Tag Archives: french

hungry husband 101

This is the story of one hungry carnivore, his vegetarian chef, and $70 to feed the couple for one week.

The dilemma: packaged chicken tenders and thighs suffer neglect in our freezer, and are often frost-bitten within the month. Hence, we regularly throw away $5 of the $7 spent on pre-cut chicken parts (leaving less room in the fridge for useful things like asparagus and potstickers).  The other problem: meat-eating hubby does not prefer to partake in the post-work cooking hour his wife so enjoys.

This is a week of particular budgeting, and meals that work with ingredients in the fridge (always an effective method for a frugal menu): tacos, spaghetti, bok choy with potstickers, and tuscan white beans with grilled bread. The common denominator: these all work with chicken. And Chicken is Andrew’s middle name.

With my birthday dutch oven in mind, I picked up a 5 lb. chicken at Trader Joes for $6.17. That’s less than (quality) chicken breasts alone.

Now, I created A Pear to Remember to be a place for accessible cooking, and I realize many cooks do not own a dutch oven. Well let me tell you that I made my very first roast chicken in a 9 x 13-inch ceramic casserole, and it worked out just lovely (read more about Tweety McCluck, and my adoption story, here). Do not allow the lack of a handsome green pot (known affectionately here as Monsieur Pesto) to hinder you from conquering a little chicken.

On a personal note, there is something wholly satisfying about preparing and presenting a juicy, golden bird to the chicken lover(s) in your life. This recipe produces a truly succulent, flavor-packed entrée to last throughout the week. And the house will smell fantastic.

Poulet en Cocotte

“Chicken in a Pot”

adapted slightly from February 2008’s Cook’s Illustrated

1 whole roasting chicken (about 5 lbs.), giblets removed and discarded, wings tucked under  back

2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt

1/4 teaspoon black  pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, sliced into wedges

6 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1 bay leaf 

1 medium spring of rosemary

1/2-1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees.  Pat  chicken dry with paper towel and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking.  Add chicken breast-side down;  scatter onion, garlic, bay leaf and rosemary around chicken.

Cook until  breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes.  Using a wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird flip chicken breast side up and cook until chicken and vegetables are well browned, 6  to 8 minutes.

Remove Dutch oven from heat and cover tightly with lid.

Transfer pot to oven and cook until an instant read thermometer registers 160  degrees when inserted in the thickest part of the breast and 175 degrees in the  thickest part of the thigh, 80 to 110 minutes. Clear juices from the thigh are also a simple indicator of doneness.

Transfer chicken to carving board, tent with foil and rest 20 minutes. Actually, I placed the chicken on a large serving platter with a lip to catch the juices, and moved it to the cutting board just before carving. This is a handy time to watch a video on carving a chicken, in case you also needed a little guidance (I found this one incredibly helpful).

At this point, I let the chicken cool and packed it all in one container for Andrew to enjoy throughout the week. Okay, let’s be real: I first took photos while Andrew pulled bits from the carcass. Two thumbs up from a very happy husband.

If you are interested in serving it right away, you can continue with the following: Strain the chicken juices from pot through a fine-mesh strainer into fat separator, pressing on  solids to extract liquid; discard solids (you should have about 3/4 cup juices).  Allow liquid to settle 5 minutes, then pour into saucepan and set over low  heat.  Carve chicken, adding any accumulated juices to saucepan.  Stir lemon juice into jus to taste (jus: a sauce from natural juices; pronounced zhoo). Serve the chicken, passing jus at table.

Not to brag, but for a vegetarian carving a chicken for the first time, I was pretty dang thrilled the cuts resembled recognizable pieces of meat.

And the onions? Beauty incarnate.

See more of my food budget and shopping tips here.

