Right now, instead of using my cookbooks as culinary guides they serve a more ‘practical’ use in my house – a side table. I have a whole bunch of them all neatly stacked up by my dining table because I needed somewhere to place my phone. Yes, I’m old fashioned I have a land line (go laugh somewhere else). Last week I was mentally chiding myself about buying some more furniture, especially a bookcase, when I got distracted and decided to browse through a couple of cookbooks instead. Typical, huh?
On top was Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, a gift from my sister that I absolutely adore because of the simple approach to vegetarian cooking. Yet, I’ve made just one recipe from it. I have little bookmarks for all the recipes I want to try, but obviously cooking for one has made me lazy and I haven’t bothered to even give it a try. Out of sheer boredom of eating the same meals I decided I needed to make something that would have me excited about eating. I had my eye on this beautiful Surprise Tatin (the image stole my heart), so I pulled out the bookmark and gave it a shot.
I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned this before, but I love potatoes. Sweet, new, russet, baking – you name the variety and I love it! It is a basic staple in my kitchen and has always been a beloved food of mine, just ask my mother who sustained me on a diet of potatoes and dill with garlic and chilli during my exams in university. And pastry, I love a good buttery pastry. So anything made with pastry – sweet or savoury – is always a winner for me. This recipe was a win-win even before I started putting it together. I could taste it in my head.
To be honest, it is a little more fussy because the tomatoes have to be roasted first, then the potatoes have to be cooked, caramel made and then layered all together. However, the end product is beautifully rustic and so worth the effort. I was extremely nervous about flipping the tart over because I was afraid it would just start to disintegrate, but it held together beautifully and makes for a lovely presentation. To spread the guilt, I shared it with two of my colleagues at work for lunch the next day and got the thumbs up.
This is a great recipe for a brunch or when having a vegetarian friend over. The next time I make it, I’m going to add some garlic and double the amount of caramelized onions. And maybe some bacon, bacon is always extra flavour.
Sean Factor: You probably guessed Sean and I shared a love for many of the same foods. Potatoes were no surprise. Whenever I made a meat/ chicken curry or a biryani, I always had a request from Sean to double the amount of potatoes for a a very simple reason – so we wouldn’t fight over them. He would have put away half of this tart without any hesitation. This one’s for you Angel.