Sunday, January 31, 2016

Easy Like Sunday... Dinner!

Sometimes there is just nothing better than an easy dinner. This is a new one that I tried tonight and I just NEEDED to share it with you. It is Sunday- this means several things. It means that I got up early for church, went out to a nice lunch, have cleaned the house, done laundry, worked out, and am now completely NOT in the mood to cook something lovely and decadent. 
My answer tonight? Mexican food. 

Not typically healthy, but typically cheap and full of ingredients that come in jars or cans or dried that your pantry may be filled with. So as I looked through my pantry and fridge, I came across some great items that I already had. It was a hodge podge- and I didn't end up using them all, but it gave me a good start. 

So of course, I turned to Pinterest, which for the record, I typically do not trust for recipes. Pinterest is fabulous for one thing... it INSPIRES us. Just as you would slightly tweak a wedding decor idea you find on Pinterest to your taste, do the same with the recipe. When I logged onto the app, I searched for "Healthy Mexican Dinner." The first thing that came up looked DELICIOUS, but then I read the title and saw "Baked Chicken Chimichanga". I wouldn't even tell Austin the name of the dish when I described it to him! 

A chimichanga just sounds like cardiac arrest and cellulite to me. However, after getting some inspiration from a fellow pinner, I came up with this healthier recipe that is delish. 

LeeLee's Healthy Baked Chicken Burritos (because I still don't like the name Chimichanga):
4 Cups Shredded Cooked Chicken
 Great tip: Rotisserie Chicken is tender, quick and cheap (especially at Star Market- and you can buy just the breast!)
2 cups Salsa- I bought a fresh salsa in the refrigerated section that wasn't as potent and had more fresh veggies and herbs
3 Green Onions, Chopped
1 avocado- Peeled and Chopped into Small Cubes
1/2 Green Bell Pepper, Minced
1/2 Red Bell Pepper, Minced
1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, Minced 
1 tsp. Fresh Garlic, Minced
2 Cups Shredded Mexican Cheese 
1 1/2 tsp. Cumin
1 tsp. Ground Oregano
8 10" Flour Tortillas
2 tbsp. Melted Butter
Salt and Pepper To Taste
Additional Toppings: Salsa, Sour Cream, Guacamole

Shred cooked chicken into large bowl. Add Salsa, Green Onions, Avocado, Bell Peppers, Garlic, Cheese, Cumin and Oregano and mix until well combined. 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place 1 cup of chicken mixture into middle of each tortilla. Fold each side and roll like a burrito. Place open side down on parchment lined baking sheet. Spray with cooking spray (or brush with melted butter) and bake for 30 minutes until tortillas are golden brown on tops.

Serve with Yellow Rice with Scallions and Grilled Corn Salad
Mexican Grilled Corn Salad:
 3 Cups Shredded Iceberg Lettuce
4 Ears of Corn, Sprayed with Oil and Grilled 
2 tbsp. Avocado Ranch Dressing
1 tbsp. Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Juice of 1/2 Lime

Austin loved this dinner and inhaled it before heading out for a night with the guys. One of my best friends, Cynthia, and I also adored it before watching the LIVE performance of "Grease" on FOX tonight. The perfect evening. 

If you have any questions about this recipe, please comment! And as always... Enjoy!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Welcome Back to Gracious Goodness

Well, I have finally decided that it is time for me to start blogging again!

 Cooking, entertaining and writing have always been passions of mine, so this blog has always seemed like an obvious outlet, but in the past two years (has it really been that long since I have posted something?!?!) finding the time has been an issue. 
These "late-twenties" years are hectic! When I was in college, I was under the common impression that your twenties are so much fun- and don't get me wrong, they are- but real life hits fast and hard after that breezy college lifestyle. Since I last posted, I have gone through some major changes and done a whole lot of that wonderful/awful "growing up" thing. 

Here are a few things that have changed from my past-blogger self:
1. I'm very much in love with a wonderful, kind man, Austin Ray. 
You will hear a lot about him throughout my posts, as he is usually my recipe guinea pig (most of the time, very happily- unless I really screw something up!) 

2. I now own a restaurant that I used to be an employee of.

This was a much bigger change than I expected it to be. After working as an assistant to my Mama, then a cook, then a MASSIVE failure of a book-keeper, then a manager, Mama finally decided it was time for me to take some ownership. 

