Gutsy Cooks Club - Sunday Dinner

I have such fond memories of Sunday dinners growing up. My Mom is an amazing cook/baker and an inspiration. Granted, I think we compete on who has the most cookbooks BUT I have her beat, hands-down,on printed out recipes organized and put into binders for when I have no idea what to make for dinner, dessert, side dishes, breakfasts, etc. I am dying to go to Arizona just so I can mark up a few of her cookbooks, which Mom would probably not mind as long as we were making food together.

I get to host the Gutsy Cooks Club for the whole month of March and this week's menu (menu 24) was picked with Sundays in mind. The recipes are chosen from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible by Victoria Blashford-Snell. I chose Ficelles (long and skinny baguettes), Irish stew and a French Apple tart.

The Irish stew was modified by adding more herbs (sweet basil, 4 branches of fresh thyme, and a little rosemary) along with using pork tenderloin instead of lamb shoulder (I forgot to buy the lamb). Monica over at Sweetbites created the Gutsy Cooks Club and has the recipes posted for the Irish stew and the Ficelles on her blog. I will post the French Apple Tart recipe below.

I have never made a layered stew before and after making this one, I am excited to try different variations because we really enjoyed how well the stew turned out. The Ficelles fresh out of the oven had a wonderful aroma and were perfect still warm with butter slathered on, served with dinner.
The apple tart recipe was changed to individual miniature tarts and I added about 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon between all 4 tarts. Dorie Greenspan's recipe of sweet pastry dough in her cookbook Baking From My Home to Yours worked perfectly as the base of these cute little tarts.
French Apple Tart
1 refrigerated pie dough round for 9-inch pie
3 T. butter
1 lb 10 oz. McIntosh apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. Calvados or brandy
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
3 T. apricot preserves, warmed and strained.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Fit the pie dough into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom, fitting it tightly into the corners, and trim the excess dough. Prick the dough with a fork. Line with wax paper and fill with baking beans. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until the dough looks set. Remove the paper and beans and bake until lightly browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the McIntosh apples and cover tightly with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, or until broken down into a chunky sauce.
Strain through a coarse sieve into a bowl, then return to the saucepan. Stir in all but 1 Tablespoon of the sugar, the Calvados, and lemon zest. Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes, until quite thick.
Spoon the applesauce into the tart shell. Arrange the Granny Smith slices in concentric circles over the applesauce. Brush with the lemon juice and sprinkle with the reserved sugar.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the apple slices are golden and tender. Brush the top with the warm apricot preserves. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove the sides of the pan. Serve warm or cold. Good with vanilla ice cream or creme fraiche.

The dinner turned out beautifully! Check out the rest of the Gutsy Cooks to see each of the variations!


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