Whether we admit it or not, we all have prejudices. Some are bigger than others. Some are not really of any consequence, expect to ourselves and our stubborn inability to let go.
Hopefully, as we grow, as we meet new people, encounter new things, ideas, tastes, we are open-minded enough to allow ourselves to learn, to let go and to embrace anything new that makes sense to us and our life view.
One of my inconsequential prejudices, most of which, funnily enough, revolve around food, is those recipes you find in gossip magazines. I would flick through these magazines at the café whilst waiting for my sister, and I would inevitably roll my eyes at the featured recipes.
I can’t even really explain why, but somewhere in my twisted little head, these weren’t ‘real’ recipes; they were fad, diet or celebrity recipes. Perhaps this is the case with some of the more, ah, trashy magazines.
A few years ago, however, I came across a mammoth cookbook, simply called Cook. I quickly grabbed it off the shelf, looked at the front cover, and promptly frowned. I was holding a 688-page cookbook complied by The Australian Women’s Weekly, a celebrity-lifestyle magazine. It only took a few minutes to read the introduction and have a quick flick through before I was heading to the counter to purchase the book.
It took this magazine, which has been around longer that I’ve been alive, producing this cookbook that provided me with a culinary history lesson and taught me about the test kitchens associated with magazines. It took a 688-page book to finally convince me that not all recipes in glossy mags are rubbish.
Since then, they have produced a few more massive cooking tomes, and I am actually quite proud to say that I own them all. Over the years, I have cooked beautiful meals from them, learnt techniques I’d never heard of before, and have referred to them when recipes from other places have failed.
If you want to cook something, cook it, make it your own, get inspired by it. No matter where it came from.
Tomato Tarte Tatins with Crème Fraiche Sauce
Recipe (mostly) from The Australian Women’s Weekly Bake.
Ingredients for the Tarte Tatins
- 9 small, firm tomatoes (approx. 800g)
- 30g butter
- 1 garlic clove (crushed)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ sheets ready-rolled butter puff pastry (thawed)
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 6 sprigs fresh baby basil for garnish (optional)
Ingredients for the Crème Fraiche Sauce
- 20g butter
- 2 shallots (finely chopped)
- 240g crème fraiche
- 80ml water
Method for the Tarte Tatins
- Peel the tomatoes via your preferred method (gas flame, boiling water followed by an ice bath etc. If you are unfamiliar with peeling tomatoes, The Shiksa in the Kitchen has a great how-to guide).
- Preheat oven to 220°C.
- Cut the peeled tomatoes into quarters and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Gently flatten the tomato flesh.
- Melt the butter in a large frying pan over low heat and cook the garlic, stirring, until fragrant. Add the sugar and vinegar, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Place the tomatoes into the frying pan in a single layer. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes are soft, turning once halfway through.
- Grease six, 1-cup metal pie dishes.
- Cut six rounds from the pastry using a cutter that is slightly larger than the pie dishes.
- Divide the tomatoes among the pie dishes and top each one with a pastry round, pressing down gently.
- Brush the top of each pastry round with egg and bake for about 15 minutes or until the pastry is browned lightly.
- Once removed from the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes before removing them and inverting them so that the tomatoes are on top. Garnish with baby basil sprigs.
Method for the Crème Fraiche Sauce
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Cook the shallots, stirring, for about 3 minutes or until softened.
- Add the crème fraiche and cook, stirring, over low heat, until heated through.
- Remove from heat and stir through the water.
- Divide the sauce among six deep plates and top with the cooked tomato tarte tatins.
Note: This is not overly, but it makes a great first course served with a crisp garden salad dressed with a little oil, lemon juice and sea salt.