I'll never forget sitting at that table with my attorney (who also doubles as my brother, Chris, the best big brother a girl could ever pray for) as I was about to sign those papers. It all felt so official- sitting at a huge conference table at a law firm with just the two of us, him sitting at the head of the table with printed documents and a very fancy pen for me to sign them with. 

Before I got there, I was totally ready. I mean, I had been running this deal for over two years alone! As soon as I sat down, I suddenly felt very small, very young, very unprepared, and quite frankly- scared to death. I remember him asking me how I felt. I told him it was a 50/50 between bursting into tears and throwing up on the table. 

It has been two years now, lots and lots of changes, and while I have never thrown up over it, there have definitely been some bursts of tears. While it is a stressful, 24/7 kind of job, there is none more rewarding. We have increased our restaurant business, increased our catering business, incorporated cooking camps for children, and are about to introduce our first open adult cooking classes. 

3. I've dealt with some personal losses. 

In May of 2014, we lost my Grandfather, Elton Wiginton. He was a Godly family man that worked almost until the day he died. I love a story that his pastor, Brother Nathan, told at his funeral. Brother Nathan is notoriously an inexperienced farmer/gardener, but he wanted a vegetable garden. Grandaddy, of course, offered to till the land for him and mentor him through the gardening process. Brother Nathan said that when Grandaddy arrived at his house with the tiller in the back of the truck, Brother Nathan went to get it down, knowing that it is a very heavy piece of machinery for a 93-year-old man to manage. Grandaddy immediately stopped him and said, "Son, let me get this. I think it may be a little too  heavy for you." That is the man he was- giving, loving, and always serving others. We love and miss him greatly. 

Earlier this year, we lost my precious Suggie, Evelyn Jean Newcomb, my Mama's Mama. She was my everything- my role model, my go-to for advice, the epitome of elegance and grace. She taught me how to tease my hair, the glorious benefits of powder-spray shampoo, the importance of being prepared to entertain unexpectedly (the woman pre-cut a whole roll of parchment paper into 9" rounds so that she could bake a cake on a whim. She also pre-sifted her flour, which I still don't understand completely, but I still do it), and a whole lot about how to one day be a good wife. This loss was, and still is, a big one for me, but I find peace in knowing that she is finally back in the arms of her beloved husband, Guy, who she had been missing since 1984. You'll hear a lot more about Suggie in upcoming posts. 

4. I've come a few steps closer to my dream of one day having my own cooking show. 
As most of you know, I was on an episode of the Food Network's "Cutthroat Kitchen" a few years ago-and WON! I was on another episode of Cutthroat Kitchen for the "Evilicious Tournament," where winners returned to compete against one another. I lost in the first round, due to a sabotage where I was given a wok with the bottom cut out of it, but it was still a wonderful opportunity. 

In 2015, my restaurant, Lyn's Gracious Goodness, was featured on a new Food Network show, "Southern Fried Road Trip" with the Deen brothers. We had the best time with Bobby and Jamie making our signature Tomato Pie, Fried Bologna sandwiches and Sweet Garlic Pickles. What a treat!

So to my past readers, thanks for sticking with me through this lengthy break. To my new readers, get ready for some great recipes, some great stories, and a whole lot of honesty. Cooking and entertaining are two areas where people try very hard to be "perfect." Through these past few years, I no longer strive for perfection, and I don't think you should either. Just do your best- people can't enjoy the fruits of your labor (perfect or not) if you are exuding stress instead of joy. I will do my best to help you through these times and give you some great ideas, but I will give full disclosure when something completely flops. I adore your comments, questions, and shares to help the blog reach further than my immediate audience. 

I'm also planning on a format change for the blog. Some posts will be much like my prior posts- longer and full of detailed, step-by-step photos. Other posts will be quick with some photos. Others will be non-cooking related and focus on something I like to call "Things I'm Really Into Right Now." This could range from a new cookbook, a new boutique wine I have found, or maybe even an adult coloring book. 

I look forward to this new adventure and thank you for joining me in it. 

Enjoy, y'all!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A New Friend and a New Adventure

Many of you know that, just as much as I love to cook, I love to entertain. I've been notorious since high school for turning a casual cookout into a full-fledged dinner party. I'm sorry- I just can't help myself. I love everything involved in throwing a party- the planning process of it- the food - the decorations - the flowers - the little touches that make it special. For the past year, I have been trying to figure out a way to logically incorporate these things into my business, but without fully becoming an event planner, it just didn't make sense. I just couldn't find the answer. Until now...

