Apple Tarte Tatin

Isn't it strange when you look around at all the people in the world, and realize that every single thing that they're wearing, they chose to put on that day. 
Isn't that insane? 
Clothes are perhaps one of the only things that people have any real control over. 
Dressing up is a way to be empowered. 
This Apple Tarte Tatin is like your Little Black Dress that shows enough cleavage so that you feel voluptuous but not slutty.  
It's perfect and easy going and classy. 
It's simple. 
It's divine. 
It goes with everything. 
And everyone loves it. 

Sophia Loren 

Distressing Facts in Life Part I: Many people do not know what an Apple Tarte Tatin even is. 


Basically it's apples that are cooked in butter and caramelized sugar until they almost have the consistency of jam. It's a slice of beauty. 

Do yourself a favor. 
Get classy. 
Get the Little Black Dress out. 
Make Apple Tarte Tatin
Exercise some beautiful control in your life. 

Apple Tarte Tatin
via SmittenKitchen.com

6 medium apples (I used Pink Lady apples and they were oh so good.) 
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) butter
1 1/3 cup (266 grams) sugar, divided
Puffed pastry, chilled or a single Pie Crust

A 9-inch ovenproof skillet, heavy enough that you fear dropping it on your toes

Peel apples, halve and core apples. Once cored, cut lengthwise into quarters (i.e. four pieces per apple) and cut a bevel along their inner edge, which will help their curved exteriors stay on top as they rest on this edge. (You can see this beveled edge here.) Toss apple chunks with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Set aside for 15 minutes; this will help release the apple’s juices, too much of them and the caramel doesn’t thicken enough to cling merrily to the cooked apples.
Melt butter in your skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle in remaining 1 cup sugar and whisk it over the heat until it becomes the palest of caramels. Off the heat, add the apples to the skillet, arranging them rounded sides down in one layer. Lay any additional apple wedges rounded sides down in a second layer, starting from the center.
Return the pan to the stove and cook in the caramel for another 20 to 25 minutes over moderately high heat. With a spoon, regularly press down on the apples and baste them caramel juices from the pan. If it seems that your apples in the center are cooking faster, swap them with ones that are cooking more slowly, and rotate apples that are cooking unevenly 180 degrees. The apples will shrink a bit and by the end of the cooking time, your second layer of apples might end up slipping into the first — this is fine.
Preheat oven to 400. Roll out your puffed pastry to a 9-inch circle and trim if needed. Cut four vents in pastry. Remove skillet from heat again, and arrange pastry round over apples. Tuck it in around the apples for nicer edges later. Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Once baked, use potholders to place a plate or serving dish (larger in diameter than the pan, learn from my messes!) over the pasty and with a deep breath and a quick prayer, if you’re into that kind of thing, unmold the pastry and apples at once onto the plate. If any apples stubbornly remain behind in the pan, nudge them out with a spatula.
Eat immediately.

How to Be Brave With Squash

A letter to my brothers:

I miss you.

I miss your hands and your smiles and the real talk and I miss how noisy you are and how nosey you are, and even though we live in the same city, I'm living such a different life now, and I wish I could share the best bits of it with you, because I know you'd like it.

I want to tell you some stuff that has been in my head.

I want to tell you that people are awesome. That if you ask, people will tell you really magical things. That there is so much learning you can do, if you just listen. No one ever told me. 
I want to tell you that people are disappointing. That given the chance, people will disappoint you. And that this is the hardest lesson to learn. No one ever told me. 

I want to tell you that no one is actually judging you, and if they are: fuck 'em. 
I want to tell you that you should not be afraid, that whatever you are doing in this moment, is okay.
I want to tell you that sleep is really grand. 
I want to tell you to hold doors open. 
I want to tell you to stay away from users and losers. 
I want to tell you that making things is good. Even if what you make is shitty.

I want to tell you about this squash.

It was too big.


I bought it with some friends at the Hope Farmer's Market. I think the name of the squash is "Marrow Squash." It was huge. As big as a medium sized pumpkin. Which is very large for a squash. 
I called it my baby. 
Which was awkward when I cut it up and roasted it and baked it into a savory tart. 

And it was really fucking good. 

Darling boys, here is what I really want to tell you. 

Be brave. Be brave. Be brave. 

Be brave in the kitchen, especially with intimidating squashes. 
Be brave with putting yourself out there. 
Be brave with friends. 
Be brave with strangers. 
Be brave enough to go to the party, and brave enough to leave when you're ready.

And as we all run into strange new worlds, in which we lose touch more easily and speak less, I just want you to know this:

If nothing else, be brave with the squash. 


How To Be Brave With Squash

I cut my monster baby squash in half, scooped out the seeds, and rubbed the insides with olive oil, salt, pepper, paprika, red pepper flakes, dried thyme and basil. I cooked it for half an hour, at 4oo degrees, until the flesh was soft. And then, when it was cooked through, I scooped the insides out, chopped them into a soft pulp, and added more salt. Then I patted it into a soft shell of uncooked pie dough that I hadn't used yet, grated Some Very Fine Irish Cheddar Cheese over it and baked it at 375 for 30 minutes. 

It tasted good. 

I was lucky. 

Strawberry Custard Pie

Let me tell you about something that is really spectacular. 


