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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)

This book is absolutely lovely! I must have it!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMalvina Beatrice

Beautiful! And, I was just diagnosed Celiac so will have to check this out!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterA. Oetting

The photographs are gorgeous and I love the baked apple recipe! What incredible talent! Melissa, I enjoy your blog immensely and thank you and Béa for the awesome opportunity to own a copy of this wonderful book!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDebb Rea

This recipe sounds like a perfect way to enjoy the beautiful Pacific Rose apples I discovered at our local market today! And I'd love a copy of the book! Thanks for sharing!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMari Whitney

I love your blog and now will have a new one to read! The book looks fantastic and of course I would love an opportunity to win it! Thanks for all the amazing info

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMelodye Allen

I love the simplicity and homey warmth of baked apples, and I can't wait to try these. I would love a copy of the book too!

Oh this really looks fantastic! I would love to have a copy!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenni

What another wonderful commentary on one of my favourite blogs.

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHeike

This looks fantastic - I'd love to win a copy of the book!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSpracci

I've heard great things about this book and love her photos and prose--but have never made anything from her blog! I'd love a copy!!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

The book looks beautiful - what a way to travel and experience new foods from home!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Clancy

It looks like a beautiful book. I would love to win a copy!

March 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim

The book sounds wonderful! – whoever wins it will be super lucky (and, of course, I'd love for the lucky one to be me!).

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVasudha

Absolutely beautiful cookbook and the apple recipe will be tried out this coming weekend. Can't wait.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana P.

I have had to change my eating habits due to cancer, so I tried Baked Apples with Spices, Olive Oil and Nuts and I really loved it, it tasted so fresh and full of flavor. Food this good will really help inspire me to make better & healthy food choices. THANK YOU for sharing.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary

I love La Tartine Gourmande! Such beautiful and simple food.
I would love a copy of this book - my email is dana@industelect.com.au

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDana

Hi Melissa,

I've commented here a few times but have been wanting to let you know exactly how much I appreciate your blog and this looks like a good opportunity to do so.

I first came across your blog when I was searching for the perfect recipe for pecan pie. Nothing I found seemed right until, by searching through TasteSpotting, I came across two promising options. One was your recipe and the other was a link to your recipe. I loved it! And I loved what you wrote about it! (The recipe I use now is yours with the addition of a little cream stirred through the mixture).

A couple of weeks after I found your pecan pie, my parter and I were house sitting for a food writer. We spent the entire time we were at her house reading our way through her amazing cookbook collection. Three of her books stood out to me and have become some of my favourites. Two of them were Cradle of Flavor and The Art of the Tart (the other was one of Greg & Lucy Malouf's books). I was, therefore, very impressed when I was reading through your archives to find that you loved them too! I usually have very little respect for single-subject cookbooks but The Art of the Tart is a very amazing exception, so I was extra happy to see that you agreed with me on that point.

Since then, I have been a devout reader of yours and will continue to be into the future.

Thanks for having such a great blog!

Hi Inca, thank you for your sweet words! You're right about those cookbooks - they are absolute gems. You obviously have excellent taste. :) -m

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterInca

What a gorgeous book! Would love a copy!!

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commentershilpa

Despite being a healthy food-blogging, cancer health educator I have never much liked baked apples. But honestly, Bea's super recipe may just make me a fan. I have all of the ingredients, so no excuse not to follow my own advice and try this great looking recipe. Even if I don't win the copy on offer (unlikely seeing all the comments so far!) I will be buying it. Thanks for the opportunity.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkellie@foodtoglow

I have a problem with La Tartine Gourmande: the pictures are so gorgeous that I almost never think I can cook from her recipes, I am too distracted by the sheer beauty of her colours. Which is a shame of course, like the few recipes I have tried remind me constantly. I'll make sure I add at least this one to the list.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaffettiera

it looks beautiful!!

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjana

Tantalizing photos, delicious recipes, and great writing: what not to covet? Thanks for alerting me to a lovely cookbook.

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathe

That book looks amazing!

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChocolatesa

I would love to have a copy of this book - the apple recipe looks so good!

Also, I'm very glad to see you are blogging again - yay!

March 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel

I'm an apple lover & can't wait to try this!

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJill

Me, me, me!!! Please pick me!!!!
I've just picked up apples at Testaccio's Farmers' market in order to bake them

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

How lovely!

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

Truly a lovely book.

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchiquita

This book with it's stunning photography appear to be yet another must have to add to my ever growing collection! Those apples look so warm and inviting; can't wait to give this recipe a try! Thanks!

March 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa

Glad you're blogging again ! The book looks beautiful. My grandparents lived well in their 90's, and enjoyed simple baked Cortland apples regularly! Vanilla and olive oil , nuts, yogurt, sound so good though...

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRuth Gangbar

I'm from Western Massachusetts, and my mom would always make us baked apples for dessert in the fall. I'm excited to try this new version with the olive oil. It would never occur to me to add it, but now I can't wait to give it a shot.

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

This does look beautiful! I can't wait to read it. I just received Nigel Slater's Tender for Christmas and I have yet to finish going through that!