A couple of months ago, I got a phone call from my friend Melissa Dodgen asking if I knew anything about her friend Natasha McCrary, who had a farm in Mooresville. Melissa told me that Natasha was looking for someone to teach classes at her farm and that she had given her my name. I really had no idea what kind of classes she meant, but was immediately intrigued. Within five minutes I was on the phone with Natasha and fully committed to the task.
Natasha and me at our first entertaining class at 1818 Farms
I ran into Natasha at a party at the Huntsville Museum of Art shortly after. When we began talking and planning, the only thing I could think was, "Why am I just now meeting this person?" Natasha is one of those people that you know could throw a gorgeous dinner party and give an i.v. to a sheep, both with astounding levels of grace and confidence. It is kind of unbelievable.

Once the date was set for our Fall entertaining class, I quickly had to figure out what on earth I was going to teach these people! The class was sold out and I knew that I had to make a good first impression in order for this to be a successful venture for both of us. The day before the class, Mama called to check on me. I told her of my plans to head to the wholesale florist to pick up some flowers, then on to get more flowers from Mary Frances Brosemer at the Greene Street Market and .... at that point she cut me off. "You are going to teach these women how to do flowers?!," she asked, seeming shocked. I wasn't wild about her tone, but answered with a firm "yes." She then asked, "LeeLee, do YOU know how to do flowers?" A little bit of panic struck in my stomach. "No...not really," I answered, "but I will figure it out."

Twelve hours later, my arms were covered in pumpkin gunk and you couldn't see the floor of my garage beneath the piles of petals, stems and leaves, but I was ready.
Testing designs in pumpkin scraps

The first successful arrangement in my garage turned flower studio
 At 7 am on Friday morning, my cook/friend, Becca, and I loaded up the car and headed to 1818 Farms in Mooresville. The ladies arrived at 10 am and were taken on a tour of the farm. Natasha introduced them to the sheep, chickens, goats, and the newest member of the 1818 Farms family, Cupcake, a baby pot-bellied pig.
Natasha introducing our guests to the animals
Cupcake being friendly
Once they had met the animals, they headed down to see Natasha's gorgeous garden, from which I conveniently stole the most gorgeous lettuces you have ever seen, along with a handful of heirloom cherry tomatoes. On top of the vegetables, Natasha has the most gorgeous flowers and herbs - Sunflowers, zinnias, and rows of lavender.
Ladies and Lavender!
While Natasha was giving everyone the grand tour, Becca and I were preparing lunch in the precious garden house.
1818 Farms Garden House- The perfect setting for our classes!
My Centerpieces - White pumpkin vase filled with Roses, Dahlias and Zinnias. Gourds from 1818 Farms were the perfect addition to the pumpkin arrangement. Extra flowers were tucked in as a final garnish. 
A sprig of lavender from 1818 Farms made each place setting a bit more special

 Guests enjoyed a curried chicken salad in a roasted acorn squash, a salad of Natasha's lettuces and tomatoes in a citrus vinaigrette, and Dee's delicious homemade rolls.
A fabulous Fall luncheon
Guests enjoying lunch
 The "class" portion of the day took place after lunch. I first discussed the making of the centerpieces and variations that could be made to fit other tables/occasions. We then created several different arrangements using different varieties of pumpkins and gourds, discussing which were better for certain types of arrangements. We did large arrangements of branches and flowers in cylinder vases that I filled with beans as a substitute for oasis, warning the ladies that this was a 1-day arrangement, because the beans begin to sprout in the water!
Working on an arrangement
My flower station in the garden house
Gorgeous apples were used as votive candle holders. I carve a small portion of the apple out, so that the votive candle fits just in the top. The apples look so pretty as the wax drips!
Pressing the votive candle into the apple
My favorite creation of the day was the massive pumpkin that I carved and then etched into a gorgeous wine cooler using wood carving tools.
My massive masterpiece- So much more fun and festive than your typical wine cooler!
Finally, we ended the lesson with fun ideas for Fall-themed place cards. Becca, Natasha and I laughed after the class, because this was everyone's favorite thing and it took the very least time and effort!
I literally found this leaf on the ground at 1818 Farms- Something so simple can be made into something very special
Tiny Pumpkins from 1818 Farms became festive place cards with just a little help from a gold paint pen!
After the class, pumpkins, eggs, lavender, and flowers from 1818 Farms were for sale, along with a few baked goodies from Lyn's Gracious Goodness. As a party favor, each guest got to pick a pumpkin to take home!

