number of times this process is repeated determines the type of katsuobushi. If it is done three times it is called honkarebushi (本枯節) (true dried fillet). The most expensive katsuobushi is dried using this process for as long as two years. The result is a fish that has the same hardness as a very hard wood. Traditionally the fish is shaved with a Katsuobushi kezuriki (鰹節削り器), a wooden box fitted with a razor sharp blade. The shavings are pink in color, extremely thin and translucent. Katsuobushi is often added to other Japanese dishes and when they are sprinkled on top of hot dishes, such as soups, the rising steam makes the much-thinner-than-paper flakes "dance". It is a sight to behold and enjoy. However, if you add katsuobushi to your dishes, be careful because a little goes a very long way. Don't overdo it!

In addition to the bonita flavoring and the miso, a large piece of seaweed known as konbu is added to the stock. It comes in large leaves, you must cut it to fit in the pot. Good konbu has a whitish powder on it's surface. At least one Internet video suggests wiping this power off with a wet towel. That recommendation is suspect, the white powder actually is important to the depth of the taste. Most konbu is harvested in the cold ocean waters of Japan's northernmost island, Hokkaido. The home of katsuobushi is in the southeastern region of the main island of Honshu and there has been a vital trade route from Hokkaido to the south since the early 17th century.

Miso soup can contain many different ingredients, however, tofu, wakame (ワカメ) dried seaweed and Japanese enokitake (榎茸) or "enoki" mushrooms are, by far, the most popular. Tofu comes in soft, medium and firm styles. Perhaps soft tofu is the most traditional for miso soup, but this is really up to the preference of the cook. Wakame dried seaweed is true magic. Before it is added to the soup it is in the form of very small dried bits. A minute after it is in the soup it becomes a silky marvel that tastes great and has a very nice texture. When I didn't have any wakame, I've tried making the soup with spinach, and indeed some English language recipes suggest this. However, unless you have a miso soup emergency (Heaven forbid!), resist this idea as the results will pale in comparison to the real stuff.

The last ingredient is enoki mushrooms, which are sold in a bunch. Their stems are long and thin and their heads are small as a green pea. They have a delicate taste and texture. Other mushrooms can be substituted, but results may be less desirable.

Japanese cuisine is based on an esthetic that appreciates not only the taste of a dish but its presentation and texture. Good miso soup looks, tastes and feels like a work of culinary art when done properly.

All the ingredients for this soup can be purchased at Mitsuwa Market or any other Japanese food market.

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of water
  • 1 ounce of konbu seaweed
  • 1/2 ounce of katsuobushi bonita flakes
  • 3 tablespoons wakame seaweed
  • 6 level tablespoons shiro miso (white miso)
  • 1/3 of a package of enoki mushrooms
  • 6 ounces of tofu (half a standard package)


Cook's note: Unfortunately, most of the ingredients for this recipe are sold in amounts that are much more than needed for this recipe which serves 6. The konbu, katsuobushi, wakame and the miso keep very well, but the mushrooms and tofu should be used within a week's time to avoid spoilage. Usually (not always) tofu is packed in water and must be refrigerated after the package is open. Tofu will last considerably longer if you store it in water and change the water daily. Please note that this recipe generally has more solid ingredients (wakame, enoki and tofu) than might be typical for traditional miso soup which is generally more brothy.

Preparation:

Cook's note: Temperature and time are very important to this recipe, miso soup should not be boiled.

  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch square cubes
  2. Cut the enoki mushrooms in half (to the point where the individual stalks separate).
  3. Add 5 cups of water to a pot and heat to the point that it is very hot to touch, but not hotter (about 110 degrees Fahrenheit).
  4. Add the konbu seaweed and seep for 30 minutes. (Make sure the water doesn't get too hot).
  5. Remove the konbu and save for a different Japanese dish or discard it
  6. Heat the broth almost to boiling level (but not boiling) and add the katsuobushi.
  7. After one minute, strain the broth with a cloth-lined (cheesecloth works fine) strainer into a bowl. Do not squeeze!
  8. Heat the broth to almost a boil
  9. Add the tofu, wakame seaweed and enoki mushrooms
  10. Heat for a minute and a half (again, don't boil)
  11. Serve in small bowls and garnish with a few small rings of scallions (green onion).

Itadakimasu! (a humble expression of gratitude, used before dining but also used in other contexts such as receiving a gift from an older person or an award).

Recipe and text by T. Johnston-O'Neill
Photo by Emily Johnston-O'Neill

Tarte Tatin

French Tarte Tatin is caramelized "upside-down" pie, and is a signature French dish most typically made with apples.

According to legend, the Tarte Tatin was invented at the end of the 19th century in the town of Lamotte-Beuvron in central France. There are actually several competing stories about how the dessert was first created, but the most popular version claims it was first served by the the Tatin sisters, who managed a well known hotel in Lamotte-Beuvron that still exists today under the name of Hotel Tatin. Stephanie Tatin, the sister who did most of the cooking for the hotel's restaurant, was preparing an apple pie one day. As the story goes, she let the apples, sugar and butter cook unwatched for too long and the mixture started to caramelize and burn. Wishing to save the dish, she covered it with a pie crust and then baked it in the oven. According to this story, the hotel guests were delighted by the results, and tarte tatin was born. The story probably owes more to good marketing than historical fact, as "upside down" pies (either apple or pear) were previously known in the Sologne region where Lamotte-Beuvron is located.

