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« Born-Again Vegetable Boiling | Main | Cold Comfort »

An Inspiring Book

I have a really fantastic new book to tell you about today. In fact, it's one of the most beautiful books I've seen in a long time. Just look at it. Don't you just want to grab a mug of something hot and curl up with it on the sofa?

Chances are you've heard about this book already, particularly if you're a dedicated reader of food blogs. That's because the author is one of our own—the incredibly talented Béatrice Peltre, better known as La Tartine Gourmande.

But Béa hardly needs any introduction from me. In the years she's been blogging, her site has become one of the best-known (and loved) out there, receiving numerous awards and helping launch her career as both a food writer and photographer.

One look at her site and it's not hard to understand why. Her food is elegant and imaginative, and her big, luminous photos tease out the beauty in everything they capture. And then there's Béa herself, one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I know, not to mention one of the most energetic and endlessly creative.

Her brand-new book, La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life, captures everything I love about Béa and her site. It's unbelievably beautiful, chock-full of her gorgeous photography that makes you want to just lift a spoon off the page and dig in. Her writing revolves around her life in Boston, her family and her travels, but my favorite parts are those about her childhood in rural France, where between kitchen, orchard and garden she learned to value natural, seasonal food. This affinity shines through in her recipes, which effortlessly strike a balance between simple and sophisticated. A lot of her dishes have French pedigrees (including her namesake tartines) but they always carry her unmistakeable touch: an unexpected vegetable, a surprising spice, a more wholesome grain. Fruits and vegetables are given center stage, but it only dawns on you later that the book is nearly vegetarian—not to mention gluten-free, utilizing things like millet, quinoa and amaranth to build tender tart crusts and delicate cakes.

I asked Béa to select a recipe from the book for me to share with you here. The one she chose, I think, sums up the feel of her book perfectly. In it, she's taken something familiar and even a little mundane—baked apples, in this case—and lifted them almost beyond recognition with an exotic nut-and-fruit filling and a fragrant syrup perfumed with vanilla, olive oil and spices. Imagine your favorite comfort food took a trip someplace exotic and came back just that little bit more worldly and sophisticated—that's how these apples taste. She suggests serving them with yogurt as a light dessert; my advice is to double the recipe and have some for breakfast too.

But wait, that's not all! Béa's publisher has also very kindly offered me an extra copy of her book to give away. Just leave a comment (including your email address, so I can contact you) anytime between now and next Wednesday (March 7th) at 9pm CET, and I'll enter you in the drawing. And before you ask—yes, it can be shipped anywhere in the world!

Update 3/8: What a response, thank you all for your comments! I'm sure Béa is tickled pink. As you can see, thanks to a number randomizer we have a winner: comment #20, which if my math skills don't fail me is Marion of Ferdakost. Congratulations, Marion! I'll be in touch to get your mailing address.



All photos © Béatrice Peltre

Baked Apples with Spices, Olive Oil and Nuts

Béa wrote me this about the recipe: "I grew up in rural France with apple picking as one of my favorite autumn food traditions. At home, from my grandparents, aunts and uncles, to my parents and brother, everyone had at least one apple tree in their back garden. Every year, when September came and the fruit was ripe, we'd fill buckets with apples to make apple tarts and compotes (apples stewed). Apple naturally became a favorite fruit of mine, and so were baked apples.

I particularly like to prepare baked apples because this type of preparation allows for the fruit to really stands out. My recipe uses a lot of my favorite flavors—lemon, apple juice, vanilla, pistachios, and almonds—and is enhanced with the subtle aroma of olive oil. It's simple and completely irresistible eaten warm with plain yogurt on the side."

Serves: 4
Source: La Tartine Gourmande: Recipes for an Inspired Life by Béatrice Peltre

4 tablespoons dried cranberries, finely chopped
4 tablespoons shelled unsalted pistachios, finely chopped
4 tablespoons slivered almonds, finely chopped
1 cup (250ml) fresh apple juice
Finely-grated zest and juice of one organic lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
4 crisp, flavorful apples, e.g. Reinette, Pink Lady, Cortland, Winesap or Liberty
4 cinnamon sticks
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons turbinado (raw) sugar

In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, pistachios and almonds; set aside.

In a pot, combine the apple juice, lemon zest, vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat. Cover and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F(175C).

Core the apples, then slice the top off each one (set these aside) and drizzle with lemon juice. Place the apples in a baking dish and divide the stuffing mix among them. Place a cinnamon stick in each apple and cover them with their tops. Pour the infused juice and the oil over the apples and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the apples in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until the flesh is tender, regularly drizzling with the cooking juices. Remove from the oven and serve warm with the juices and plain yogurt on the side.

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Reader Comments (110)

Really enjoy both La Tartine Gourmand and the Traveler's Lunchbox, already looking forward to the next post popping up in my RSS feed

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDave

Indeed a beautiful book. I never comment, but this time I'll try my luck!
Greetings from Brazil =)

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

I would love a copy of the book!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLily

What an exciting opportunity...thanks for sharing!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatrina

Wow! What a beautiful book. I have to say I've not come across her blog before but I will be a regular reader now for sure...