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getting fat and fancy

Back in 2007, I named my new car Ella after my favorite singer. She’s a musical car, and even honks in C major. I love Ella Fitzgerald’s recording of What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve? to which you might consider listening tomorrow. Here is a sweet performance with Nat King Cole with an equally important message about holiday foods:

In my twenty years of playing piano, I have never had such luck as Mr. Cole in taking my finger off the keys with such frequency—and keep the music playing…

The following recipe is unusually rich compared to the kinds of meals I advocate and typically cook. But it is remarkably sophisicated, like Miss Ella’s voice, and sometimes heavy cream it’s all right with me.

I saw Jacques Pepin makes this potato gratin on PBS several years ago, and it looked too easy, too French to not replicate in my own kitchen. My Polish-raised inner-child cannot pass up creamy potatoes buried in golden cheese.

It’s important the potatoes are even and thinly sliced. A cheap $6 mandolin makes the preparation for this gratin a breeze.

A gratin is the brown crust on foods prepared au gratin. The brown is often from cheese, butter, or in the best case: both. Gratin originates from the French word grater, which is why you’ll find yourself grating gorgeous white cheese for gratin dishes. Now I only made it to French 3 in high school, but I’m pretty sure you impress your guests by pronouncing this gra-tan daf-nee-wahr with your nose raised ever so slightly.

Gratin Dauphinois

from the brilliant Jacques Pepin

serves 8, 30 minutes prep  

2  1/2 lbs boiling potatoes, such as Yukon Gold

3  1/2 cups half-and-half

2 large garlic cloves, minced (remember, you can do this on your microplane)

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3/4 cup coarsely grated Gruyère

Special equipment: a mandoline or other adjustable-blade slicer

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400°F. Generously butter a 2 1/2- to 3-quart gratin dish or other shallow baking dish.

Peel potatoes. Cut crosswise into 1/16-inch-thick slices with slicer and transfer to a 4-quart heavy saucepan. Add half-and-half, garlic, salt, and pepper and bring just to a boil over moderate heat.

Pour potato mixture into buttered dish, distributing potatoes evenly. Sprinkle nutmeg and cheese evenly over top. Bake until potatoes are tender and top is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Jacques’ note: The gratin can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cool completely, then refrigerate, covered. Bring to room temperature before reheating, covered, in a 350°F oven.

What are you doing New Year’s Eve? I’m making a potato and leek gratin with brie—naughty as can be—and sharing it with great friends.

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better to give (than to eat all the cookies)

The holidays storm in each winter just moments before we get around to our pocketfuls of good intentions. Like the grand notion of baking for every family on our new street. We had a day in mind, and Andrew swore he would stand by my side and not allow yet another baking disaster. But we found endless errands to run on Baking Day, and Christmas week was upon us.

In the end, we attempted a less complicated recipe. Naturally—as December tasks go—at the last minute.  On my only previous attempt, I had produced a succesful batch meringues. And. They. Are. So. Dang. Simple. While I don’t know if they really count as cookies, they were well-appreciated and enjoyed by our neighbors. Fewer neighbors than we planned, as only one-third baked as pretty enough to give as gifts. The remainder resembled teeny toadstools, and were utterly delicious.

Note: we doubled this recipe, and they lasted well for four days in an airtight container on the counter. Maybe they last longer, but they all were eaten by then. Also, if you do not want to purchase superfine sugar, you can pulse regular cane sugar in a food processor. I used Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips; you could also use a dark chocolate bar.

Dark Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies

adapted from Emeril’s recipe, yields four dozen small cookies

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2/3 cup superfine granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until fluffy but not at all dry. (Be careful not to over beat.) Add the sugar gradually, about 3 tablespoons at a time. When 1/2 of the sugar has been added, add the vanilla extract. Continue beating and adding remaining sugar in batches, until all of the sugar is dissolved and the meringue is very shiny and tight. With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped chocolate.

