Doug Taylor

Batali’s dessert guru shares a treat that features homegrown goodness

Doug Taylor helped launch the Molto Vegas Farmers Market to show that good quality fruits and vegetables can be grown in our desert. As executive pastry chef at Vegas’ Mario Batali restaurants—Carnevino, B&B and Otto—Taylor also proves this theory in his kitchens by producing a variety of delicious desserts.

Still, he says prosperity is not the first thing that comes to mind when people think of the desert.

“A lot of the time people don’t understand we have a decent agriculture community in Las Vegas. Most people don’t believe anything grows,” Taylor says. “We can grow really high-quality products here and they’re right outside our backdoor, so we always should take advantage of them as much as possible.”

Our Mojave climate is actually advantageous in several ways, he says. Instead of shutting down farms in winter months like in other places, the desert allows an extended growing season.

“Really our only not-so-great-time to grow is July and August, but it’s still being done with quite a bit of success,” says Taylor, who speaks on this topic as an instructor for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

The Molto Vegas Farmers Market, open to the public 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursdays (7485 S. Dean Martin Drive, Suite 106), is where farmers within a 150-mile radius sit behind tables of produce they picked that morning. This includes fruit, vegetables, herbs and coffee beans. The products are used in Taylor’s kitchens and other major restaurants on the Strip.

Among the fall produce now coming into season are apples, which Taylor obtains from Las Vegas’ Gilcrease Orchard via the farmers market. The homegrown apples have unique flavors and color, and they—as well as cider from the orchard—lend a special taste to one of his favorite cool-season creations: an apple crostata.

Taylor chose to share this dish because of the seasonality of the apples and its simplicity. “I find that the fewer ingredients you have, the better it probably is,” he says. “And what this dish is all about is the quality—the product and the sensibility of it.”

One special tip: “Patience,” he says. “With the puff pasty, it will rise and then you have to let it dry out so it’s nice and flaky. Once, it comes out [of the oven] you pretty much won’t have any self-control, but to just eat the whole thing. It’s worth the wait!”

Doug Taylor’s Apple Crostata

Photo by Anthony Mair

  • 1 apple
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough
  • 1 8-ounce nonstick tart mold
  • 1 quart granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 whole egg for egg wash

Sources: Apples and apple cider from Gilcrease Orchard; frozen puff pastry can be purchased at any gourmet grocery store.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

In a heavy bottom sauce pan on medium heat, sprinkle all of the sugar evenly into the pan.

Melt all the sugar till it turns to a dark caramel color and smells of toasted nuts. Using a wooden spoon, stir as little as possible to help melt the sugar evenly. (Note: While cooking sugar, be very careful not to burn yourself!)

When the sugar has come to a dark caramel color, add the cider slowly to stop from burning the caramel. Once the caramel has stopped bubbling stir in the butter, salt and lemon juice. Make sure the caramel is free of lumps, allow to cool at room temperature to about 100 degrees. Once the caramel has cooled down, spoon two ounces into the tart mold.

Core, peel and slice the apple into ⅛ inch rings and place half of the apple into the tart mold.

Cut the frozen puff dough to fit over the top of the tart mold.

Egg wash both sides of the puff pastry and place dough over the apples.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then turn down the oven to 250 degrees for an additional 45 minutes, or until the puff pastry is dried and flaky throughout. Be patient, it takes time!

Remove from the oven and carefully invert the crostata into a bowl as quickly as possible

Photo by Anthony Mair

(Note: Be cautious while inverting the crostata into a bowl; the caramel is very hot.)

Finish the dish off with your favorite vanilla bean gelato or ice cream and enjoy! Then come to B&B this fall and try Doug Taylor’s with a glass of wine or a seasonal cocktail.

Suggested Pairing

B&B beverage director Victor Pinkston recommends the Royal Tokaji 5 Puttonyos 2005, which has “rich and concentrated flavors with sweet baking spice tones” that make it a “beautiful pairing for roasted or baked fall fruit desserts. It also has beautiful undertones of sweet roasted nuts and bergamont that contrast and accompanies the toasting of the puff pastry and caramel along the bottom of the plate.” The wine can be found at the Lee’s Discount Liquor for about $40.

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