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel

I haven't seen Bea's site, but I'm excited to check it out! Beautiful photos!

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMariah

Her photos are quite stunning (as usual). Baked apples reminds me of the three years I lived in Ireland, and perhaps the only way I was able to get through their rainy winters! umassgecko@gmail.com

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLys

La Tartine Gourmande is a firm fixture on my list of bookmarked blogs! Love Bea's writing, photography (so similar to Aran of Cannelle Et Vanille's!) and recipes.

I hope you're working on *your* cookbook...I'd so buy it!

March 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Ok, so on my last post I wrote my own name wrong and I came to realized that the first comment I wrote didn't get to you.

So here it goes again:

Hi Melissa,
My name is Maria and I'm an eighteen-years-old food lover and amateur cook from Brazil. I love your blog and believe I've read all of your posts by now. I first came here from a brazilian food blog, where the author said something about your caramelized vegetable soup recipe. I live in a very hot country, but I love soup so much I'll have the airco on just so I can sip a bit comfortably. I love your recipes and the way you write, and I find your photos absulutely amazing - I'm also in love with photography, altough I don't really like making pictures of food.
I'd love to get that book, I'm sure I will find it inspirational, if you do so.

PS. I cried reading your tales from the Basque Country... and I cry everytime I read them again. You see, I'm also an AFSer. When I was sixteen (not so long ago) I landed in the Netherlands to spend a year in a country I didn't know with a family that wasn't mine. I also conneceted with my hostfamily through food and cooking - my hostdad loved too cooked and I would often watch him making dinner when I got back from school, slowly learning new techniques and getting to understand the cusine of that place. I cooked for them sometimes, too - and I have some great recollections of from dishes they love, and also funny and somehow embarrasing memories from those times they would not understand what was going on on the plate and the pots at all.
I reckon that the reaction your host mom had when you asked for the sharp, delicious Manchengo Cheese was the same my hosts had when I started to walk around with a bag of drop (dutch black salted liquorice that barely no-one that wasn't born in the Netherlands likes) on my bag or purse everywhere I'd go (it's no surprise I gained 11kg in eleven months, hahaha).
Well, that's all. Keep up the lovely work you are doign with this blog, good bye and good luck!

Greetings from Rio de Janeiro ;)

Thank you, Maria for your thoughtful comment and for sharing a little about your experience in the Netherlands. As we both know, spending a year in a foreign country with another family is a crazy, exhilarating, difficult, life-changing experience, but it's amazing how many bridges we can build through food. I especially had to laugh at your love of drop - I can't stand the stuff!!! -m

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMaria

Although I realize Béa's site has been very popular for quite a while now, I've only just discovered it within the past few months, but I find it lovely and tempting. Wouldn't it be delightful to win a copy of her beautiful new book!

So glad the Traveler's Lunchbox is back, too.

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSherry

Béa's book looks just amazing! I'm a reader of her blog and everything is beatiful. I'm so looking forward to own a copy of the cookbook!

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

Gorgeous pictures & a simple yet beautiful recipe! Thanks for sharing, Melissa.

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterUlly

i would so love to win this book. i love bea's work!

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkirsten

I've been reading this blog for a while now, and the photography is just stunning! Would love to see the rest of the book!

March 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Although I would LOVE this book.....I would also love YOUR book. Surely some publisher with half a brain would have offered you a contract for a book by now. Or have I missed it somewhere. I was actually expecting to see one posted on this site, I just assumed that's what you were up to with the long absence.

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkathy

I would be thrilled to own a copy of that beautiful book. Thanks for the chance!

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

This book looks gorgeous.

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEsme

Hi, I'm new in the last 6 months or so to your blog. I'd just like to say how much I've enjoyed it and enjoyed working my way through your recipe collection!! Everything I have made so far has turned out perfectly and delicious in every respect! I love your approach to cooking and food and will be following you for a long time to come. Can't wait to make these apples, they and the book look amazing. Would love to be entered for the drawer

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

I found your blog while visiting Beyond Salmon & I'm SO glad I did. Your site is lovely & I look forward to reading through it. Maybe winning a beautiful cookbook is just icing on the cake! Being new to food blogging, I'm always looking for inspiration, on writing & creating photos, from those that have gone before me. Thanks for creating such a feast for the reader!

Cheers from the Midwest!
Vicki E

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVicki E

My darling fiancee would probably beg to differ, but I need ths book in my collection.
I need to learn how to make crusts and cakes out of millet, quinoa and amaranth.
I need to find sophisticated, seductive and sexy ways to coax my beloved man to dig in to a plate of veggies and actually enjoy it. I would love to enter this draw, and pray to win. Keeping fingers crossed... :)
Thanks for this great post!

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermalka lev adom

I am so glad you have begun blogging again, and truly would love to win this gorgeous book!

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSusanna

So inspiring! I'd love to see more of what she has to offer!

March 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHanna

The book is lovely, just what I 'd like to peruse as winter melts into Spring.

March 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJackee

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