Working one teaspoon at a time, push a teaspoonful of meringue from the tip of 1 teaspoon with the back of another teaspoon onto the lined baking sheets, leaving 1-inch of space between cookies. Or, quickly spoon mixture into a plastic gallon zip-bag with the tip cut and dollop onto the parchment. Place baking sheets in the preheated oven and turn the oven off. Leave the cookies (undisturbed) in the oven for at least 2 hours and up to overnight, or until cookies are crisp and dry. I like to leave them overnight, but only when I have another dessert in the house to hold me over.

In case the neighbors want to know…

Per Cookie: (48); Calories: 44; Total Fat: 2.5 grams; Saturated Fat:0.5 grams; Protein: 1 gram; Total carbohydrates: 5 grams; Sugar: 5 grams; Fiber: 0 grams; Cholesterol: 0 milligrams; Sodium: 3 milligrams

Now I did not create this blog as a venue for profanities, but I had to chuckle when one meringue recipient stated, “These are fucking unbelievable.”

Some other gifts I whipped up last week:

This pillow for Mom’s birthday I stitched over an insert. It was the sweater I wore in my high school senior portrait.

And a few handmade scarves I presented in these darling World Market take-out boxes to my co-workers. Andrew called them Lindsey’s Scarf LoMein.

What’s your favorite gift you gave away this year?

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we all need some veggie to love

Yes, the Jefferson Airplane song popped right into my head this Sunday afternoon as I took my first bite of An Artichoke. Ever. A truly psychedelic experience. The lyrics ask the ultimate question (about terrifying, hypothetical circumstances): When the garden flowers, baby, are dead and your mind is so full of red, don’t you want some veggie to love? Don’t you need some veggie to love?

You see, Andrew and I were on our regular Sunday afternoon Trader Joes trip, already in the checkout line and this basket of nestled artichokes (where one might find magazines or candy at a lesser grocery store) made me want to dance like the hippies in the video above.

Mom and Dad always wanted me to try new things, though I believe they had steak in mind. I felt very adventurous with my little green friend and wanted to do this right. I think if foods are prepared with care and proper technique, anyone can make any food fabulous. I feel like there are few occasions where high heat can do a food wrong, precisely why I turn to roasting and grilling most often. Though I hadn’t a clue what to do with an artichoke (thank you, internet videos), I figured it would surely enjoy sitting a spell on my favorite blue grill.

A special thanks to The Killer Griller for the confidence to grill my artichokes. I’m also sending you once again to my Harris Teeter friend to learn how to prepare an artichoke for steaming through his brief instructional video.

Lindsey’s Garlic Grilled Artichokes

serves one as a main course, easily adapted to serve more

an artichoke

olive oil

four garlic cloves

half a lemon

coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

you will also need:

a pastry or silicone brush and aluminum foil

for optional Let’s-Pretend-This-is-Aioli dipping sauce

1/4 cup mayonnaise

Prep the artichoke

Preheat your grill to medium heat. Cut an inch off the top of the artichoke, cut the outer tips, and use a vegetable peeler on the stem (more visual instructions here). Immediately rub the exposed parts with a cut lemon to prevent browning. Reserve the lemon.

Steam the artichoke

Place the artichoke on a large sheet of aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil (or melted butter if you’re feeling naughty). Wrap the foil around the ‘choke and seal well. (Make individual packets if you’re preparing more than one artichoke). Place on the grill for about 40 minutes, or until a paring knife slides easily into the middle—you can test right when it’s on the grill.

Make the marinade

While the artichokes are steaming on the grill, crush the garlic cloves with a firm whack of your wide chef’s knife. (If you only have a narrow knife, you can smash it with the bottom of a pan, a meat pounder, etc. Get creative). Stir the smashed garlic pieces into 1/2 cup of olive oil, and season very well with coarse salt and fresh pepper.

When the artichoke is tender, remove the bundled ‘choke to your cutting board and carefully open. Cut the globe in half and scrape out the fuzzy middle—click here to watch The Killer Griller demonstrate. Brush both sides generously with your garlic marinade.

