Apple Tarte Tatin with Red Wine-Vanilla Caramel Sauce

Fall is one of my favorite seasons: watching the changing of leaves on the trees, smelling the burning of firewood coming from neighbor's chimneys in the early evening, having college football back in full swing (of course), and finding apples showing up everywhere at Farmer's Markets. 

Though here in California they are available throughout the year, I prefer to rapidly consume this fantastic fruit during its peak season during the Fall months. And, one of my all-time favorite way to use them is in a flaky and subtle-y sweet Apple Tarte Tatin. 

To those unfamiliar with an apple tarte tatin, it literally is an upside down apple tart that consists of apples sauteed in butter and sugar, topped with puff pastry, baked until golden brown, and then is inverted onto a plate to showcase the ooey-gooey caramelized goodness of Granny Smith apples on top of a crisp, layered crust. And, in the case for this recipe, I have added some Pinot Noir to the process, leaving this dessert even more decadent and tasty.

So, move over, apple pie - and welcome a "grown up" version of the iconically classic dessert that is extremely easy to make and "leaves-you-speechless"-ly delicious.


(I have adapted this recipe from Tyler Florence - this makes 1 tarte tatin, but you will see in the photos I have doubled the recipe)

4 tablespoons (2oz) butter
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus 1 C heavy cream
3/4 cup red wine, preferably Pinot Noir
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, halved, and cored
1 sheet puff pastry from box, defrosted, and slightly rolled out
1 8" - 10" ramekin, cake pan (with solid bottom), or skillet/cast iron pan

Pre-heat the oven to 350*F.

First, begin by making the Pinot Noir caramel sauce that will coat the bottom of the pan; in a sauce pot, melt together the butter and sugar until mixture starts to caramelize and turns deep brown in color, constantly stirring (about 8-10 minutes).

Remove from heat, and carefully and slowly begin to stir in 1/4 C cream (there will be a lot of release of steam from the sugar, so be careful while doing this step). Caramel will start to bubble, and continue to stir cream until bubbles subside.

Next, slowly stir in wine to caramel, being careful as once again steam will be released from the pot and caramel will bubble.

After wine in completely incorporated, add the vanilla beans. Split the bean down the middle lengthwise, and using the back of your knife, scrape out the vanilla from the pod.

Add to the caramel and stir together well, as vanilla beans will tend to clump up together.


Pour caramel into prepared dishes for tarte tatin, about 1/2" thick.

The caramel will be dark, but not this dark - the photo just didn't come out that well. With the leftover caramel, add the 1C of cream, return pot back to stove, heat caramel until bubbles form and remove fro heat. Reserve for topping at the end.

Next, onto the apples. Peel, halve, core, and slice into 8 large chunks from each half.

You can use a melon baller or ice cream scoop (as I have done) to remove the core.

Next, starting around the outside of your baking vessel of choice, start to "pack" the apples into the caramel sauce. This is a key step to make sure the apples are tightly shoved in to keep the caramel from oozing up too much.

Next up, the puff pastry topping. I like to put the ramekin on top of the pastry to help measure the size I need to cut. Use a knife and cut out a circle of the dough that is slightly bigger than the ramekin.

Put the puff pastry on top of the apples, and prick the dough with a fork - this will help the pastry in the baking process from not over "inflating". The tarte tatins are now ready for their time in the oven. Place on cookie sheet (caramel may ooze over the ramekins), and bake at 350*F for 30 minutes or until puff pastry is golden brown.

Honestly, it doesn't get much better than this. 

Once out of the oven, allow the tarts to rest for about 15 minutes to cool off. Using a large plate, place on top of the ramekin and carefully "flip" the ramekin onto the plate so that the puff pastry is on the bottom and the apples are on top (tarts can also be completely cooled overnight and reheated, inverted, and served the next day or the following).

Slice into wedges, and serve with some vanilla bean ice cream and a drizzle of the red wine caramel sauce. And then, DEVOUR.

This dessert is perfectly sweet - not too much or too little, it's just about perfect. The addition of the red wine in the sauce is a fantastic balance to the natural sugar from the apples and the sugar and butter from the caramel. And, anything with puff pastry is just plain delicious. My girlfriends who were over for dinner raved about this "twist" on the classic apple pie, as did dinner guests last night. 

And, as I have been told I never add any pics of myself to this blog, I thought it fitting to put this one up, seeing as I was pretty happy to be plating one of my all-time favorite desserts. I hope it becomes one of your too - cheers and enjoy!

Sunday Morning French Toast with Caramelized Banana and Pecan Compote

When it comes to breakfast, anyone who knows me knows damn well there are only two things I ever want, whether at a restaurant or enjoying the first meal of the day at home: bacon and eggs. Honestly, I find perfectly cooked bacon and freshly cracked eggs simply scrambled or "fried" over medium absolutely heavenly.

