Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Jan 3, 2012

Rustic Apple Tart with Cointreau

Libations used: 2 Tbs Cointreau
Libations left over: make yourself a Children of the Sun cocktail!
The Lush Chef was having a boozy holiday brunch, so of course I had to find a way to sneak libations in just about everything I served.  I still had some apples from an orchard trip that needed to be used up before I went home for the holidays, so this Rustic Apple Tart from The Kitchn looked easy enough.  Guests are always impressed by tarts, so let them keep thinking how accomplished you are.  They look impressive and hard to make, but they're one of the easiest pastries to pull off.  I actually find these free-form tarts are much easier to make than round ones.  You don't need to roll it out into a perfect rectangle, because you can shape it after.  And you can have messy edges because you'll just fold it over and hide it with whatever fruit you put inside!  Make sure you slice those apples thin so they cook through all the way, but don't be meticulous about spreading the almonds on perfectly—you want to preserve that rustic look.  It's then finished off with an apricot glaze that contains orange liqueur (I used Cointreau).  Just make sure to evenly spread that glaze on before you start licking the spoon.

Rustic Apple Tart with Cointreau - serves 6-8
Ingredients for the Tart Pastry:
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 7 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1-3 Tbs ice water
Ingredients for the Filling:
  • 4 small to medium-sized baking apples - I always like to use a combination, so I did Mutsu and Braeburn
  • 2-4 Tbs brown sugar, based on the sweetness of the apples
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/3 cup toasted, sliced almonds
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
Ingredients for the Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 Tbs Cointreau or orange-flavored liqueur

To make the tart pastry:
- In the work bowl of a food processor with a metal blade (you can also do this by hand), combine the flour, sugar and salt.
- Add the butter and process with short pulses until the mixture is coarse.
- With the processor running, add the water through the top, 1 Tbs at a time, until the dough begins to form a ball.  If you end up adding too much water, just add more flour.
- Gather into a neat ball and flatten into a disk.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.
- Roll out the pastry dough to a rough 9"x15" rectangle (remember, it's rustic so it doesn't have to be perfect!).  If the dough splits at all, toss it back in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
- Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Fold over the edges of the dough so that it forms a shallow lip and feel free to create a decorate edge.
- The pastry shell should be about 6"x12"
- Pierce the bottom of the shell with a fork and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To make the filling:
- Preheat your oven to 400.
- Peel, core and thinly slice the apples (should be about 1/8 inch).
- In a medium bowl, gently toss the apples with the brown sugar and almond extract.
- Arrange the slices in 3 lengthwise rows so that they overlap in the tart shell.
- Sprinkle the almonds along the top.
- Top the tart with the tiny pieces of butter.
- Bake the tart for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the apples are tender.

To make the glaze:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the preserves and Cointreau to a boil, stirring often.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens (if there are large chunks of fruit, transfer the glaze to a blender/food processor and blend until smooth).
- Strain the glaze through a fine mesh sieve into a small bowl by pressing the glaze with a large spoon or rubber spatula.  Try and extract as much of that liquid as you can!
- Spread the warm glaze on top of the finished tart.