Grill that baby

Place the artichoke halves cute cut side up on the hot grill, the garlic cloves snuggled in the middle of the heart (sigh). Grill for about four minutes and turn gently with tongs, setting the garlic aside. Turn again if you like, until the vegetable has gorgeous char marks. Put on a serving plate.

Chop the softened garlic very fine and stir into the mayo along with a big squeeze of lemon. Add coarse salt and lots of pepper. Get out a big napkin, rip and dip away. Don’t bother with a fork.

Three minutes later, the marvelous massacre:

What is your vegetable/cooking Everest?

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fit for family: part two (or getting your frico on)

As I was writing in the last post, it’s simple to make an elegant meal with few, fresh ingredients. When you’re lucky enough to access fresh veggies and cheeses from the farmer’s market, there is something extra special about your meal. Of course, the best part, whether a mother’s day meal or Friday night with friends, is your own presentation. I can’t say hard work and sweat because this is really a basics kind of meal (though you will call me a phony when you see the Strawberry Chips below…)

To accompany my original Springtime Casareccia with Basil & Fresh Ricotta, a basic but thrilling little salad:

Leaf-Lettuce Salad with Parmesan Crisps

from Great Food Fast, serves 6

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (2 ounces)

3/4 lb. red or green leaf lettuce

1 fresh lemon, zested and juiced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 small garlic clove

1/4 cup fresh herbs (basil, parsley, chives, or a mix)

3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

coarse salt and fresh ground pepper

You will need parchment paper, or a silicone baking mat

Bake the Frico

Frico (freek-o) is a delicate parmesan wafer that adds a spectacular dash of Unexpected to a very simple salad. Even if you overbake the batch by a minute or two—points to self—they remain impressively cheesey and elegant.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Divide the cheese into four mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet, at least four-inches apart. With the back of a spoon, spread each mound into an even 4-inch round.

Frico stores well as room temperature for a few days. I stacked the wafers between parchment paper for safe travel.

Bake until melted and golden brown, about 10 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through. With a thin metal spatula, transfer the crisps to a wire rack and let cool.

Tear the lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces.

Mix the dressing

In a blender (or small food processor), combine 2 tbsp. lemon juice, zest, mustard, garlic, and herbs (I used chives and basil). With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream.

(This can also be whisked together by hand; chop the herbs and garlic fine). Salt and pepper the dressing, taste to balance the acid adding more oil if necessary.

Just before serving, add the dressing to the lettuce along with salt and pepper. Serve the salad with frico atop.

Speaking of the unexpected, strawberry chips are one of those Special Occasion accessories for a simple dessert. My sister-in-law (doing her part, and also saving my can’t-bake-worth-squat butt) provided homemade brownies and vanilla ice cream. This little garnish was so intriguing on paper, I was thrilled to have a holiday to try them out.

Strawberry Chips

scribbled down from my working days at Azafran

1/4 lb. strawberries

3/4 cup sugar

you will also need: pastry brush, parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 225F (or 200 for a convection oven).

Boil the sugar syrup

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Slice the strawberries

Slice the stems off the strawberries so that the berries have a flat end. Slice the strawberries on a mandolin or line up the berries and thinly slice with a sharp knife.

Bake the strawberry slices

help from the hubs!

Lay out the strawberry slices on the baking pans (lined with parchment baking or silicone mats). With a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of sugar syrup over each strawberry. Bake (convection: 30 to 45 minutes; regular oven: 40 to 50 minutes), rotating the pans halfway through baking.

To test if the chips are done, remove one from the oven and allow it to cool on the counter.  If it is crispy once it has cooled, then it’s done. If the slices are browning, take them out of the oven. Remove the slices from the pan while they are hot, and cool on a clean, dry countertop.

