By Steph Farrar
It's November, and I'm talking about tomatoes. Probably because they're still damn good here in California. Maybe even more because I can't officially let go of summer without posting this delicious recipe. Daylight savings ends tomorrow, meaning less daylight (obviously) and (sadly) citrus. Fortunately the change of season is coupled with more knee-high boots and leggings, cozy sweaters and scarves.
It's strange how effortless time is passing lately. Even though I'm sad to see it pass, I'm also on the heels of a very stressful time in my life: Sam was gone on tour for months and is finally back; I've packed and moved from our home of ten years, while living with in-laws and commuting an hour each way to the city for school and work; I've finished a pitch package for an exciting new project while third trimester pregnant, chasing around a four-year-old; And, finally I've landed in November, where all the haze is defrosting from my strained eyes. November is my favorite month. My birthday month. Home.
We've had a strange sense of home the last two months, one that is slightly reminiscent of touring over 6 years ago… living out of a suitcase. Although I'm not sharing a janky hotel room with three other guys in a band, It's still difficult living unsettled.
Vesper helped me with a crust that sits right on top of the tomato mixture here… rolling it out beautifully on her grandmother's kitchen island like a baker. My trusty Kitchenaid mixer is in storage so I decided to brave hand-kneeding the dough. It was a cinch. The rye crustrecipe was a first for me and I don't regret it. This lovely tarte tatin is the last thing I'll be making in Pearly's kitchen while we've lived here in Malibu. Wanna know why??
It's official… we found a new house!!!! I can't wait to cook, photograph and eat in our new bright kitchen. I can't wait to hang with our friends who live in the area. I can't wait for you to come over, and join us for a drink (even though I can't really drink, but soon enough). For now, I'll have a Dill Cucumber Spritzer, you have a Moscow Mule.
So as we say goodbye to summer, even though it's been officially over for almost two weeks, whip up any remaining tomatoes for this treat either as a hefty side dish or light main dish. I added basil and ricotta, and mixed in a little lemon and balsamic vinegar for more flavor, but you could add more onion and garlic, different herbs, another kind of cheese… even sautéed vegetables if you like.
My favorite food blog, as it may be for many of you, is 101 cookbooks. I'm inspired not only by her photographs but by her vegetarian recipes, warm tone and curated sense of style and taste. I've bought several staples from her pop-up shop Quitokeeto, attempted to copy nearly all her recipes over the years, and simply indulged in a love affair with all things 101. This tarte tatin and accompanying rye crust are some of my favorites from her recipe box. If you have a well-used cast iron skillet, use it instead of a casserole deep dish or non-stick skillet.
Make sure you let it cool so when you cut it, so it somewhat stays in tact. Enjoy!
Tomato Tarte Tatin with Rye Crust
adapted directly from 101 cookbooks
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or clarified butter
1 1/2 pounds / 24 oz small tomatoes (here it's a mix of heirloom, cherry & early girls)
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp flour (or more for watery tomatoes)
zest of one lemon
1 pie crust, this rye crust, Heidi recommends
1 egg whisked with a tablespoon of water
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Heat a large skillet over medium heat to saute the onions and a couple pinches of salt in the oil/clarified butter. Cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are caramelized, 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat.
While the onions are cooking, cut any larger tomatoes in half. Leave the small cherry tomatoes whole. Add to the caramelized onions along with the sea salt and balsamic vinegar. Transfer to a 10 or 11-inch cast iron skillet or equivalent deep pie dish. If you get the sense that your tomatoes are quite juicy, and might release a lot of liquid, you can toss the mixture with a tablespoon or two of flour at this point. Sprinkle mixture with lemon zest.
Roll out your pie dough, and use it to cover the tomato mixture - tucking in the sides a bit. Brush the crust with the egg wash, cut a few decorative slits in the crust, and bake in the top third of the oven until the crust is deeply golden and the tomatoes are bubbling a bit at the sides, 25 - 35 minutes.