As we were all getting up to leave, Cupcake wandered in to clean up the crumbs!
Cupcake wanted to join the fun!
I just cannot even begin to tell you how fun and special these classes are. I am so thankful to be a part of it all. Our next class will be Thanksgiving themed and is scheduled for Friday, November 9. Due to the popularity of the first class, we will be offering a morning class from 10-12 as well as an afternoon class from 12:30-2:30. The class will be $75 per person. To make your reservations, visit Natasha's website:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I'm back! in more ways than one!

"Find something you are passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it." -Julia Child

Since I last posted, there have been many changes in my life. I'll go ahead and cover all my bases since I get the same questions on a daily basis.

1. Yes, I am now living in Huntsville, AL.
2. No, I have not graduated.
3. Yes, I plan to.
4. No, I am not in school now.
5. No, I am no longer planning on attending culinary school.
6. Yes, I am the new co-owner, soon to be owner, of Lyn's Gracious Goodness- a restaurant owned by my mother, Lyn Newcomb Aust, in Huntsville, AL.

Now a bit of explanation- First and foremost, I am happier now, running the restaurant, than I have ever been. In the last few months of work, some of you have made it evident that you disapprove of my decision to leave school, and I sincerely apologize if I have let you down. What I hope everyone can come to realize is that by not making this career move, I would have been letting myself down.

As far as cooking school goes, I did as much reading and personal research about it as possible-2 main issues came up for me. First, I read over and over that after spending two years and $200,000 you had maybe a 30% chance of getting anything above a prep job in a semi-prestigious restaurant. Also, I had to really question how much I wanted to be a chef- this was a big commitment! Did I want to play the behind the scenes role, or did I want to be the boss, the designer, the entertainer? It should come with little surprise to those of you who know me that chose the latter.

Realizing that culinary school probably wasn't my best option was very daunting to me- A sort of "well damn.... What do I do now?" sort of moment, but as she always does, Mama came through once again. As I was filling out my application to the two-year program at CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, Mama called to say that she just couldn't wait two more years and that she would be closing the restaurant. I just couldn't let her.

So here I am- and just like it did for her years ago, Lyn's has brought me back to life.

I had seriously considered ending this blog, but when people I didn't even know contacted me requesting more posts, I decided there must be some interest. I cannot promise you a daily post, but will make sure to blog at least once a week. I will promise you that this will not turn into a promotional blog for my restaurant, but since this blog is based on my life, the restaurant will be a part of some of my posts.

Stay tuned for a post on my favorite foods from my current vacation in Jamaica!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Millie's Iron Skillet Apple Pie

"Comfort me with apples..." - The Song of Solomon 2:5

Being from the South, we all know that there are few things in this world as welcoming and heartwarming as a homemade pie being pulled from the oven. When most of us imagine a 1950s American housewife, the picture that usually comes to mind is of a woman wearing a full-skirted dress, high heels and an apron, standing in her kitchen holding a pie. There's something uniquely American about pie, but in my opinion, Southerners do it best.

Over Christmas, I was asking family members for some of their favorite recipes that I could try out and then blog about. I hit the jackpot when I received this recipe for Iron Skillet Apple Pie from my cousin Nick's wife, Millie. Millie is one of the most kind, loving, and patient people you will ever meet. She is a fantastic mother, an extremely talented photographer, and a FABULOUS cook, who makes the most mouth-watering sweet treats you could ever imagine. This Iron Skillet Apple Pie recipe is pure gold. I advise that each of you print it out, make it for dessert tomorrow, and tuck it away in your recipe file for safe keeping.

Many great cooks will tell you that almost everything is better when made in a cast iron skillet. Not having much experience with one myself (other than making cornbread) I asked for one for Christmas. To my surprise, Mama gave me her very own Martin cast iron skillet, which apparently are very hard to come by these days. Now, I don't know about everything, but after trying this recipe of Millie's, I can boldly say that apple pie is most DEFINITELY better when made in a cast iron skillet. If you don't have one, head to your local hardware store and buy one. It will be a one-time purchase that you will use for the rest of your life.