These chips are a crunchy note on any creamy dessert, or a remarkable sweet snack. The original recipe calls for 1 lb. of strawberries for 60 strawberry chips; they keep well in a sealed container for 2 weeks. Keep them in a cool place. Or impress your mother-in-law 🙂

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red white and blue brunch

My birthfather stopped in for a very brief brunch this morning (behind-the-scenes photos here). Andrew asked how I could keep calling it a brunch after we rescheduled for 9am? I told him that’s how I could get away with serving tomatoes.

A varied and truly tasty menu, for next Saturday at your place perhaps. Hours of prep work the night before? Waking up at 5am to get that casserole in the oven? Not with this menu. Start to finish, this entire meal begins and makes its way to the table within 40 minutes.

Red: French Toast with Sautéed Tomatoes

Such a surprise. They sounded so good on the page, and did not disappoint.

from Easy Vegetarian, serves 4

4 eggs

1/4 cup milk

4 slices bread (white whole wheat was perfect)

4 tbsp. butter

8 ripe tomatoes, halved (we halved grape tomatoes)

coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large, shallow dish and beat well. Add the bread and let it soak 5 minutes so all the egg mixture is absorbed. (What an amazing technique for luscious French toast)!

Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the soaked bread and cook over medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes on each side.

Melt the butter in a separate skillet. Add the halved tomatoes and saute for 2 minutes on each side. Put the hot French toast on a warm plate and serve topped with the sautéed tomatoes.

White and Blue: Homemade Berried Yogurt

Don’t worry: the yogurt itself is store-bought. Making a fresh berry mixture to stir in is heavenly—and will forever turn you off to those watery aspartame yogurt cups, I hope. Eesh.

tweaked from Easy Vegetarian, serves 4-6

8 oz. fresh blueberries, about 1.5 cups

half a lemon, zested and juiced

a pinch of ground cinnamon

2 and 3/4 cups plain yogurt (cannot use low-fat for this dish; 2% Greek over here)

agave nectar to taste

Reserve a few of the best berries for serving and put the remainder in a small saucepan. Add the lemon zest, cinnamon, and 1 tbsp. water. Heat gently for about 3 minutes until the berries just start to soften slightly. Let cool.

Spoon the berries into glasses, then add the yogurt and agave nectar (start with about 1/2 tablespoon and taste). Top with the reserved berries. You can also just serve this in a big bowl, as we did.

For the guys, Andrew made omelettes with Dubliner cheese and chopped peppadews. On the side, we served sautéed baby potatoes with caramelized onions, pink orange wedges, coffee, and pomegranate-blueberry juice (our most recent Trader Joes obsession).

Brunch is definitely my new favorite way to start the weekend. Next time: honey-roasted peaches with ricotta and coffee-bean sugar.

Easy Vegetarian is an excellent cookbook, with brunch and dinner inspirations galore. For more on this and my other favorite cookbooks, just click here.

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whip it!

While this seems like an apt opening to a post on homemade mayo or vanilla-scented whipped cream, I wanted to write briefly about gorgeous not-so-challenging food you can whip together for all the company headed your way this season.

my blog made quite an apPEARance

It seems I’ve been cooking for crowds quite a bit this month, and while the food has been blessedly beautiful and delicious, these are really things you can whip together with ease. Oh yes, I was referring, specifically, to you.

Thanks to all who joined in the celebration of Statements on the Water’s grand opening. (I even ran into the music teacher from my school, who was quite surprised to find me in attendance as a vendor)!

I made a gazillion-and-one herbed tarts with caramelized onion, roasted pears, gorgonzola cheese, creme fraiche, sun-dried cranberries, and fresh chives. But darn if they don’t look worth it, eh?

Click here for a previous post on my very simple tart shells, which freeze wonderfully and stay fresh in the fridge for several days. With these fellas prepared, it’s simple to fill them with a variety of fillings–even premade if you find something bold and flavorful.