But, from time to time, I resort back to my childhood cravings of pancakes, French toast, Belgian waffles, crepes, omelets...

As was the case this past Sunday morning. Coming off of a socially busy Saturday filled with lots of cocktails and plenty of college football, something extremely comforting, like French toast, was calling my name. And, what started out as "simply French toast" turned out to be a masterpiece of breakfast-deliciousness.

May I present the ultimate French Toast with Banana and Pecan Compote.

Oh yeah. Commence drooling.

French Toast:
  • 1 loaf Dutch Crunch or other dense white bread, cut into 1" slices
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Banana and Pecan Compote
  • 2 bananas, sliced into 1/2" slices
  • 1/4 stick (1oz) butter
  • 1/2 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/3 C toasted pecans, chopped
First, slice the bread, love me some Dutch Crunch:

Next, start the bananas: melt the butter in a large sauce pan and add bananas when hot; saute for about 3 minutes until golden brown on one side (they will get soft, so make sure not to over cook).

Add the honey and the syrup and reduce a bit, until slightly thick:

Add chopped pecans to the banana mixture:

Allow banana mixture to sit while preparing the french toast. Whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Begin by dredging each slice of bread through the egg mixture.

Heat a skillet over medium heat with a little butter and add each slice to the pan. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes, or until they are a deep golden brown.

Once every slice has been cooked, PLATE!

As it was such a gorgeous morning, Fellow Foodie, myself, and a best friend enjoyed this amazing breakfast outside on the patio, taking in the sunshine as well as gorging ourselves on fresh Farmer's Market fruit, French toast, and, of course, some bacon...


Loading up my plate with a few slices of the toast, slathering each with a little butter, topping with some banana-pecan compote, and drizzling a little more maple syrup on top - I couldn't help but be transported to childhood breakfasts where I couldn't wait to dive in to a sugary, syrupy mess.

And boy, was it deliciously incredible. The caramelized bananas were deliciously sweet with the added honey and syrup, and the pecans were a fantastic crunch to the softness of the toast. I could have eaten the entire bowl of banana compote over even oatmeal it was so good. Next time, I may throw in some rum, you know, just to "spice" it up a bit!

All in all, it was a fabulous breakfast. I think it definitely helped to "soak up" the shenanigans from the day and night before, as any good French Toast does.

But, this French Toast was definitely taken to the next level, and I can't wait to make it again. Cheers and enjoy!

Spinach Salad with Kalamata Olives, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Marcona Almonds, and Burrata Cheese

For some, cleaning out the refrigerator can be a chore. I am not referring to actually cleaning the fridge with spray and a sponge; I mean, trying to figure out what to do with whatever is still lingering on the shelves and in the drawers.

For me, it is a culinary "mystery box"; as in, what can I put together to create a new and inspiring meal? As I have written about in other mystery box entries, I really like the "creativity cloud" that hovers over me when I am forced to make something yummy out of what is leftover in my fridge.

And, with the fact I was headed out of town for a bit, I opened the fridge last week to find these little gems of ingredients for my dinner:

"Mystery Box" ingredients:
  • Organic baby spinach
  • Kalamata olives, pitted
  • Sun dried tomatoes, julienned
  • Burrata cheese
  • Fresh chives
  • Lemon
  • Marcona almonds
  • (oh, and some vino...)
These ingredients were just screaming to be converted into a fantastic salad, and that is what I set out to make.

  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Add all of the ingredients to a bowl, taste for seasoning, and whisk with a fork

I prefer to slice the olives in half...

The rest of the ingredients I used: 
  • 1 tbsp chives, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 c marcona almonds
  • 1/4 c sliced kalamata olives
  • 1 giant wedge burrata cheese

Oh, burrata, how I love to use you, as I have so many times this Summer.

Oh, and don't forget the spinach! I just grabbed a huge handful. Toss spinach in bowl with vinaigrette and plate.

Next, top off with burrata cheese and drizzle what vinaigrette is left in the bowl on top of the cheese.

Last, but not least, top with olives, sun dried tomatoes, almonds, and chives.

This salad was literally thrown together in about five minutes and was absolutely fantastic. The lemon and chives were fantastic together with the spinach, and the creaminess of the burrata cheese helped to round out the salty olives and the sweet-yet-slightly-acidic sun dried tomatoes. The almonds were just a great crunchy addition. 

While I was on vacation I actually thought about this salad and how I couldn't wait to make it again when I got home. So, instead of making it a "mystery box", I went straight to the market and bought the same ingredients just to keep on hand (and another bottle of wine...). I am looking forward to keeping this dish around as a staple, and I wonder what will be lurking around the corners of my fridge in the next few weeks to create another fantastic meal!