After a beautiful day of hiking, biking, and beer, I could not think of a better way to top off my evening than trying out a new recipe. I chose the Surprise Tatin (pg. 22), as the ingredients were simple and few, and I knew it would be a one-stop shopping trip. Being new to the world of “upscale” cooking, I did not know what a tatin was, so I looked it up; its just a form of tart that you bake upside-down (like a pineapple upside-down cake) and caramelize.
This recipe requires dried cherry tomatoes and Chef says you use “commercial sun-dried tomatoes in oil to save yourself making the oven-dried” ones, but I figured if I’m going to do the thing, I’m going to do it right. So I bought some nice organic cherry tomatoes and oven-dried them (which took 45 min).I then did the potatoes (which ended up being of a bigger variety than Chef’s) and browned the onions.
Next was caramelizing the butter and sugar. I have never done this before and did not know what to look for. The butter and sugar mix started browning right away and bubbling, but not getting thick, so I kept stirring. Then it started to separate and I thought “uh-oh”…but then it started to thicken and I could smell the caramel! I got excited! But I also didn’t know when to stop and I may have burnt it a little…but it ended up tasting great anyway.
I then put in the potato slices and stuffed the browned onions and the oven-dried tomatoes in between the potato circles. The onions went in nicely, but the tomatoes…first of all, while they were dried, they were not all of the way dried like the sun-dried tomatoes you buy at the store, so as I tried to stuff some into the smaller cracks, they burst! This wasn’t too big of a problem, as they were small and mostly just burst into the pan, but just something to be wary of. They were also still hot! Advice: do the tomatoes early so they have time to cool a bit before trying to stuff the little guys into the tatin.
Then cheese, pastry shell, and into the oven! Another bit of advice here: put the cake pan on a cookie sheet to bake. I did not and, while I did tuck the puff pastry into the sides of the pan and around the potatoes as Chef said to do, my tatin cooked over and now my oven is a bit of a mess… Also, when I pulled it out, it didn’t look very pretty where is cooked over.
Then I flipped it onto a plate and it was done and ready to eat! The flipping was easier than I anticipated, thinking that it might get stuck – it did not! The end product was very nice! Similar to the picture in the book, except I used larger potatoes and my caramelizing got a bit well done. I was very happy with the final product. It was relatively easy to make, but did take about 2 hours to prep, cook, and bake everything. So, while the work and ingredients are simple, make sure you plan ahead so you have enough time. I give this dish 5 stars. It ended up tasting delicious! It indeed was a “real treat for potato lovers,” as Chef Ottolenghi said it would be.
On the left is mine, on the right is the one pictured in the book (pg.23).