While caramelizing onions on the stove (sliced thin and resting in butter on low heat about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally until deep amber), I roasted pears in the oven: unpeeled, quartered and cored, placed on parchment paper in a 400F oven until brown. Once cooled, pulse the roasted pears briefly in a food processor, or chop finely and combine the mixture.

Simply heap your onion-pear filling–which should resemble the consistency of very chunky applesauce–into the shells with a teaspoon measure. Next, top with blue cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, chopped chives, and a dollop of creme fraiche (or sour cream).

Here’s the kicker: you can omit any of these ingredients and they will still be delicious. I started out making them with onions alone and add a new ingredient each time around. They’re so versatile. Remember when I filled them with rosemary ricotta and my rich slow-roasted tomatoes?

Next up, I have some easy-peasy sandwiches I recently served at a co-worker’s bridal shower. Fresh ciabatta, arugula pesto, roasted red peppers, and of course caramelized onions. Plus, turkey and avocado sandwiches to accompany my favorite Greek feta dip. But for now, friends, back to homework!

A warm welcome to all the many new readers & eaters I had the pleasure of meeting at yesterday’s event. Come back soon 😀

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easy as pie? give me a break

I am not a baker, and am in fact intimidated by most things involving a cake pan and eggs. Easy a pie is a preposterous expression—unless your grandmother showed you how to make one (and I was too busy eating her grilled cheese sandwiches to pay adequate attention), it’s more complex than the phrase suggests. And easy to mess up, I’ve learned through the years.

This delicacy is much simpler than pie. No pie plate, no layers of dough, no fluting, no venting—it’s a piece of cake. A galette, to be more accurate.

Galette. It’s a gorgeous French word, and if you know me you may be thinking it was my sole motive for making one. Perhaps.

I bought this box of juicy nectarines with the intent to do something exciting. I thought about grilling them and topping with feta, making a fruity salsa, tossing them in a fresh green salad. All fun ideas, but I remembered this nectarine galette I placed on my mental culinary bookshelf a year ago and from there I could dream of nothing else for my precious peach-siblings.

I could not agree more with Deb (of the brilliant blog Smitten Kitchen) that nectarines “unfairly play second fiddle to peaches”. Since childhood, my own love for nectarines has been more profound than peaches—for raw eating, that is.

Nectarines have all the sweet and juicy qualities of the peach, but bless their smooth skin!

My dear friend Eva and I went peach-picking for many years, ending the afternoon with orchard-fresh peach ice-cream. Then, each birthday, Eva standing tall on my doorstep, a hot peach birthday pie in hand (a tradition more challenging since she relocated to The American South). Though I have many fond memories of our peach-picking days, I cannot forget the awful itching of the peach fuzz—one I still experience trying to enjoy a raw peach. And thus began my peach prejudice.

I marveled at Eva’s homemade peach and apple pies growing up. In the kitchen together (as early as elementary school), she was throwing flour into a bowl and producing the most incredible pie crusts without measuring a thing. Even as her pupil, I never succeeded in pies and am still intimidated by the task. Free-form galettes, however, are a simple marvel. Less work, less time, and certainly more forgiving in form.

Prepare for the easiest and most reliable crust you’ll ever need. (Oh and so flaky I can’t even tell you in words).

Crust

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 3 ounces) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2–inch pieces

and you’ll definitely want a pastry blender

My previous tart dough was always made in my mixer or food processor. A pastry blender (which I borrowed for the most appropriate occasion) does produce the flakiest crust, and honestly it is much quicker by hand than by machine. Between the assembly and cleaning of machine parts, believe me this dough is a four-minute flash by hand. I know I’m never going back…

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a large, wide mixing bowl. Cut in six tablespoons of the coldest butter with a pastry blender, mixing until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal.

