Summer Galette

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In the ongoing debate of team pie or team cake I am usually team cake. Lately I have fallen head over heels in love and joined team galette. We made them all winter with butternut squash and roasted onions and now I’m making berry galettes.

Instead of birthday cake I made galette for my 40th birthday party. It’s official. I’m in a relationship with a galette.

Pear Madness

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In the spring of 2012 we bought a home. It sits on a double lot with, to my mind, an over-landscaped yard. The only thing I saw was the upkeep. The raking of leaves and pine needles, weed pulling, trimming, fertilizing and the cost of watering. We’ve taken a hands-off approach and what makes it is hearty enough for our lifestyle. What doesn’t get’s trimmed or pulled and, well, those are the breaks. I don’t want to die with a headstone reading ‘at least she kept a tidy lawn’.

The property also came with fruit trees: Asian Pears, Italian Plums, Red Plums, Rainer Cherry, an apple tree, a fig tree in the greenhouse and the most enormous pear tree I’ve ever seen. It’s taller than our two story house. Last year was the summer of plums. This year, it was the pears. By mid-July I could see it was going to be an abundant and busy harvest. And was getting a little worried about harvesting them.

In early September I started checking the pears. Pulling a few of the low branches and feeling them, cutting them open and watching for when they hit that perfect time to pick and ripen off the vine. They are ready to pick when the seeds have turned brown and when the fruit is gently pushed perpendicular to the branch the fruit breaks at the stem. Wherever you live, find the extension service for the local ag college. The Oregon State Extension website is full of information from planting, harvesting, canning, beekeeping and gardening. Many times you can call and talk to an expert to help as well.

One Saturday I sent out the call. Six month pregnant me would be climbing into the pear tree. Come help and grab what you need. Four dear friends showed up and instead of hand picking the pears- as I had started doing in the morning- we laid out a tarp and friends climbed into the tree and shook the pears down. Granted, we lost quite a few that split, cracked or were too ripe to survive the fifteen foot fall into the alley. C’est la vie. The raccoons need to eat too.

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What we ended up with was approximately 200 pounds of pears. About a dozen friends have come over to grab what they needed: for tarts, cider, jams or snacking. The remaining I’ve processed over the last few weeks as the pears have transformed from firm green pears to luscious, yellow pears with plenty of juice.

Our house has brought us many gifts some more delightful than others (I’m looking at you ugly travertine tile). I’ve joked that we are going to have a Very Peary Christmas.

Green Cherry Tomato Chutney

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I swear I cook and eat more than tomatoes. It’s just that tomatoes are so versatile! Here we are at the end of the season and our tomato plants have finally exhaled their last gasp of fruit. Instead of debating when and if the first frost will hit, I picked the remaining green cherry tomatoes for chutney. I’ve really come to love ‘putting up’ the last few years. All that work in the spring prepping the beds, watering, weeding and watching with anticipation for the precious fruit and vegetables to actually bear fruit. Then, in September, those unripe tomatoes become the last kids picked for kickball until the ‘canner’ comes along to save them. Saved indeed. This chutney has been eaten on chicken, on eggs and nibbled right out of the jar. I made a jar batch so expand as needed.

Green Cherry Tomato Chutney

1 pound green cherry tomatoes, halved
1 hot chile pepper, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon brown mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ground dried pepper, cayenne or Aleppo
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Place all of the ingredients into a nonreactive pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the tomatoes are completely broken down. Mash with a spoon as needed. The texture should be similar to a marmalade. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into hot, sanitized, jar, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Check for air bubbles, wipe the rims, and seal. Process for 10 minutes, adjusting for elevation.

Enjoy!

Cherry Tomato Tatin

It’s near the end of the summer and I have cooked and eaten tomatoes in just about every form possible. Save this one. I originally made this dish for a fifteen person brunch we hosted Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to serve vegetables but didn’t want dinner vegetables. My fondness for Tarte Tatin abounds so why not combine my love of the tatin and tomatoes?

I was headed to my annual bookclub retreat. We rent the large house at Summer Lake Hot Springs (go! if you ever find yourself in central/eastern Oregon), read, soak, eat, rest, laugh. And repeat. It’s an endless weekend of big skies, meteor showers and dear friends. This was one of my dishes for Saturday night’s dinner.

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This recipe is adapted from La Tartine Gourmande.

I use a 8-9 inch cast iron skillet

Crust: I’ve used a store bought crust and a simple pate brisee. In a pinch the store bought works but it’s worth the effort to make dough. See below for crust recipe. Start the dough at least one or two hours before the tatin.

Cherry Tomato Tatin

5 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon or basil
10 slices manchego cheese (though I substituted another sheep’s cheese)
Kosher salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 320ºF. I give my skillet a quick rub on the sides with butter, oil or spray oil to help with inverting later.
Heat two tablespoons of the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bay leaf and brown sugar. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should start caramelizing.
Add the vinegar (watch your nose!), season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 15 minutes longer. Remove from the heat and discard the bay leaf. Set aside.
In a bowl, toss the tomatoes with the garlic and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oi;, sugar. Season with salt and pepper.
Place the tomatoes, cut side down, in the skillet. Bake for 30 minutes until they look soft and wilted.
Roll out the dough slightly larger than the skillet. Increase the heat to 350º.
When I first made this dish I arranged all of the tomatoes so they would all be cut side down when the tatin was inverted. I wasn’t as particular this time and no one noticed. Top the tomatoes with the caramelized onions and chopped tarragon or basil. Finish with slices of cheese. Cover the skillet with the dough making sure to tuck the dough down the sides of the skillet. It’s not supposed to be perfect.

Make a few small holes on the surface of the dough with a fork. Place the skillet in the oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the crust is light brown in color.

Before unmolding the tatin, slide a butter knife along the edge of the skillet. Let the tatin cool for a few minutes before inverting onto a serving plate. with one hand, hold the plate in place with the other, grab the handle and flip.

Garnish with fresh arugula, a chiffonade of basil or as is with a salad.

Pâte Brisée Crust (from Julia Child)

A food processor with a steel blade is required for this recipe

1 1/2 cups cups AP flour (scooped and leveled)
1/2 cup plain bleached cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces chilled unsalted butter, quartered and cut lengthwise
1/4 cup chilled vegetable shortening
1/2 cup water

Put the flour, salt and butter into the processor and pulse until the butter breaks up. Add the shortening. While the machine is running pour in the water and pulse a few more times. The dough should look like a bunch of small lumps and hold together when pressed. If the dough is too dry, add water a few drops at a time.
Work the dough on a floured surface pressing it into a single mass. Form the dough into a flattened cake, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour or two.

Enjoy.

Uh oh! Here we go again.

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Is there anybody out there?

It’s early morning and the street is quiet. While I should be concentrating on baking a child, s/he is doing just fine without my intervention so to busy myself I’m here. Talking to you. Or you over there. Hi!

And why am I here? My mission? Ostensibly to find my voice. But also to share my love and nourish a few people along the way. If you know me, you know I love food and love talking about it and planning my next meal while washing dishes from the previous meal.

Let’s chat. I hope you like it here as much as I do.