Glazed, slightly sweet and oozing with flavour, this tarte tartin is what most tomatoes want to be when they grow up.
The tarte tartin, no matter its format, is one of those dishes with a charming but dubious heritage. Rumour has it that Stéphanie Tatin, a proprietor of a provincial French hotel, left apples for a pie cooking on the stove for too long. Alerted to her error by the smell of burning, the quick-thinking Madame attempted to rescue the situation by covering them with pastry and baking the pie anyway. "After turning out the upside down tart," Wikipedia claims, "she was surprised to find how much the hotel guests appreciated the dessert." Party pooper Larousse Gastronomique quells the mystique of this little anecdote with the facts - "the upside-down tart, made with apples or pears, is an ancient specialty of Sologne and is found throughout Orléanais." I’m sticking with the Madame as I feel my cooking often falls into the category of trying to pass off a mistake as something special.
Slow roasting the Roma tomatoes imparts a sweeter, deeper flavour to the tart and is something I strongly recommend doing. I used puff pastry but really the choice is yours. With Julia Child and Larousse leading the short crust party, pitted against the might of Raymond Blanc and wannabes such as myself in the puff camp, it’s an ever-raging battle – so really whatever is on hand will do.
1kg roma tomatoes, halved
3-4 sprigs thyme plus extra to serve
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to season
3 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1 ½ tbsp. brown sugar
Persian fetta to serve
Preheat the oven to 125C.
Toss the tomatoes with the olive oil and thyme in bowl until well coated. Season with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes, cut side up and in 1 layer for 2 hours.
In a small bowl whisk the balsamic vinegar and brown sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the roasted tomatoes and toss gently to coat.
Turn the oven heat up to 190.
Layer the tomatoes cut side up over the base of 1 large fry pan or alternatively 4 individual crepe pans also works well for individual serves. Spoon over the balsamic syrup. Cut the puff pastry slightly larger than the diameter of the base of the fry pan you use. Gently place the pastry over the tomatoes, tucking in the edges around the circumference of the pan. Cook in the oven for 10 -15 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.To serve, gently invert the tarte onto a plate. Add a spoonful of Persian fetta, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle over a few fresh thyme leaves. Serve hot.
And a congrats to Sophie for winning the prize - lucky you. The Chinese Heritage Cookbook surely is brilliant. Sophie please DM me your details to firstname.lastname@example.org