I mean. Friends are the people who hold your hand when you are crying because LIFE is just too much to handle, and friends are the people you jump on beds with, and friends are the people who you are so comfortable with you don't even have to talk, and friends are the people who get your thought machine and your laughter machine and your happiness machine going. Friends are the ones who serve as your wingmen, who text you inspirational quotes informing you to FUCKING LIGHTEN UP, who show you how to refold a paper crane six times until you finally know how to do it, who assure you that you didn't do anything TOO embarrassing last night, who dance with you in awkward public places, who call you at midnight, the ones who tell you that you better get it together, the ones who walk you back to your apartment late at night, who come to your shows, who write you letters telling you all the things you needed them to say without you even knowing that you needed them to say it, they're the people you spill to, they are the ones who somehow got your trust and wormed their way into your life without you even knowing it. And sometimes they are new/old strangers and sometimes you have known them since playgrounds and baby swimming pools. But somehow, they are THERE. 

Some come and go. Some never go away. Some keep your trust. Some lose it. 

And this is all painful and all good at the same time. 

Who can know why? 

All I want to say is that I am so impossibly grateful for the friends in my life. The new ones. The old ones. The best ones. Even the distant ones. 

They mean the world. 

I baked out all of this friend love into a Strawberry Custard Pie. Strawberry Custard Pie is dedicated to my frambly. For the good times and bad times we are about to have, and for all the talking and laughing we are going to do about it. 

I'm already so grateful. 


Strawberry Custard Pie

Pie Crust from BAKED by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together. Or, you can just do all of this with your fingers! 
Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using. 

5 eggs
1 scant c. sugar
4 T. melted butter
½ t. vanilla
1/4 t. cinnamon
about 2 pints strawberries

1/2 recipe Pie Crust

Position an oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350°.

Lightly butter a 9-inch pie plate. On a well-floured surface, roll pie dough into a circle large enough to cover the pie plate and hang 1 inch over the sides. Fit the dough into the pie plate, crimp the crust and place it in the refrigerator to chill while preparing the filling.
Beat the eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla and cinnamon in a mixer, or with a whisk, until completely combined and pale yellow. Remove the pie shell from the refrigerator, strawberries into shell, making an even layer. Pour filling over the fruit.

Place pie on baking sheet and bake for about 1 hour or until the filling has set and the crust is light brown. Allow the pie to cool. Eat.

Cherry Slab Pie

Meeting new people is hard. 

What do you talk about?

I usually start off with fashion related preliminaries: "I love your scarf." Or "sweet shoes." 
Then I don't know what to say. Sometimes we talk weather: "Gosh it's hot." 
Sometimes we figure out who our mutual friends are: "Wow we know the same people." 

And then I panic. What to say? What to say?

Depending on how poorly things are going, I inevitably ask: "Soooooo, what's your spirit animal?" 

This is may be the only thing I learned freshman year of college. 

For the clueless, your spirit or power animal is, according to Wikipedia representative of: "a person's connection to all life, their qualities of character and their power." It's tied up in Shamanism and totems and spirituality and all kinds of other stuff. The animal represents you and can be a symbol of your personal strength or guidance. 

Or something like that. 

People were into it. I've met cats, rabbits, lambs, mountain goats, wolves, butterflies, rabbits, birds of all kinds, dolphins, deer, pandas, monkeys... you get it. 

For a while I was a hummingbird: 
I think now I'm just a wren: 

But the thing is, only about 4% of the population REALLY likes talking about their spirit animal.

I think I'm going to start asking people about their spirit dessert. Because darling, I've found mine: 

I can envision this conversation at future parties: 
Me: (At a loss for what to say next) So. Umm. What's your spirit dessert?"
Other Person: (Begins backing away slowly) What?
Me: Oh, y'know! That dessert you have this really deep connection with, one that sort of describes your personality, that's a source of power and strength for you! Mine is Cherry Slab Pie! It's like a regular pie, except that it's flat and has like, DOUBLE THE CRUST, and there's this sweet/tart cherry filling and a drizzle of icing on top! And it's just, like, HEAVEN!
I'm telling you, I AM HEAVENLY! 

I'm going to make so many new friends. 

But really beauties, this pie. It is something else. Please make it. Enjoy it. Think of me. Because when I say it's my spirit dessert, I am so not kidding. 


Cherry Slab Pie
via SmittenKitchen.com who adapted it from Martha Stewart

1 recipe Best Pie Crust (recipe below) 

6 cups cherries, pitted (I used regular cherries, however, if using sour cherries, adjust sugar accordingly)
3/4 sugar*
1/4 cup cornstarch
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch or two of salt
2 tablespoons heavy cream or one egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons milk or water 
or 1 tablespoon water plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice (I did this to make the glaze more interesting)

Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, and salt. Stir to combine; set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger piece of dough into an 18-by-12-inch rectangle. Do your best to work quickly, keeping the dough as cold as possible (and tossing it in the freezer for a couple minutes if it softens too quickly; it is summer afterall) and using enough flour that it doesn’t stick to the counter. 
Transfer to a 15-by-10-by-1-inch rimmed baking sheet, (pastry will hang over sides of pan).  Pour cherry mixture into lined baking sheet; set aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out remaining piece of dough into a 16-by-11-inch rectangle. Drape over filling. Bring bottom pastry up and over top pastry. Pinch edges to seal. Using a fork, prick top crust all over. Brush with heavy cream or egg wash.
Bake until crust is golden and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack until just warm to the touch, about 45 minutes.
In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk, water or lemon juice (or combination thereof) until desired glaze consistency is achieved. Use a spoon to drizzle over top. Serve warm or room temperature. Or cold. It's really good cold. 

Best Pie Crust 
from BAKED by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito 

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
3 cups flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
In a food processor whirl together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the VERY COLD BUTTER into small pieces and blend until the mixture forms into pea-sized chunks. Dribble in water and whirl until dough just comes together.
Take dough out of processor and knead until dough comes together. Divide into two, wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for one hour before using.