This recipe is super easy, super inexpensive, and absolutely delectable. I've made it twice now and have eaten it not only for dessert, but also for breakfast the next morning...both times... whoops! It even had sweet little Napoleon licking his lips! This is a must-try recipe! Thank you Millie!

Click HERE for Millie's Iron Skillet Apple Pie Recipe!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let them eat cake!

"Everything in moderation...including moderation!" -Julia Child

So, we've already discussed how I have a little bit of an over-celebration problem and the birthday cake that I made for my friend Meagan's 24th birthday last weekend is a PERFECT example. Making cakes for my friends has become a tradition with me, but I will openly admit that I went a little bit overboard on this one. But hey, everyone loves a little extravagance on their birthday!

While making and eating this chocolate buttercream cake, we all need to completely erase the word "moderation" from our vocabularies. This recipe calls for so much butter that I'm shocked it isn't one of Paula Deen's recipes. But as every good southerner knows, butter makes it better. And WOW it really does in this case.

I found this recipe for chocolate buttercream cake in a Barefoot Contessa book a few weeks ago when I made a cake for our family friend Suzan Boyce. As delicious as Suzan's cake was, it wasn't that pretty and ended up being a trial run for the version I made the following week for Meagan. Once I had tweaked and mastered the recipe, I went a little crazy. Four tiers of crazy to be exact.

I'll warn you- this is a time consuming recipe, but it is SO worth the effort. The cake itself is the most fluffy, moist cake I've ever tasted. The trick is the cup of sour cream in the batter. On top of the cake itself being unbelievable, the icing is like nothing you've ever experienced. I love it because it really isn't all that sweet (which is dangerous because you're likely to end up eating more of it!)- that and the rum. Ina Garten lists the rum as "optional," but I consider it ESSENTIAL! What could be more indulgent than a whipped mixture of butter, sugar, chocolate and rum? It is truly sinful.

Making a tiered cake with a buttercream icing is much different than most tiered cakes you see with beautiful, smooth fondant icing. Unless you're a pro, which I am not, the buttercream looks a little less perfectly smooth than I would like when I finish icing it. For this reason, I feel that decorations are essential. Those of you who know me know that I'm a little bit Type A, so I need something about this cake to look streamlined and "perfect."

One of my favorite cake decorating tools are dragees- edible little shiny, metallic-colored balls. They are available at any cake decorating store and some specialty grocery stores. They are the perfect way to make something look fancy and special.

On Meagan's cake, I lined the edge of each tier with silver dragees. When doing this on a buttercream icing, I recommend placing the dragees with tweezers rather than your fingers because the heat of your hands will tend to melt the buttercream.

To top the cake, fresh flowers are always a gorgeous (and EASY) option. I grabbed a few different shades of pink roses, rinsed them, cut the stems to about 2 inches, removed the leaves and thorns, and arranged them on the top tier of the cake. For candles, I ALWAYS choose long sparkler candles. There is nothing more special than being presented with a cake that looks like it is topped with fireworks!

Served with pink champagne, this tiered chocolate buttercream cake made Meagan's birthday super special- and was a HUGE crowd pleaser. When I came back into the living room after handing out everyone's cake, I literally found Meagan licking her plate. I would post a picture if I didn't think it would jeopardize our friendship! However, to make my point, I will share a picture of how much the birthday girl still loved her cake the next morning!

I hope that this cake can make a special memory for you and your friends just as it did for us!

Click HERE for the Chocolate Buttercream Cake Recipe!
Click HERE for the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Twist on Julia Child's TARTE AUX POMMES

"It is so beautifully arranged on the plate- you know someone's fingers have been all over it."
- Julia Child

First I must apologize for not writing this post sooner- leaving you hanging with an empty pie crust after my Pate Brisee Sucree post a while back. If you recall, I used that gorgeous pie shell in making Julia Child's TARTE AUX POMMES- an apple tarte that can be served hot or cold (I prefer hot). In "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Julia describes Tarte aux Pommes as a classic French apple tarte that "consists of a thick, well-flavored applesauce spread in a partially cooked pastry shell. Over it thinly sliced apples are placed in an overlapping design of circles. After baking, it is coated with apricot glaze."