Dribble four tablespoons ice water over the mixture, using a rubber spatula to pull the mixture together. Gather the dough into a mound (either in the bowl or on a counter) and gently knead it together, for just a few seconds. If it’s not coming together, add ice water, a tablespoon at a time, until it does. (Don’t be tempted to add too much water—mine was barely holding together but still rolled out perfectly). Wrap the dough in a flat disc in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

You could slice your nectarines in the meantime (I promise time flies). Pastry dough must, must be cold—hence all the refrigerating required in this recipe. But between brushing all the flour off the counter, slicing the nectarines, and lugging all the bakeware out of your oven so you can preheat it, the waiting time is brief and the galette a sweet afternoon activity.

When you are ready to roll out the dough, take one disc and let it soften slightly so that it is malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the disk into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.

ANOTHER OPTION

Perhaps my affinity for small things is related to my own small stature (surely remedied when I grow to be 5 feet tall one day…) I like small portions, especially when it comes to dough—personal-sized pizza crust and mini cakes are right up my alley. My friend Michele even specializes in mini cakes (The Tiny Kitchen LLC), so it can’t be just me.

I sliced my chilled dough in half and rolled out two mini rounds (using that word loosely). One galette for you, one for a friend! Then I just used half the filling ingredients on each and it produced two lovely little galettes—besides decreasing the baking time.

Transfer the dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet (or two sheets, in my case) and refrigerate at least 1/2 hour before using.

Filling

1 tablespoon ground almonds
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar (I used Sugar In The Raw which made for big, beautiful caramelized crystals)
1 tablespoon
amaretti cookies, pulverized — or — 1 extra tablespoon ground almonds plus an extra teaspoon sugar
10 ounces galette dough, rolled into a 14-inch circle and chilled
1 and 1/2 pounds ripe nectarines (about 4 large)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)

and you’ll really want a pizza stone

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a pizza stone, if you have one, on a lower rack. Toss the ground almonds, flour, one tablespoon of the sugar, and pulverized amaretti (or mix of extra ground almonds and sugar) together. I used ground almonds + sugar.

I've said it before, I can't make a circle to save my life

Remove the prerolled dough from the refrigerator or freezer and sprinkle the almond mixture evenly over the pastry, leaving a 1 1/2 to 2-inch border uncoated. (Doing this right on the pizza stone or baking sheet makes life a whole lot easier).

Cut nectarines in half, removing pits, then each half into thirds (you’ll get six wedges per nectarine—though I sliced mine even thinner).

Arrange the fruit, in concentric circles on the dough, making a single layer of snugly touching pieces, leaving the border bare. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the sugar evenly over the fruit (I used less as this fruit was so ripe—just two large pinches).

While rotating the tart, fold the border of exposed dough up and over itself at regular intervals, crimping and pushing it up against the fruit. Pinch or trim off any excess dough. (Make sure there are no breaks that will let juices leak.) Brush the border with melted butter, and sprinkle it with two tablespoons sugar (or just two pinches of coarse turbinado sugar).

ideally, it looks more like this

If you are a novice baker like me, here’s another reason to make two mini tarts (four generous slices each). One is bound to be less… attractive. (See photos for proof). Serve the pretty one to someone you love and keep the ugly—yet equally delicious—one for yourself 🙂

Bake in the lower third of the oven (preferably on a pizza stone) for about 45 to 50 minutes (less for Lindsey-sized galettes), until the crust is well browned and its edges are slightly caramelized. If you wish, sprinkle sliced almonds over the galette 15 minutes before the baking time ends, so they get toasty and extra-crisp. As soon as the galette is out of the oven, use a large metal spatula to slide it onto a cooling rack, to keep it from getting soggy. Let cool for 20 minutes. If you want to glaze the tart, brush the fruit lightly with a little warmed peach (or nectarine, if you have it) jam. Serve warm, with vanilla ice cream or with plain yogurt—for a perfect breakfast.

Do ahead: This galette keeps at room temperature for at least two days, and even longer in the fridge. The unbaked dough, wrapped in plastic, will keep in the freezer for a few weeks, the fridge for a day or more. Rolled-out dough may be frozen and used the next day.

