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Pumpkin Apple Galette

Challah 017

When I saw this recipe for Pumpkin Apple Galette on the Food52 website, I knew I would have to make it during the Thanksgiving weekend. I always bake a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving, partly as tradition, and partly because, like turkey, stuffing and gravy, I never make pumpkin pie at any other time.

This galette has a layer of pumpkin filling topped with sliced apples and dried cranberries. Brown sugar and spices are combined and then divided between the pureed pumpkin and the sliced apples. I like this kind of shortcut…it makes sense and saves time. One thing I would do differently next time is to layer the dried cranberries under the apples, so they do not dry out in baking.

Challah 092

The warming spices, creamy pumpkin, and tart apples merge and offset the crunchy crust. I used a different crust recipe from here. The recipe was contributed to Food52 by Nicole who writes a beautiful food blog, A Local Choice, where she travels to a destination within 100 miles of Columbus, Ohio, focuses on an ingredient they are growing or producing, and writes a recipe based off that ingredient, in this case apples.

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I started reading the blog food52 a while back and was intrigued by their contests. If you’re not familiar with food52, it’s a forum for cooks to post and share recipes. One feature is a biweekly contest that solicits recipes for a certain theme, always beginning “Your Best…,” e.g., “Your Best One-Bite Party Snack.” I had to pass on the “Your Best Charcuterie” contest, since my family and I are pretty much vegetarians, but the next contest was “Your Best Walnuts and Sage,” so I decided to have a go. I was excited by the idea of two complementary ingredients and a thousand ways of using them together.

After scrolling through a mental Rolodex of possibilities, I finally hit upon the idea of a flat bread or pizza with carmelized onions, pears, walnuts, sage, and blue cheese. The results exceeded my expectations, melding the sweetness of pears, crunch of walnuts, tang of blue cheese, and undercurrent of earthy sage with the crispiness of the thin crust.  I submitted the recipe and waited. Actually, I checked the website a few times a day to see how many “views” my recipe had picked up. It was pitifully slow.

The editors of food52, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, test some of the recipes and choose two finalists that viewers then vote for. They also choose some entries that they ask members of the community to test to be “Editors’ Picks”. It’s a very democratic process, and from what I can tell so far, the contests seem like pretty friendly competition. The comments from the food52 community are supportive and generous.

To date, my flat bread recipe has received 53 “views” and 2 “saves.” It wasn’t chosen as a finalist or an Editors’ Pick, but I feel like I’m becoming a member of a community that’s very diverse, loves food, and supports one another.

Carmelized Onion, Pear, Blue Cheese, Walnut & Sage Flat Bread

1 Whole Wheat Pizza Dough*

2+ Tbsp. Olive Oil

2 Medium Onions

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Chopped Fresh Sage

2 Pears, cored and sliced

1/3 cup chopped Walnuts

2/3 cup crumbled Blue Cheese

I made pizza dough using Jim Lahey‘s recipe, substituting whole wheat flour for one third of the bread flour, but you can also use purchased whole wheat pizza dough. Oil a 13″ x 18″ rimmed baking sheet and press and stretch the dough out to fill the sheet.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F with rack in middle of oven. Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat and add onions and salt. Saute onions until golden brown and carmelized, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar and fresh sage.

Spread carmelized onions evenly over the dough, then top with pears, walnuts, and blue cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.

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Strawberry Almond Galette

A few years ago I was in the habit of baking galettes, both sweet and savory, from Baking With Julia. When I decided to set up this blog to join Tuesdays With Dorie, my husband suggested the name Galettista. It’s been several years since I’ve baked a galette, so it was time to revisit the recipe.

The sweet version in the cookbook is a baked fruit tart, using berries or stone fruits, or really, whatever is in season and available. I had two quarts of strawberries (not in season here, but from Florida, the land of endless strawberries.) The recipe cautions against using too many strawberries as they’re too watery. I decided to bake the galette with an almond cream filling topped with sliced almonds, and then serve with fresh strawberries.

Both the galette dough and the almond cream recipes are included in Baking With Julia. I rolled out the dough to about 12″ in diameter and spread it with the almond cream leaving about a 2″ border. I strewed sliced almonds over the cream and folded over the dough edges, pleating the border. A little turbinado sugar sprinkled on the crust added some sparkle and crunch. I baked the galette for 30 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

The galette is topped with sliced strawberries combined with a little cane sugar and allowed to sit until the sugar is dissolved.

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When I was growing up, both sets of grandparents, and actually, nearly all of my relatives, lived in the mid-west, while we lived on the east coast. We only saw my extended family when we went west every other summer. My father’s mother was nearly deaf when I knew her, and she didn’t speak much but smiled often. She spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and it felt like she communicated through food. This being the mid-west, the food we were served included a lot of meat, accompanied by jello salads, three-bean salads, and CheeseWhiz. But by far the culinary masterpiece of my grandmother’s kitchen was her apple kuchen, buttery and redolent of cinnamon.

My grandmother handed down the recipe to my mother, who passed it on to me. Last Friday I decided to pay this recipe a long overdue visit. It is handwritten, torn in half, and was stored in the front of a recipe journal that I stopped writing in some time ago. At first the recipe reads as odd. It calls for combining flour and butter as if for pie crust, although it is a yeast dough. This results in a relatively heavy dough, and I worried that it would not rise. Once mixed, it also calls for the dough to be chilled, but doesn’t specify how long. I wondered about the purpose of the chilling. Is it to make the dough firmer for shaping in the pan? Or so that the dough can be made the night before and baked the next morning? It does make a delicious coffee cake. Or does chilling the dough allow more flavor to develop?

The cold dough takes longer to double in bulk, since it has to reach room temperature before it begins to rise. I’m still not sure what the point of the chilling is, but either way the result was delicious. I realized that my worries were unfounded when it turned out as buttery and cinnamon-y as the memory of my grandmother’s.

Apple Kuchen

  • Combine 4 cups flour* and 1 cup butter*, and crumble as if for pie crust.
  • Soak 1 package yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Make a well in the flour mixture. Add yeast mixture, 2 Tbsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, 2 eggs, and 1 cup cold milk*. Stir and chill in refrigerator.
  • Shape dough in 9″ x 13″ pan. Let rise until double in volume. Cover with apple slices, dots of butter, cinnamon, and sugar.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

* I substituted whole wheat flour for one third of the flour and almond milk for the cow’s milk. The original recipe calls for shortening or butter and lard, but I used butter. The recipe above is for a full batch. I baked half in an 8″ x 8″ pan.

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