One of the things I've really enjoyed having time to do during my sojourn here in France is cook. That's not to say I didn't cook before. I did. I'm a big fan of dinner parties, a firm believer in family dinners, and never cared much for take out. But there's a big difference between putting dinner on the table every night and having the time to test and enjoy new recipes and cuisines. Fortunately, I've got a couple of friends here who are on the same wavelength and we've tried to cook lunch together about once a month.
Yesterday, inspired by the movie Julie and Julia, we put together a meal à la Julia Child -- the beef bourguignon that figures so prominently in the movie, a bonne salade verte with beets and a delicious dressing, and tarte tatin. I was in charge of the tarte tatin, not completely satisfied with the one I'd made for this same group about a year ago. Back then, I used the apples recommended by the vendor at the open air market, les reines de reinettes, which were flavorful but turned to mush. I learned another rendition from the ladies from whom I took an informal cooking course; they recommended using Golden Delicious (in French, "les Golden") which I found too sweet plus the technique for making the caramel finicky.
And today, well as they say, the third's time the charm. I used the recipe from Julia Child's 1994 book, The Way to Cook (which you can find on-line here) and it was a doozy. The apples? Boskoop. The caramel? Sinful. The maneuver to flip the red hot cast iron skillet? A success thanks to a second pair of hands. This one's a keeper.