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Kale Jungle Nightmares and Tarte Tatin Dreams

November 6, 2011

Bonjour, tout le monde! Welcome to French Cooking That Will Make You Feel Chic and Important. Have you ever wanted to win friends and influence people with an apple tarte tatin? But of course you have. The apple tarte tatin is elegant and timeless. It oozes caramelized confidence. It says to your guests, “I’m fierce, I’m fabulous, and I can arrange apple slices in concentric circles.”

I have been pining for a tarte tatin since fall’s first chill nipped the air inside this poorly insulated excuse for a kitchen. Unfortunately, just as said chill was nipping at said kitchen, The Girl began le green smoothie kick. I believe it is in anticipation of an upcoming wedding, at which she must appear as if she does not subsist on frozen pizza. She believes les smoothies will trim her waist and brighten her skin. But alas, mes amis. They do not appear to be working. Perhaps daily Cheeto consumption lessens their efficacy? They clearly have done nothing for her hand-eye coordination. Here is the green smoothie she made this morning:

What’s more: Since le smoothie kick began, the refrigerator has been a frigging kale jungle. So much kale. You need a machete just to find the eggs.

The kale haunts my dreams. I usually sleep peacefully, while visions of the deliciously severe Chris Kimball crusty baguettes dance in my head.

Last night, however, was a different story:

I need that tarte tatin more than ever.

After several expeditions deep into The Heart of Kaleness, I managed to get some apples and a bit of butter. I was lucky, mes amis. The kale jungle is not for softies. You could go in with heavy cream and come out with half and half. You just never know.

Unfortunately, an ovenproof skillet is nowhere to be found. I should have known that The Girl would not have one. Before the kale forest, I might have asked the heavens how I am supposed to work under these conditions. But now, I am a stronger whisk. A more resourceful whisk. A whisk who found a recipe for Upside-Down Caramel-Apple Muffins from Melissa Clark of Le New York Times. She promises that when you unmold the muffins, “the fruit transforms into a glistening crown of an irresistible sticky topping.” That sounds quite tatin-like. And a glistening crown sounds terribly chic and important. I know The Girl’s fondness for les corn muffins that come from a box. Surely there is a muffin tin around here somewhere.

Victory! Next, we refrain from devouring the caramelized apples long enough to divide them among the muffin tins. Instead of pastry, we top them with a thick muffin batter. The muffins bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, and then cool slightly in the pan.

And now: We must find the courage to flip the pan. In fact, since we have 12 muffins, we will need 12 times the courage that a tarte tatin would require. I agree with La Dorie Greenspan: Even a hardened explorer of the kale jungle gets a flutter in the belly at this moment. Ready? Undeuxtrois



Curse you, kale! Look what you’ve done to my muffins! They taste delicious, of course. But they look … I don’t even know. Like cinnamon rolls that have been through the laundry. Like an apple fritter had a very bad day. Like …

Sacre frigging bleu.

The Girl’s Favorite Green Smoothie

Serves 1.

1/2 cup frozen peach slices (frozen mixed berries also work well)
1 banana
1 handful of kale, stems removed, coarsely chopped or ripped into bits
juice of half a lime
splash of orange juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar
1/2 cup to 1 cup water or coconut water

Whiz all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add the water or coconut water last, and as needed, until you get the texture you want. Pour into a tall glass. Drop glass. Mop floor. Repeat.

Tarte tatin photo by Joy at The Cooking of Joy

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