Wednesday, October 10, 2007

In the Garden of Eatin'

"Pie, pie, me oh my..."

I feel like I've been singing that little ditty from the movie "Michael" for most of the week. It's not often I bake pie, so when I whip out three in one week, it's downright heavenly.

Never mind that I haven't kept any of the pies strictly for myself. That's not the point. Pie is most definitely for sharing. Breaking bread with friends and family is one thing, emblematic of the solidity of community and communion. Pie is for celebrations, be they large holiday get-togethers or enjoying the richness of everyday life.

Pie, my Dear Readers, is for a party.

How fortunate, then, that the need to use the last of my Northern Spy apples coincided with the last class in this session of my dance group!

Though I'd planned to make yet another straightforward and wholesome apple pie, somehow I got it in my head that since we were having a hafla with Middle Eastern foods, perhaps I could tweak my tarte tatin recipe to take on some Mediterranean or Near Eastern flavors.

And guess what? I most certainly could!


I didn't follow the recipe exactly, as you can see. I used the crust like a regular pie crust, sauteed the apples separately (with cardamom and rose petals) before pouring them into the crust, and whipped up a syrup made from pomegranate molasses, local honey, and more cardamom to drizzle over the top.

If apples were the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, then this tart would most certainly have tempted Eve. (Actually, it tempted Eve, Sarah, the other students in the class, and most of all, our teacher Lena.)

At our hafla, we noshed first, as is only right and proper, enjoying the apple tart after
pleasant little smackerels of hummus, pita, and a fabulous flatbread known as za'atar manakish (for which I have got to get the recipe!). And after a bit of wine, we danced!

Best of all, we persuaded Lena to dance for us... and she was, as always, an inspiration. She didn't bring her snake along, but we were treated to a sinuous and superb dance nonetheless. (Sorry the photo is so dark... the lighting was low, and I still haven't figured out how to adjust the camera's settings for such things.)

In short, it was a great party and a great way to celebrate just being together and having a lot of fun with our dancing.

And it was the perfect pie to make our celebration complete!

Garden of Eden Apple Tart

Crust
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1/2 c unbleached flour
1/4 c sugar
1 egg
1/2 c unsalted butter

Sift flours and sugar into mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and break the egg into it. Cut butter into slices and arrange around the well. Cut through ingredients with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Gather together and knead pastry with cool hands. Shape into flattened disk, wrap in parchment or wax paper, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes.

Syrup
1 T honey
1 tsp pomegranate molasses
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Whisk together ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.

Filling
1/4 c sugar
2 T unsalted butter
2-3 medium apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp dried organic rose petals (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 F. Set pie plate on baking sheet.

Roll out pastry large enough to line a pie plate. Line pie plate, trim edges so that dough just hangs over the rim of the plate. Set aside.

Melt sugar and butter in saucepan. Add apples, cardamom, and rose petals and stir to coat apples. Cook over medium heat about 5 minutes or until slightly softened.

Pour apple mixture into prepared crust. Drizzle with syrup. Fold edges of crust over the apples for a rustic appearance. Bake tart 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Cool in pan on wire rack until ready to serve.

Serves 8-10

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