Red Apples & Golden Sunflowers

Let’s get some thing straight here – I am not an apple person.  I grew up in south Florida where apples were imported from those far away cold states.  They were always mushy, sandy, over ripe, and over waxed. I have to admit, they are a pretty fruit and come in so many shades and shapes, but when given the option between an apple or, let’s say, a mango, guava, raspberry, banana, orange, grapefruit, cherimoya, strawberry, blueberry…apple will always lose – always.  I just can’t get excited about them.

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Here in Germany, apples are THE local fruit – everybody loves them, and no one seems to understand how they cannot be loved.  It seems to be a pretty important fruit around here.  So, when October rolls around, Fürth holds it’s yearly Apfelmarkt (Apple Market) – and it’s packed – shoulder to shoulder.  Everybody comes to see, taste, and smell the latest harvest.  Visitors chat up the local farmers about this years crop, and taste to compare flavors.

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The smell of warm waffles sits heavy in the air, and swarms of lady bugs glide through the air savoring the last warm rays of the early Fall sun.I trek out every few years to enjoy the bounty of colors.  And, because, well, my kids love apples…I guess that’s what happens when you grow up here.

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The white blossom covered trees have all basked in the summer sun and dropped their fruit to the earth.  The leaves are starting to turn – Fall is just a few weeks away – and we are left with an amazing colorful bounty of apples, plums, nuts, honey, and late summer flowers.

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Simple Tomato Pastries

I rarely watch tv…I mean really rarely.  Every once in a while I enjoy watching a documentary, and recently discovered Chef’s Table.  I love watching the well thought out moves of the kitchen staff, and find the presentation of the different style fascinating: the delicate moves, the precision of every wielded knife, the vibrant colors of fresh ingredients…I love it.  I have worked in a few kitchens in my life…but none as nice and the ones in the show.
So, when I watched Alain Passard from L’Arpège (in Paris) roll out a homemade sheet of puff pastry, lightly brush it in butter, and cover it in a colorful mixture of thick-sliced heirloom tomatoes – my mouth began to water.  He has such an amazing garden that produces fresh fruits and vegetables for his kitchen – a dream.  One day I will get around to making my own puff pastry…it’s been on my bucket list for years, but will have to stay there a little longer.  Luckily, my local grocery store sells vegan puff pastry, so I picked up some San Marzano tomatoes from my local farmer’s market and got right to it.
This is a really simple recipe, and my kids love eating these delicious crunchy pillows.  The lightly caramelized tomato gives this savory snack a silky sweetness.
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Simple Tomato Pastries

Serves 4 (Snack) – 12 (Amuse bouche) / Prep Time 5 min / Total Time 25 min
Ingredients:
1 sheet vegan Puff Pastry, cut into 12 rectangles
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1/8 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/8 teaspoon Onion Powder
1/4 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
6 San Marzano Tomatoes (can substitute with Roma), halved
1 pinch of Sugar
1 pinch of table Salt
1 hand full fresh Basil, chopped
Directions:
Preheat oven to 200°C.
Remove the wire rack from your oven and line it with parchment paper.  Place the rectangles of puff pastry on the parchment paper, making sure that they are not touching each other.
In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, and fleur de sel.  Brush each piece of pastry with the mixture, and place a tomato half on each piece of pastry – cut-side up.  Larger tomato halves can be cut again in half to help them bake more evenly.
Brush the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil on the
tomatoes, and sprinkle each tomato with a small amount of sugar and salt.
Place the wire rack on the very bottom of your oven and bake for 10 minutes.  The, set the wire rack in the center of the oven and continue to bake for another 10 minutes.  Baking the pastries at the bottom of the oven allows the bottom of the pastry to become really crunchy.  If we had a pizza oven, we could skip this step.  Take care not to leave the pastries in for too long as the puff pastry goes from golden-baked to charcoal-black rather quickly.
Once done, remove immediately from oven and allow to cool slightly before sprinkling with fresh basil.
The pastries can be stored for 2 days at (cool) room temperature and still taste great.  These guys always taste great…breakfast..lunch…dinner…or in between meals.