One of my favourite guest presenters at my former cooking school was French-born cookery writer and television chef, Gabriel Gaté. Not only is Gabriel a magnificent cook, he is also a delightful person.
A native of the picturesque Anjou in the Loire Valley of France, Gabriel and his large family had a small vineyard and an orchard of pear and stone fruit trees. He says he was inspired to become a cook by his maternal grandmother, Pascaline, who was once the personal chef to a local miller.
As a young man, Gabriel learnt to cook with some of the country's finest chefs in Michelin-starred restaurants. He moved to Australia in 1977 with his Melbourne-born wife, Angie, and visits his homeland at least twice a year.
'I have toured and sampled food in every corner of France, from Normandy with its delicate Channel fish and seafood, and fine butter and cream; to Provence in the south, with its Mediterranean vegetables and olive oil; to Bordeaux with its illustrious red wines and renowned lamb; and Alsace with its great charcuterie and white wines,' he writes.
A prolific writer, Gabriel has now authored 23 cookbooks, the latest being Délicieux: the recipes of France, a big, beautiful tome that brings together more than 200 of the recipes he has collected over the years.
'[This book] presents a broad selection of wonderful dishes resulting from my experiences as a chef, cookery teacher and lover of French food and travel. I have written and tested all the recipes and adapted them for the home cook, who can feeling confident in preparing them successfully. Happy cooking and bon appetit,' he says in the introduction.
I have chosen to showcase one of Gabriel's tart recipes from the book, because I can still remember how very good the pastry was on a mango and passionfruit tart he prepared for guests at my cooking school. Around the same time, Gabriel baked the same tart at an event with the cream of the world's food media at Tasting Australia. I can still taste it. It was sublime!
Normandy is famous for its cream, apples and a beautiful apple liqueur called Calvados. Tarte aux pommes flambée au Calvados (pictured top) is from the normandy region. The recipe is by Angie Gaté and is reproduced with permission of the publisher.
APPLE TART FLAMED WITH CALVADOS
8 apples (red delicious, granny smith or another variety of your choice)
2 tablespoons water
250 g (9 oz) puff pastry
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
2 tablespoons pouring cream
2 tablespoons caster (superfine) sugar
3 tablespoons Calvados
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Peel 4 of the apples, then cut them into eighths and remove the cores. Cook with the 2 tablespoons of water in a covered saucepan until tender. Mash the apple to a purée and leave it to cool.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface until it is about 30 cm (12 in) round and about 3 mm (1⁄8 in) thick.
Carefully lift the pastry onto the prepared baking tray. Prick the pastry with a fork to prevent shrinkage. Use the tip of a knife blade to trace a smaller circle on the pastry, leaving a 2.5 cm (1 in) edge. Mix the egg yolk and water together and use to brush the edge.
Spread the apple purée over the pastry, leaving the edge free. Spread the cream over the purée.
Peel, quarter and core the remaining apples and cut each quarter into four wedges. Starting at the outer edge, arrange the apple wedges on top of the purée, forming a spiral towards the centre. Overlap the slices a little and make sure you leave no gaps.
Sprinkle on the sugar and bake for about 20 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) and bake for a further 30 minutes. The tart is cooked when the pastry is golden brown and crisp and the edges of the apples are lightly browned. The pastry base should be dry and lightly browned.
Carefully transfer the tart to a serving platter.
In a small saucepan, bring the Calvados to the boil. Remove the pan from the heat and away from the stove, then carefully flame the Calvados. Carefully pour the flaming liqueur over the tart and serve when the flames have subsided. Serves 8.
This is an edited extract from Délicieux: the recipes of France by Gabriel Gaté published by Hardie Grant Books. You can read a sample from the book here.
Délicieux: the recipes of France by Gabriel Gaté, $49.99, Hardie Grant Books. I would like to sincerely thank the publicity team at Hardie Grant, as well as Gabriel Gaté, for giving me the opportunity to showcase and review this title.
It's your turn, dear readers. Have you ever been to France? Are you a fan of Gabriel's work? Which of his cookbooks grace your shelves? And do you love baking with apples, as I do?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.