Again, I highly reccomend making two small tarts out of this. And make a second batch of this easy four-minute pastry dough to freeze and make more! Of course once you see how absurdly easy it is, you’ll be eager to try your own variations. For now, I’m still working on that box o’ nectarines…

See Deb’s nectarine galette over at Smitten Kitchen. My heartfelt thanks to Deb for the confidence booster!

…a peachy galette just a week later

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Filed under dessert, the basics

toum, skordalia, mujdei

No matter the language, it’s universally delicious. That’s right, we’re talking about garlic sauce. I came home, dreading a night of studying, determined to attempt Aioli. (Procrastination manifests in many forms). Ever since I told you about the blog Use Real Butter, I simply couldn’t get those fried lemon slices with aioli out of my head. Garlic mayonnaise, if you desire the American translation. Barefoot Contessa featured a French aioli dish with boiled fingerling potatoes as dippers. Surely the French have a more sophisticated term for dipping devices… That, too, had me fixated on this sauce.

seemed simple enough...

After reading dozens of tips for homemade mayonnaise techniques, I was pumped up to make awesome aioli. And then, according to my sole witness nearby in the kitchen, the Dark Side emerged. Mine to be exact. I became intensely pissed off at a variety of appliances, as I (mid-emulsion) transferred beaten yolks from food processor to mini food processor to ineffective mixing bowl with handmixer. The yolks either sat lifeless below the processor blades, or ran away from the beaters of my handmixer. The attempt was a frustrating pain in the, well, you know. But once the garlic and yolks and lemon juice emulsified…OH MY.

I followed the recipe from the blog Use Real Butter, and next time I will use the huge whisk on my standmixer. I’m certain this will be way more efficient, and am excited to try again 🙂

aioli
3 cloves garlic
1/2 -1 tsp salt
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup olive oil
juice of 1 lemon

Make the aioli: Peel the garlic cloves and mince. Gather the garlic into a little pile and pour the salt over it.

With the flat of a sturdy knife blade (or a pestle, as in my case), crush the salt into the garlic until you get a nice paste.

Combine the paste in a bowl with the egg yolks. Whisk or beat the egg yolks together (you can also use a food processor…but I wouldn’t recommend it with this small of a batch), adding a few drops of olive oil at the start. I would NEVER consider this by hand, as even using an electric beater had me mixing mayonnaise for a solid ten minutes—with limited use of my left shoulder the rest of the night… Keep whisking and adding a little oil until it begins to thicken. When I say a little, I mean a TEENY SINGLE DROP at a time. That’s the secret.

Add a tablespoon of lemon juice and continue whisking in the remaining oil until it reaches the desired consistency and flavor. Add more lemon juice and or salt to taste. The consistency will thicken upon standing, or at least it did on my first attmpt.

Here’s the thing: it’s going to taste SO strong that even you garlic-lovers are going to think you went overboard with 3 cloves of garlic. But serving aioli as a dip for plain, fresh vegetables makes for a combination so beautifully French.

I couldn’t find any fingerling potatoes at the grocery store, so I roasted some baby red potatoes. No less fantastic, I imagine.

Now I had to get onto my studying, especially with this aioli-fiasco, so I heated up some pre-made soup. As in, it was already made when I found it at the grocery store. I’m very particular about buying pre-made foods, particularly soups for the sodium content. My absolute, absolute favorite (and exclusive) grocery-store soup pick? Pacific Natural Foods Organic Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato. Widely available, though you may have to head to the “natural” aisle of a store like Giant. For soup from a carton, little compares.

Baby arugula, walnuts, and my favorite simple lemon & olive oil (+ garlic + honey) vinaigrette on the side. A dinner so…memorable.

 

…with just enough leftover ailoi for the next day’s sandwich

(I could go on and on and ON about sprouted grain bread—particularly the sesame variety—but we’ll save that for another time)

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Filed under dinners, techniques