It is that time of year, when the thought of anything on a stick under the scorching hot sun at the state fair makes mid-westerners salivate. The Minnesota State Fair is the 3rd largest in the US, and the first state fair I have attended. My first visit was 7 or 8 years ago. My previous experience to these had only been the small county fair in my hometown. This was insane, the MN fair averages around 100,000 – 200,000 a day and over a million over the 12 day period it is open. This year with so much of my focus on food and cooking, I was very determined to go this year. Not only because it has been 2 years since our last visit, but because I wanted to try some of the new and old favorites.
Fall is approaching, and I am craving that cool crisp weather and the colors. I love Minnesota in the fall, and at the right time of day as the leaves are falling you can drive or walk down my street in uptown with all the houses, trees, and cars and it’s like a scene from a picture. Makes me love Minnesota every time, and so glad I moved here. In hopes and anticipation of fall, I made a small tarte tatin and served it with vanilla bean ice cream.
The concept of this tarte is very, very simple. It’s sugar, apples, and pie dough or puff pastry. Delicious and simple, and it’s easy to scale down or up depending on pan size. I used a 6″ frying pan that is rated for up to 500°F for oven use, two apples, and a half sheet of puffy pastry. Adding more flavor dimensions by adding a bit of lemon juice and zest and of vanilla and cinnamon. It is as I like, a quick, tasty dessert that includes little ingredients, but tastes like it took hours. The nice thing with this tarte is that you can make it ahead and let it cool, the flavors will meld together and be amazing, then reheat for 5 minutes before turning out onto a plate to serve. As with any apple dessert, vanilla bean ice cream is the ideal accompaniment.
Both of us were having a massive chocolate craving, so I glanced around in my fridge and freezer to see what I had. I peaked my head out of the kitchen and shouted “mystery box challenge!” Yeah, that was a Masterchef Australia reference. I’m a big dork, but at least I acknowledge it and don’t even try to hide it, it’s what makes me awesome! This was just one of those dishes that I was in almost shock of when it was completed. Mostly because it really tasted just that amazing. It took longer for me to figure out what to do almost giving up before I knew exactly what to make.
As some may or may not know I have a addiction like many others to Masterchef Australia. Which is weird because I am from the US. Skipping over that technicality, let me tell you about the show. Love, Love, Love it, a little bit of drama, lots of cooking and tons to learn, but what makes me love the show is the camaraderie. No one is back-stabing another contestant, and when one leaves due to elimination, they are all generally upset and not cheering “that bitch is gone” unlike most if not all american reality shows.