Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Strawberry galette

Spring has sprung: I'm not sure why this is the case, but some things that arrive in our CSA box just last for ages--and not just the things you would think, like cabbages and leeks--but even lettuces. Sometimes we will have lettuces sitting in our crisper for weeks on end and when we finally get around to using them they are as lovely as can be.

Other items require immediate use. In the summertime, any tomatoes that arrive must go from box to mouth; another day and they are sauce-bound.

The most delicate of all, though, is the strawberry.

Last week we received a pound of small, perfect, crimson strawberries. Since I was looking for a distraction from work, I decided on the spot to make a strawberry galette.

I used this crust (on old standby, at this point) and just took a guess at the filling.  I must tell you, this ranked among the best of my crostatas/galettes in recent years (incidentally, the difference between the two seems to be primarily that one is Italian and the other is French--both are free-form, rustic tarts) and I must attribute it to the fruit. Nothing can trump a perfect strawberry; nor can anything ruin it, even my trademark manhandling of the pastry dough (I've really never quite mastered the delicate touch required for perfect crusts--they usually taste fine but I'm always left cursing while angrily patching them up.)

The galette was delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream, but equally good the next morning consumed at room temperature with a cup of good coffee. With strawberries in season, I suggest you put aside whatever you're doing at the moment and make this. You (and whoever you may live with) can thank me later.

Strawberry Galette

Crust (ingredients and directions courtesy of Giada de Laurentiis)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons ice water

1 lb ripe strawberries, washed, hulled, and cut into halves or quarters
1/4 scant cup of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the berries, plus 1 T. for sprinkling
1 T. flour
juice from a clementine or half a small orange or tangerine

To make the crust: Mix the flour, sugar, and salt in a processor. Add the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the ice water and pulse until moist clumps form. Gather the dough into a ball; flatten into a disk. (If the dough still crumbles and does not form into a ball, add another tablespoon of ice water.) Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. 

For the filling: Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the strawberries, sugar, flour, and juice in large bowl; toss gently to blend. Set aside for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, dust a large sheet of parchment paper with flour and, working quickly so that the dough does not get warm, roll out the dough on the paper to an 11-inch round. Transfer the dough on the parchment paper to a heavy large baking sheet. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the berry mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold the dough border over the filling to form an 8-inch round, leaving the berries exposed in the center. Pleat loosely and pinch the dough to seal any cracks. Brush the crust with the egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar.

Bake the galette until the crust is golden and the berries are bubbling but not disintegrated about 35-40 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack; cool for 10 minutes. Slide a metal spatula under the crust to free the galette from the baking sheet; cool to lukewarm, then serve with ice cream and/or coffee.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate, oh my

Back to basics: As much as I love elegant confections, there's nothing quite as satisfying as the all-American cookie--plain old grocery store ingredients, no chilling or rolling or sea-salt sprinkling. These little guys hit all the right notes: peanut butter, oatmeal, and chocolate chip, the holy trinity (can an atheist say that the day before Easter?)

I used this recipe and was delighted to see that the Brown-Eyed Baker suggested using my favorite cookie technique, stolen from Baking Illustrated, which is detailed here. It's only a bit of extra effort and the cookies always turn out magazine-pretty.

These kept very nicely in an air-tight tin for a number of days, longer than most cookies (or maybe I was just happy to keep eating them after they passed their peak. What's the difference?)


Girl dogs: This last week has been crazy-busy for me work-wise but lucky for Soph, her BFF Ruby came to stay with us, so she didn't even notice my reduced attention. Those two girls! They played and wrestled and snoozed, slurped water and chomped cookies. What a life!

Frances was more of an independent spirit--she liked other dogs perfectly well, but with the exception of a yellow lab named Sunny she saw once in awhile, we never really observed her playing so exuberantly. She was more of a person-dog. Sophie and Ruby are dog-dogs, like littermates, playing in that mouthy, puppy way, making their odd dinosaur noises, then collapsing in a heap. The other morning we woke to find them deeply asleep in the same bed, although they had started the night each on their own nest.


The Hungry Dog goes abroad...again! Well, it's a bit premature as no flights have been booked, but we're planning our first trip to Italy! We'll go in the fall for two weeks, most likely Rome and some time in Tuscany, although nothing is settled yet. Recommendations, please!