Bill has been busy boxing the house up while I have been busy unpacking and getting settled. It's like we are on opposite side of a mirror, a very E.A. Poe-esque mirror.
After a few days in Birmingham, I still felt like I was teetering around the kitchen. Months spent between a hotel room and a suitcase can really make you feel that the space you are in is still temporary. I had to do very basic things to ease myself into the new house. Walk barefoot in the yard. Cook dinner. Meet the neighbors.
I am back in Charleston for the next couple of weeks and I find myself looking for other anchors. Landmarks, familiar paths and sounds. I listen to the oysters down below and their clap-clapping choir. I observe the fiddler crabs crossing over the edge of the yard with their funky sidestep motion. But again, I find my balance back in the kitchen.
Clare and Laura are here. Tami will be joining us next week. We are teaching a couple of 4 day workshops on the Isle of Palms, here in Charleston. It's good to have them around. In a world where you are constantly on the go, without an on/off switch, it's pure pleasure to take those 4 days to teach, share, communicate and talk about the subject that fuels and nourish us, photography. Food, people, light, composition.
Almost as soon as I got home, I pulled out big bowl, made tart dough, peeled a few apples and started making my grandmother's Apple Tart. Thin, filled with vanilla infused applesauce and topped with as many apple slices as could fit in the pan. Mamie Paulette was quite famous for her apple tarte. I am convinced now that it had special powers whether you were the one making it or eating it. If you shared it, it was twice as good.
Sometimes, it only takes an apple tarte to help you find your sense of place again.
P.S: Thank you Ana of Blog Milk for the blog redesign! It was such a pleasure to work with her and such an easy process. Once I had chosen my favorite templates among the ones she creates, we worked together to customize it with my own vibes. I hope you like it too...!
Thin Apple Tart:
Serves 6 to 8
For the crust:
2 tablespoons (20gr) slivered almonds
1/2 (60gr) cup powdered sugar, unsifted, divided
1/2 stick (57gr) unsalted butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
3/4 cup (90gr) Jeanne's gluten free all-purpose flour mix
1 egg yolk
Place almonds and 1 tablespoon powdered sugar in a food processor.
Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, ground nuts and salt on medium speed until well-combined.
Slowly add remaining powdered sugar and flour and mix well. Add the egg yolk and mix until incorporated. Shape dough into a ball and flatten into a disc. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for two hours or overnight. Place the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap or parchment paper and roll it out to about 1/4-inch thick round. Place in a 9-inch tart pan, trim the edges. Prick the dough with a fork and refrigerate 30 minutes up to 2 hours. (you can even freeze the dough in the tart pan at this point and let thaw in the fridge overnight when you are ready). In the meantime, prepare the applesauce.
Apple Compote: (you can prepare it up to 2 days in advance)
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tablespoons sugar
6 medium apples (Golden Delicious apples)
1/4 cup to 1/3 cup (60 to 80ml) water
On a flat surface, cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise without cutting all the way through and scrape the seeds from the pods with a pairing knife. Place them in a large saucepan along with the sugar. Set aside. Core and roughly chop the apples. Add them to the vanilla and sugar mixture along with the water. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the heat down, cover and let the apples stew for about 1 hour. Check every 20 minutes to and add water to the mixture if the liquid evaporates faster than the apples can cook. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Scoop about 1 1/2 cups applesauce inside the prepared tart pan.
2 tablespoons (15gr) granulated sugar
zest of half a lemon
2-3 medium apples
Preheat oven to 350F and position a rack in the middle. In a small bowl, rub together the sugar and lemon zest so that the citrus natural oils can flavor the sugar. Core and thinly slice the apples. Decoratively arrange the slices over the compote and sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the top apples are golden brown.