The recipe gained fame due to the efforts of food critic Maurice Edmond Sailland, who wrote under the pen name of Curnonsky. Although the two sisters never named the dish, Curnonsky wrote many books dedicated to regional and provincial cuisine as well as the best restaurants in France. In 1926, in a book covering the region of Orleans, he published a recipe which he named Tarte Tatin. The dish really took off when it became a featured dish in the 1930's as "tarte des demoiselles Tatin" (Tatin sister's tarte). Louis Vaudable, the owner of Maxims, claims to have learned about the recipe directly from the Tatin sisters themselves; however Vaudable, who was born in 1902, was only 4 years old when the sisters retired from working in the hotel, and the Vaudable family didn't acquire Maxims until 1932, casting a more than a dollop of doubt on his story.

Nowadays this pie is a classic French dish served in many restaurants. It differs in taste and consistency from either standard apple pies or other sorts of tartes where the fruit is less well-cooked. Felicity Cloake of the Guardian described Tarte Tatin as "a glorious sticky sweet toffee-topped French treat and one of the things apples most want to be when they grow up." Choosing the right apples is extremely important. You need apples that are firm and will stand up to prolonged cooking without breaking apart. Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady, McIntosh, Pippin, Winesap (the editor's all-time favorite apple!), and Golden Delicious are all good choices. Some cooks use more than one kind. As having too much juice in the resulting tarte will make the pastry soggy, Gordon Ramsay suggests peeling and slicing the apples a day before and storing them in your refrigerator uncovered.

Tarte Tatin is usually served with some whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. French tarte purists, however, see such complements as abominations. In 1979, an association called the Confrérie des Lichonneux de Tarte Tatin de Lamotte-Beuvron was founded. Its aim is to have the traditional recipe of the famous dessert of the Tatin sisters upheld with the utmost respect. For the members, the pie is always served plain, without cream. Some purists also forgo any sort of additional flavoring such as cinnamon, vanilla, or brandy.

Although there are only a handful of ingredients in Tarte Tatin, there is wide disagreement as to the optimal way to prepare the dish. Julia Child says to mix all the ingredients in a pie pan, top with a crust and bake it in an oven. Unfortunately this method does not result in as much caramelization as might be desirable. Other cooks suggest assembling the dish in the way Child recommends, but then simmering it on a stove top before it is baked in the oven. Larousse recommends cooking everything (without the crust) on the stove-top until it turns a golden brown. Martha Stewart's recipe calls for caramelizing the sugar and water first, then adding the butter, followed by arranging the apples in the skillet and cooking on low for 20 minutes.

There is also a large variation in the way different recipes say you should cut the apples. Many recipes call for simply cutting them in half and arranging them in a single layer. Others call for quartering the apples, and yet other recipes call for slicing the apples thinner. Some suggest a mixture of halves and quarters. Some recipes are arithmetically challenged, showing pictures of completed tartes that have far more halves than twice the number of apples called for in the list of ingredients!

Most recipes call for using a cast iron skillet for preparing the tarte. It is important that the filling comes as close to the top rim of the pan as possible before the crust is laid on to prevent everything becoming a big mess when the tarte is flipped over on its crust.

Most often, a normal pie crust (aka pate brisee or shortcut pastry) is used, while some versions use filo dough.

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 apples (see comments above)
  • 1 pie crust
  • 3 tablespoons of water
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered cinnamon
  • Vanilla sugar or vanilla bean seeds

Preparation:

  1. Peel the apples and cut them in half. Cut out the apple cores with a spoon. Cut half of the halves once again to make quarters. Set aside. If time permits, store the apples uncovered in your refrigerator for a day.
  2. In a skillet, simmer the water and sugar until it turns golden brown.
  3. Stir in the butter.
  4. Place the apple halves in the skillet, packing them tightly with cut side up. Fill in the cracks on top until the apples crown the skillet.
  5. Cook on medium low until the apples turn golden brown. From time to time, flatten down with a spatula. Try not to burn the filling.
  6. Dust the apples with vanilla sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Remove from the heat and cover with a pie crust. Press well and tuck in the edges of the crust.
  8. Cook in the oven at 350F for 35 to 40 minutes.
  9. Eat lukewarm with some whipping cream, vanilla ice cream, or if you are a Tarte Tatin purist, plain.

Bon Appétit!

Recipe and photo by Manon Nectoux

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The Joomla! content management system lets you create webpages of various types using extensions. There are 5 basic types of extensions: components, modules, templates, languages, and plugins. Your website includes the extensions you need to create a basic website in English, but thousands of additional extensions of all types are available. The Joomla! Extensions Directory is the largest directory of Joomla extensions.

Components are larger extensions that produce the major content for your site. Each component has one or more "views" that control how content is displayed. In the Joomla administrator there are additional extensions such as Menus, Redirection, and the extension managers.

Modules are small blocks of content that can be displayed in positions on a web page. The menus on this site are displayed in modules. The core of Joomla! includes 24 separate modules ranging from login to search to random images. Each module has a name that starts mod_ but when it displays it has a title. In the descriptions in this section, the titles are the same as the names.

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These modules display information from components other than content and user. These include weblinks, news feeds and the media manager.

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A menu can range from extremely simple (for example the top menu or the menu for the Australian Parks sample site) to extremely complex (for example the About Joomla! menu with its many levels). They can also be used for other types of presentation such as the site map linked from the "This Site" menu.

Breadcrumbs provide users with information about where they are in a site.

Templates give your site its look and feel. They determine layout, colours, typefaces, graphics and other aspects of design that make your site unique. Your installation of Joomla comes prepackaged with three front end templates and two backend templates. Help

Plugins are small task oriented extensions that enhance the Joomla! framework. Some are associated with particular extensions and others, such as editors, are used across all of Joomla. Most beginning users do not need to change any of the plugins that install with Joomla. Help