Filed under: challenge, recipe | Tags: america's test kitchen, cookbooks, julia child, recipe failure, tarte tatin, tomatoes
There was the “hey, let’s put frozen bell peppers in a smoothie because it’s healthy,” moment; the, “I don’t have any chicken stock, so I’ll just make this soup with spoiled red wine,” decision; and what can only be referred to as the rice disaster.
But sometimes the problem stems not from my bad judgment, but a cookbook that’s more food photography than solid recipes. Often, I feel worse for getting suckered in to a beautiful image than rinsing dropped rice and serving it anyway (not really).
And so, the story of tomato tarte tatin. It sounded so good. Tarte tatin! Cherry tomatoes! Homegrown basil! I was ecstatic. The picture was so beautiful, it seemed so easy. How could pre-made puff pastry and local tomatoes ready in 20 minutes go wrong?
Oil, sugar, breadcrumbs, tomatoes and puff pastry – all in a frying pan in the oven. No pre-cooking of the crust, just loosely cobbled together and thrown into a medium oven.
Flipping the final product there were juices everywhere. The carefully placed tomatoes all crushed together on one side. A seriously soggy crust.
I gently placed the tomatoes back in their rightful spots and took a photo hoping that the taste would compensate for the disaster that was the appearance. But no. It was just weird. Oddly sweet, oily, droopy, pathetic.
Then I remembered. I had retired this cookbook months earlier for this exact reason. Perfect pictures dissolving into a truly bizarre result.
And so, with my head hung low I bow once again to my favorites: Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, America’s Test Kitchen. I will never cheat again, I tell my dog-earred and smudged copies. But I will. That’s how cookbook love works.
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