I put a little twist on Julia's recipe by replacing the Golden Delicious apples with the "pear apples" (or Chinese White Pears) that I picked up from the produce stands on I-82. The tarte turned out beautifully with the "pear apples" and was unbelievably delicious. It also held longer than regular apples probably would have. However, I would not recommend using them instead of the Golden Delicious apples if I were to make this recipe again, simply because the pear apples are much more tough and grainy, which made them a nightmare to work with.

Once your Pate Brisee Sucree is completed, the next step is to start on your apples. Quarter, core and peel 4 lbs. of apples. Once prepared, cut the apples lengthwise into even 1/8 inch crescent-shaped slices. Immediately after slicing, toss the slices in a mixing bowl with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar. This is to prevent browning.

Here's a tip: Do one apple at a time. I made the mistake of cleaning (quartering, coring, and peeling) all of my apples at once for the sake of a good blog photo and had to go to extra measures to prevent browning.

For the first few apples (enough to make 4 cups worth of slices) make sure your slices are even and beautiful. Take your time on this because these will be the slices that will top your tarte. Toss these in lemon juice and sugar, cover with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator.

Next, grab a large mixing bowl and repeat this process with the remaining apples. Don't be a Type A perfectionist (like me) here, slicing each apple with meticulous care. You're wasting your time- they will be mush in the end. In this step, I found that 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of sugar weren't enough, so add as you need it. Keep in mind that the slices only need to be lightly coated, not drenched- If drenched, the acid from the lemon juice will make them disintegrate. You should end up with about 8 cups.

Note: I find that in a process like this, having a "trash bowl" (just another large mixing bowl to throw your scraps in) makes life much easier. It keeps you from walking back and forth to the trash can constantly.

Next, place your 8 cups of slices into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, leaving your pretty slices in the fridge- We'll get to them later. Over low heat, cook covered until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Once the apples are tender, beat in 2/3 cup of sugar, 3 tablespoons of butter, 1/3 cup syrup from a jar of peach preserves, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and the grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 orange.

Note: this is MY spin on this recipe. Where I used 1/3 cup syrup from a jar of peach preserves, Julia says to use 1/3 cup apricot preserves forced through a sieve. I didn't have apricot preserves or a sieve, so I worked with what I had and it turned out just fine. She also notes that you can replace the tablespoon of vanilla extract with 1/4 cup Calvados (apple brandy), rum, or cognac- again, I worked with what I had. Julia lists the cinnamon, lemon rind and orange rind all as optional ingredients, but I used them all and I recommend that you do the same- It's a flavor like nothing you've ever experienced.

Once you've beaten these ingredients together with your cooked apple slices, raise the heat and boil, stirring consistently until your applesauce is thick enough to hold a mass in the spoon. This takes a while, but be patient! It is sooooooooooooooooooooo worth it!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Grab your cooled Pate Brisee Sucree. Pour your applesauce into the pie shell and smooth over with your spoon or spatula.

Now, here comes the decorative part. Remove your pretty slices from the refrigerator. Starting on the outer edges, cover our applesauce with "a neat, closely overlapping layer of sliced apples arranged in a spiral, concentric circles."

After arranging your slices, bake your tarte in the upper third of your oven for about 30 minutes or until the top layer of apples is slightly browned and tender. Remove tarte from oven and set aside to cool.

If you left the spring-releasing edges of your false-bottomed pan on for this final baking process, carefully set your tarte atop a jar (ALWAYS HOLDING ONTO IT!) and VERY CAREFULLY release the spring sides of the pan, letting them fall to the counter, leaving your tarte on the false bottom atop the jar. Carefully slide your tarte off of the false bottom and onto a cooling rack or serving dish.

At this point, you're supposed to brush your tarte with apricot glaze (recipe available on page 593 of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"), but I simply brought the remainder of my syrup from my peach preserves to a boil and brushed my tarte with that.

Serve warm or cold with FRESH, HOMEMADE whipped cream or creme fraiche. You have worked SO hard on this gorgeous tarte. Topping it with whipped cream from a can would simply be a crime.

This is one of the most time consuming recipes I've ever tried, but I am more proud of my TARTE AUX POMMES than I am of anything else I've ever cooked. As Julia says, "...nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should."