Personal chef Steve James makes the most of autumn apples with his warming twist on a dinner party classic
One good thing about all the strong winds we’ve been having are the windfall apples. Of course, autumn’s apples are always welcome whether their arrival is wind assisted or it’s left to plain old gravity to pluck them from the tree. If you are eyeing the seasonal bounty in your fruit bowl, this recipe from personal chef Steve James has to be one of the most delicious ways to make the most of them.
Steve trained with local legend Lesley Waters at her acclaimed cookery school, so it’s no surprise he prizes local, seasonal ingredients. As part of his personal chef and catering service, he can come to your event or your home to cook traditional food with a modern twist using the best local ingredients.
Steve’s take on the French classic adds some warming spices and an intriguing ice cream flavour. They work brilliantly together and would have any dinner party guests making appreciative sounds.
- 100ml water
- 150g golden caster sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods, bruised
- 1 star anise
- 4-5 pink lady apples (or whatever variety you have available)
- 40g unsalted butter, cubed
- 300g shop-bought, all-butter puff pastry
Vanilla and Rosemary Ice cream
- 2 vanilla pods, split lengthways
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- 525ml of milk
- 225ml of cream
- 10 egg yolks
- 225g of caster sugar
- Serves 8-10
For the vanilla and rosemary ice cream
Place the milk, cream, split vanilla pods and rosemary in a large pan. Bring slowly to the boil making sure to stir regularly.
Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and caster sugar in a bowl and whisk well until lightly golden. When the cream mixture has come up to the boil, remove the rosemary sprigs and immediately pour over the egg yolks and sugar mixture slowly and whisk together as your pouring. Strain the custard back into the pan and slowly heat until the custard thickens. Be careful not to heat the mixture too quickly or too much as this will cause the custard to split
Strain again and pour into a bowl, allow to cool completely before churning in an ice cream maker until it reaches a soft, ice cream consistency. If you do not have an ice cream maker place in a container in the freezer stirring regularly until frozen.
For the Tarte Tatin
Preheat the oven to 200°C fan
Start by making a spiced caramel. Put the water, sugar, cinnamon, cardamom pods and star anise into a 24cm/9in ovenproof frying pan. Place over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves, then set over a high heat and allow to boil away until dark golden making sure not stir this or it will crystallise.
While making the caramel, peel the apples and cut in half lengthwise and remove the cores. Once the caramel is dark golden, add the butter cubes, but still don’t stir, and remove the pan from the heat. Remove the spices from the caramel then place the apples on the caramel rounded side down
Roll the pastry to about 3-4mm thick, and cut out a circle about 2.5cm bigger in diameter than the frying pan. Place the pastry on top of the apples and tuck it down the sides using a wooden spoon. Stab a few holes with a sharp knife, then place the frying pan in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is a glorious golden brown and has puffed up.
Remove the frying pan from the oven. Take a plate or board that is larger than the pan, and place it top-side down on the pan. Hold the base of the plate with one hand, and with the other flip the pan over so that the tart is pastry-side down on the plate. Decorate with the spices