In 2011, Gourmet released their list of the 50 Women Game Changers in Food. I stumbled on this entirely by accident. One week a couple of months ago, I was meal planning, and didn’t have access to my Ina Garten cookbooks. So, I googled the recipe I was looking for and found it on a blog that was making it’s way through the list (she’s number 39… I’m a little disgruntled that Rachael Ray is higher up than she is). I was inspired to do the same. I need to challenge myself more in the kitchen, and I thought this would be an excellent way to do so. As I’ve been planning for this, I’ve been flipping through cookbooks, checking out websites and buying new equipment, and I’m excited. I’m also really looking forward to learning more about these game changing women, and introducing myself to recipes I’ve never cooked before.
(And since this entire year-long project will be all recipes I’ve never made before, I can’t promise that everything will turn out the way I want it to. But whether a dish is a winner or an epic fail, I’m going to be completely honest about it.)
Number two on the list is Alice Waters.
I knew nothing about her when I started this, I had actually never even heard of her, but now I’m pretty much obsessed with her, and her book, The Art of Simple Food. Her food philosophy is that that cooking should be based on the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. Over the course of her career, her restaurant, Chez Panisse in Berkeley, has created a community of local farmers and ranchers who are dedicated to providing food through sustainable agriculture. And while I love that, what I love most about her is how her work has positively impacted children in her community, and throughout the United States.
She is one of the creators of the Edible Schoolyard, a one acre pieces of land behind a middle school. Working with the principal, they created the Edible Schoolyard, “which involves students in all aspects of farming the garden and preparing, serving, and eating food as a means of awakening their senses and encouraging awareness and appreciation of the transformative values of nourishment, community, and stewardship of the land.” While this project has its roots in Berkeley, it has spread to various places throughout the country, and there are now Edible Schoolyards in New York, New Orleans, San Francisco and Greensboro, NC.
As much as I love to cook and bake, I have a confession to make: making my own pastry dough freaks me out. I’m always worried that it won’t turn out right, so I just don’t make it. I always make do with a frozen, store bought pie crust. Making this, I learned I had nothing to be scared of. The dough came together really easily, and the flavor and texture were so much better you get with the frozen Pillsbury crust from the grocery store. I learned that dough is pretty forgiving. If it tears, or you roll it out too thin, you can just start over. When I placed the dough in my tart pan, the edge of the pan broke through the dough, so I just pinched it back together. This tart doesn’t look perfect, and that’s part of its charm.
Alice Waters Apple Tart
(Recipe found here.)
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/2 t. sugar
- 1/8 t. salt
- 6 T. unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons chilled water
- 2 lbs. of golden delicious apples (for me, it was three large apples)
- 2 T. of unsalted butter
- 2-3 T. of sugar
- Cores & peels from the apples
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- Combine flour, sugar and salt in your mixing bowl.
- Add 2 T. of the butter, and mix until dough resembles a coarse cornmeal. Add the rest of the butter and mix until the pieces are the size of lima beans.
- Slowly add water until dough has come together, and shape into a ball. Flatten into a 4″ disc, wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Remove from the fridge and let soften slightly. You want to be able to work with, but still want it to be cold.
- Roll into a 14″ circle on a lightly floured surface, and carefully move the dough to your tart pan.
- Melt the 2 T. of butter & set aside.
- Peel, core, and thinly slice apples (you want them about 1/8″ thick). Do not throw away the peels & cores.
- Arrange your apple slices in your tart pan, and then fold the dough that is hanging over the edge of your tart pan onto the apples and crimp edges at 1″ intervals.
- Brush melted butter over the dough edge and the apples, and sprinkle with the 3 T. of sugar.
- Bake for 45 minutes, rotating pan every 15 minutes. You want the edges of the apples to be lightly browned, and the crust to be a lovely golden brown.
- Add reserved cores & peels to a sauce pan. Add just enough water to cover them, and add 1/2 cup of sugar. Let simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes.
- Strain syrup (I used a fine mesh strainer) and throw out the pieces of apple. Add the syrup back to the sauce pan, crank up the heat to high, and let boil for five minutes.
This was absolutely perfect on its own, but it was even better with a dollop of homemade cinnamon whipped cream (1/2 pint of heavy cream, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, 1 t. of cinnamon – beat cream until stiff peaks form, mix in the powdered sugar & cinnamon). But with whipped cream (or vanilla ice cream…) or without, this is perfection. I love apple pie, but this was so incredible, I don’t know if I’ll ever make one again.