From Too Many Chefs -

October 28, 2007
Reduce, Recycle, Reuse...

applepie.jpgReduce. My lovely tarte tatin, which was so going to impress our French dinner guest, was reduced to a cinder. I'd popped it in the oven as we sat down to eat and what with the lively conversation and the wine (with a backdrop of hyperactive toddler) I completely forgot to go back and check it 15 minutes later. Because I'd shut the kitchen door, the acrid smell of burnt sugar didn't reach me until it was too late, far too late. There was a time when I would have been devastated by such a disaster. But I'm 40 now and can roll with the punches. I announced cheerfully to the dinner guests, "Dessert's burned - I hope you don't mind filling up on salad and cheese!"

Recycle. A small bit of the pastry I'd made for the tarte tatin, slightly larger than a hen's egg, remained in the fridge. I rolled it out as thinly as I could.

Reuse. I carefully lifted the thin crust onto a small earthenware dish I found in the back of the cupboard. Amazingly, this lovely little dish came with a frozen dinner I bought some months ago. I was trying to get the toddler to branch out a bit culinarily and so bought a frozen gratin de choux fleurs (cauliflower gratin). He turned up his nose but I thought it was tasty. And I loved the dish. So much so that I bought another so I would have a set of two. (Must remember to stock up on frozen dinners...)

I peeled, quartered and chopped a couple of apples and tossed them with two small spoonfuls of flour and two small spoonfuls of sugar. Then I added a small handful of dried currents (no raisins to hand, alas) and a few dried blueberries. As you can see, there wasn't quite enough dough to cover the little makeshift tart. But there was enough tart for two for a little after-dinner treat. I don't often make dessert (well, you can see why, what with the burnt disaster that started this story). So the Critic and I enjoyed it all the more for the fact that it was a rare treat. And particularly good with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum.

Posted by Meg in Sussex at October 28, 2007 3:33 AM

What kind of frozen dinner comes in a pretty little dish like this? I'm guessing they aren't the Libbyland dinners from my childhood? Please share what exotic goodies you have available in your area.

Posted by Mary Austin on October 28, 2007 at 3:55 PM

I bought them at our local Monoprix. I have no idea why they come in the nice dishes, as it wasn't more expensive than the ones in plastic trays - go figure! But there was no way I was going to throw them away!

Actually, I also inherited a similar baking dish when the law firm I worked for had a dinner catered by Lenotre. The hot dishes all came in proper oven-safe porcelain dishes and when we asked about returning them, the company said "don't bother"! I felt guilty being the only person in the office to profit from it, and so passed the dish along to a new mother in Paris (along with a casserole in it). It saved her the trouble of getting the dish back to me and made me feel virtuous!

I don't know what it is about this country and cheap porcelain!

Posted by Meg in Paris on October 28, 2007 at 5:07 PM