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnj Medhurst

Beatrice's photos are what I aspire towards someday. This cookbook is on my wishlist partially for the recipes, but more than anything to be inspired by some beautiful, yet at the same time accessible food photography.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

I love her blog and her book is in my desires since she has published it. Your personal description about 'her' is correct and in such a way we share the same thoughts, I like when she talks about her daughter and of course pictures are just fantastic.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiziana

love the site! I'd be excited to see her work in print form.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMatthew

I love Bea's site! And I'd adore a copy of her book :))

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDara

I love baked apples and I am super excited to see this recipe with new flavor ideas. I would love a copy of the book!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

I love the way you food bloggers all talk each other up on your blogs. As a reader, it's taken me no time at all to amass a whole pantheon of new kitchen heroes. It looks like Béatrice Peltre is going to be next on the list!


February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKalea

I love baked apples - I wonder how these would work with rosewater instead of cinnamon to play off of the pistachios....

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteranna ruby

I would love the opportunity to win this book! Thank you!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictoria

I would LOVE to win this book! Béa is sooo talented!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarole

Can you believe I posted exactly the same thing this morning? this is telepathy! I just loved this recipe!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValeria

Lovely! Have been reading Bea's blog for a long time now.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterevolvingtastes

Hi! I've always been your reader. Congratulations for your blog. I'd love to have that book. Best, Leandro.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeandro

I love La Tartine Gourmande and baked apples! Can't wait to try this recipe!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

I love the subtle way she tweaks this comfort food. The photos look luminously beautiful too! It looks like a treasure of a book.

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLara

I love both La Tartine Gourmande and The Traveler's Lunchbox :) Will definitely try this recipe. When will you publish a book of your own? ;-)

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarion

You have no idea how happy it makes me that Be a suggested the baked apples for you to share. I've been staring at the pictures for exactly this recipe whenever someone posted something about the book, telling myself that I should definitely get the cookbook (but never really getting around to ordering it).

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatharina

I adore the photography and recipes on La Tartine Gourmand. I'd love a copy of this cookbook!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

oh my god this looks delicious ;-; i don't normally eat apples but this looks amazing. especially sold on the olive oil and vanilla combination. trying my luck this time! :)

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterF.

what a great writeup! please enter me in the drawing.
[spelyea at gmail dot com]
i have been teaching myself to cook/bake gluten free since my mom's celiac diagnosis, and am fascinated by all that i'm learning. i think i'll be getting this book even if i don't score a win!

glad you are back blogging!

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersara belyea

Love the photos, can't wait to try this recipe out~! Please enter me for the draw! : )

February 29, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJaeCLee

I love baked apples, usually we have them around Christmas, with marzipan, dried fruits and nuts. This recipe is a new interesting approach. Love the photographs!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSabine

What a lovely book and fantastic recipe. Can't wait to try it out!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnh

This looks just lovely! I'll take one, please! :-)

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacy G.

Oh how wonderful! Such stunning photo's! I'd just sat down with a mug of coffee thinking that something was missing.. and now I know what! I could definately while away an afternoon gathering inspiration whilst some apples baked! Thankyou! and thankyou Beatrice ♥

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHannah-lyz

Beautiful photos and interesting looking book. I can't wait to try this recipe!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJami

Would LOVE to win this book. The recipes and photography are simply stunning!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersharon

oh I love Bea's work and if I don't win this book I'll be buying it anyways - love to win though as I'm saving up for a wedding... or maybe I could pop it onto the gift registry - lol!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjas

The pictures look so delectable!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBoston Bakery Babe

I have been reading Bea's site for quite a while and I agree with everything you say. I would love a copy of her new book. Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIsabelle

This book is absolutely beautiful!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterStacy

I have just recently come across your blog last week. I'm a highschooler in Wisconsin and l was looking for a blogger that i could follow who was truely a food lover. You were perfect. From what i have read so far it's all amazing! Im still working on catching up to read all past blogs and excited for new ones!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSadie

Gorgeous book. I had to hold myself back from impulse buying another beautiful book at Indigo today.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDreambamboo

gorgeous book!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbruin

Fantastic photos & recipe, I'd love to get a copy of that book! :)) Especially if it's worldwide....I live in New Zealand, hehe.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterValerie

I am so in love with her site... and that book, of course it's on my list!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterclémence

What a lovely book. Thank you for sharing this recipe....love your blog.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersylvia

What gorgeous photos, and those baked apples look delish!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa

I would love a copy! Been drooling over her photos and food for a long time :)

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynn

Wow, what a generous offer from you both. I would love to own a copy of Béa's new book. Her food AND her photography are sublime.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

Mmm, baked apples would hit the spot on this foggy day in the UK...would love to see the rest of the book!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZoe

The apples look and sound scrumptious. I can't wait to give them a try.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJuice

I've been teased by mentions of this cookbook on so many blogs, now I get the chance to win one! That's amazing; thanks so much for that and the apple recipe.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

So glad you're blogging again! Thanks for sharing the opportunity to win such a terrific book. The apples look amazing.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

Thanks for this oportunity to get hold of a beautiful book, do you have plans for a book? I've made several of your recipes and all of them are fantastic!!!!
Best regards from sunny México.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaudia

Indeed very inspiring! I love (LOVE) Béa's approach to food. Can't wait to cook from this gorgeous book. And have one of those apples. :)

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzana

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