I've always wanted to host a dinner party. Always. In my Ideal Dinner Party Situation, everything would be perfect. The wine would be good, the table would be set in a fancy design, there'd be lots of people in lovely dresses/suits, the food would be amazing, and I would play the perfect hostess. Instead, we don't live in a house big enough to host a dinner party, so alas, I'll have to keep dreaming about the perfect dinner party. One day. It'll happen one day.
But in the meantime, I can have dinner with as many people as can fit in our lounge room, and around the tiny table that I borrowed from my Dad. That makes a total of four whole people. So there was Brent, Me, Brent's sister Kirby, and her boyfriend, Arie. We squished around this table that I set up (at the time, it didn't look like the one above. I didn't take any good photo's at the time, because I was embarrassed, I've never had people watch me take photos like that before, so I re-set the table when I was cleaning up this morning. Sneaky. In an Ideal World, my table setting would have looked [like this]), and ate this huge meal in the space of an hour, because we decided to catch a movie after. We had a simple tomato Bruschetta, Beouf Bourguignon (Julia Child's recipe, of course), and French Apple Tart (also Julia Child's). I could tell you about all the bad things about the meal, but let's focus on the positive, shall we? The tomato Bruschetta was nice, the tomato/fetta/red onion combination never fails. The sauce for the Bourguignon was really rich from the wine and tasted really good, but I think the mushrooms and the onions (which had been cooked in an indecent amount of butter) were my favourite bits. The apple tart looked really pretty, if I may say so myself, I was super proud of my lovely apple-pattern on the top. The apple sauce mixture underneath was really tasty and spiced just the right amount (it was even good for breakfast this morning with some yoghurt and some homemade granola). I'll give you the other recipes at a later date, but we'll start with the apple tart. As my Mum always says, eat dessert first. So that's what we'll do.
The apple tart wasn't hard to make, it was just time consuming: making the pastry, peeling/coring/slicing all the apples, making the apple sauce. But I think it's worth it, especially for a special occasion. It makes you feel very domestic-goddess, being able to produce something like this from your very own kitchen.
French Apple Tart:
From Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."
Makes one 25-26cm tart.
For the Pastry:
2 cups pastry flour ("00" flour)
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp white sugar
200g cold butter, chopped into bits
1/2 cup iced water
Mix flour, salt, sugar and butter in a big bowl. Rub the flour and butter together with the tips of your fingers until the mix resembles crumbs. Don't over mix, you don't want the butter to get too warm.
Add the water and quickly mix in with one hand. Add a few more drops of water if the mix hasn't come together. The dough should hold together without being sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board. With the heel, not the palm, of your hand, knead the dough to blend it together. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and wrap in baking paper and place in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight before using.
When ready to use, place the dough on a floured board. Roll out into a thin circle bigger than your baking tin. Lift the dough off the board and lay over your greased tin. Press the dough into the tin and prick all around with a fork. Cover with a square of baking paper and then pour in rice, dried beans or baking weights. Blind bake in a 200C preheated oven for 8-10 minutes until base is set. Remove the paper and weights and bake for another 3-5 minutes until pastry starts to colour.
For the Apple topping:
2 kg apples (I used golden delicious and fuji's)
1/3 cup apricot jam
2/3 cup white sugar
3 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
Peel, core and quarter the apples (You might like to have a sit on the couch whilst you're doing this). Cut enough of the apples into thin lengthwise slices to make 3 cups. Toss them with 1 tsp lemon juice and 2 tbsp sugar. (for the top of the tart).
Cut the remaining apples into chunks, about 8 cups, and place in a pan with 3 tbsp water. Cook, covered, over a low heat for 20 mins, stirring occasionally. The apples should be tender.
Mix in the remaining ingredients. Bring to the boil and cook until the apples have turned into a thick sauce.
Preheat oven to 190C.
Spread the applesauce on the blind baked pastry shell. Arrange the apple slices on top of the sauce.
Bake for 30 mins, or until apples have browned and are tender.
Spread an apricot glaze (1/2 cup apricot jam mixed with 2 tbsp sugar heated until just simmering) over the top of the apples.