Different from my two musketeer peers from Ferrandi Diane and Cathleen, my cooking style and therfore menu direction for my future restaurant will not be la haute gastronomie. I am rather in search of finetuning the taste and presentation of French bistrot classics, combined with mediterranean influences, mainly Provencal and Italian, to bring the sunshine into my plates. My restaurant should simply offer a cuisine that will correspond to what I would cook for my friends and for myself.
A couple of weeks ago I found another Provence cookbook to add to my collection of about 15 or so I own already about that regional cuisine. But... it is not just another cookbook. The recipes are rather simple but add some twist to the known traditional recipes, and the photos make you want to cook and taste right away. The author is an English Chef who used to run a cooking school in Provence for a couple of years. Ultimately that would be my dream as well. Get a small bistrot successful, and after it is running smooth add cooking classes, and eventually some chambres d'hotes.
The first recipe I tried from the book was a different type of apple tart. I was motivated by the photography, I guess because I like very regular patterns as part of pastry decoration. Granny Smith apples (that add some acidity to compensate the sweentness of the caramel), are sliced very thin (my specialty) and arranged in a very regular pattern (my other specialty) on a disk of puff pastry, which I don't make anymore myself, since I discovered in the restaurant the quality and convenience of frozen puff pastry. Spread butter and sugar on the apples and bake in the oven, pressed between two baking trays for about 20 minutes, to prevent the puff pastry from rising, like the Millefeuille technique.
Recommendation : Keep watching what's going on in your oven, to prevent setting your kitchen on fire like I almost did. If the butter and the sugar leave the tray and drop on the oven bottom, a big smoke cloud will soon come out of your oven, then kitchen, etc...) After the firemen have left, take the top tray off, spread more sugar and continue to bake 15 minutes, to caramelize again.
The result is a super thin, caramel-crispy and juicy at the same time and intensely flavored apple tart. Such a simple recipe with a great impact! Exactly what I am searching for.
In a couple of months/years to taste in my bistrot... Or if you need it before, get :
Cooking in Provence
by Alex Mackay with Peter Knab