Back to Business [Heirloom Tomato Galette with Cornmeal Crust]
Well things have just been all over the place here lately, haven’t they?
I’ve spent this past week slightly under the weather and not wanting to do much but drink peppermint tea and watch The Real Housewives (of every city….). I’ve been sitting on a really delicious recipe for a few weeks now and I figure I’d better get it out to you before all your heirloom tomatoes are rotten or -gasp- frozen! Ok, maybe frozen is a little wishful thinking on my part. I’m anxiously awaiting the first snowfall. And now you know how terribly insane I am.
It’s a chilly day here in Ottawa. One that begs more for a slow cooked beef soup or creamy risotto than a Galette. But you know what? I have a Galette for you so you’ll just have to bear with me and enjoy it. I promise it will be worth it.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term ‘Galette’, it’s a general term in French Cuisine referring to an array of flat, round, free-form tarts. Rustic, unfancy, but so perfectly satisfying when piled with your favourite sweet or savoury fillings. There is something so unassumingly charming and welcoming about a flaky dough round, filled with fresh ingredients. That first slice into the tart, when the crust shatters like glass into little shards of buttery dough, always makes my heart flutter.
I had some beautiful Heirloom tomatoes sitting pretty atop my window sill that begged for something different than my usual heirloom tomato salad…. delicious as it is. A Galette was an easy alternative to my go-to dishes that really pushed the unique-looking tomatoes to new heights of flavour.
Heirloom Tomato Galette with Cornmeal Crust
adapted from Look I Made That
You could easily use any tomatoes you have on hand. Roasting them really helps bring out the most of any tomato.
adapted from Fine Cooking
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tsp sugar
1-1/4 tsp. salt
6 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup ice water
In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until evenly distributed but still has some large, visible pieces present.
Add the olive oil and slowly add in the ice water, mixing, until the dough starts to come together. Gather dough in your hands and shape it into a small disc. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour up to overnight.
3-4 large (or 6-7 small) Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced into 1/2” rounds
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
handful basil, sliced into ribbons
coarse salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375.
On a floured board, roll dough out into a round about the size of a dinner plate. See? Rustic means we’re not being fancy here.
Leaving about 1.5” around the edge of the dough clean, slather your Dijon mustard over the dough. Top mustard with grated Gruyere. Arrange tomatoes over the cheese and sprinkle with coarse salt, pepper and basil.
Carefully pick up the edges of the dough and fold it over the filling. If
the dough breaks, just pinch it back together and call it a day. There are fancier ways to fold the dough if you’re looking for something with a little more ‘ooooooh’ appeal, but I love the simple, messy look of this method.
Bake on a preheated pizza stone or baking sheet for 10 minutes or until browned on top. Reduce heat to 325 and continue cooking until tomatoes are gooey and baked, about 40-50 minutes.
Serve with some lightly dressed micro greens or a simple arugula salad to give a nice spicy contrast to the rich tomatoes.
Green Fist of Fury [Radish Pizza with Lemon-Anchovy Relish & Greens]
I’ve never been much of a gardener. My green thumb is more of a green fist of fury that wipes out anything that comes into contact with it. Ferns, flowers, vegetables, or otherwise. Once they’ve entered through my front door, their fate is set. I water too much. I water too little. I love too hard. And ultimately, they end up sagging, sickly and void of life. For shame.
With the sun rising bright on Friday morning, I found myself feeling hopeful. Feeling assured that this was the summer that I would plant something that would grow. Something I could plant from a seed, nurture and love. Something I could pull from the ground, eat and finally understand what it’s like to grow my own food. A skill I find often find myself feeling envious of.
With hope on my side, I strode confidently into the Home Hardware and picked up a bunch of seeds, soil and pots. Before 1pm had hit, I had planted seed upon seed, making sure to do so lovingly so as not to upset the horticulture Gods, and said a little ‘please oh please just let one of them sprout, grow and mature!”. With any luck, sometime in late July or early August, I will have bushels and bushels (maybe one plateful?) of cucumbers, jalapeno peppers, 5 varieties of tomatoes, spinach, sweet basil, wild flowers, green onions, and, my golden ticket, radishes.
I call them my golden ticket because radishes take 3-4 weeks to mature from seed to harvest. Instant gratification is something I am very fond of. Especially since I find myself staring at all the little pots, wondering when something will peek through the soil. Of course, it’s a futile effort. And a little pathetic on my part. The funny thing about my radish excitement is that as of Friday, I wasn’t ever sure if I liked radishes. They’re one of those vegetables that I’ve tried time and time again, but are never really memorable. Forgettable, mostly. With all this in mind, I figured if I was 3-4 weeks away from pulling the pinkish oblong orbs from the soil as my first real gardening success, I had better figure out if I liked them or not.
Because everything tastes better on a disc of thin, crunchy dough, I decided to add the peppery little bulbs to a pizza. Add to that a little anchovy-lemon relish, radish greens and some sharp, nutty Parmesan and I think it’s pretty safe to say, that no matter how many radishes my garden might throw at me, I will find a use for them. Especially if it means making, and better, eating more of this pizza!
Radish Pizza with Anchovy-Lemon Relish and Greens
makes two medium pizzas
Anchovies can usually been purchased packed in oil or salt in or around the seafood section. In this case, I used fillets packed in oil since I wanted to make use of the oil.
I wasn’t especially fond of the dough I tried out for this, so use your favourite dough recipe.
1 lb favourite pizza dough
Zest from two lemons
5-6 anchovy fillets
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (1 tsp if you prefer less heat)
2 bunches radishes, cleaned and sliced thin
2 bunches radish greens, cleaned and dried
Anchovy oil from tin
1 1/2 cups Parmesan
Place a pizza stone into the oven and sprinkle with cornmeal. Preheat oven to 450.
Add the lemon zest, fillets, and red pepper flakes to a mortar and pestle and grind to a coarse paste. Set aside.
Place dough on lightly floured surface and roll out the dough. One at a time, assemble the pizza on a cutting board sprinkled with cornmeal (this makes it easy to move the pizza from board to oven). Top each pizza with half the anchovy-lemon relish, half the radishes, half the greens and half the Parmesan. Bake each pizza, one at a time, until crust is deep golden and cheese is melted, about 6-7 minutes.
I served with some green olives on the side, which was lovely, but a cold beer or iced tea will do just fine.
Mother Knows Best! [Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze]
Let it be known, that I was the kid who recited “I will not be just like my mother” like it was etched on my skin. Not because I thought my mother wasn’t a perfectly acceptable role model, but I, like most kids/teens, liked to think I would be my own person. Do things differently, and change the little quirks that frustrated me so much as a teenager. “I’m not going to do it like that… ” I would say confidently, assuring myself that things would be different when I was old enough to call the shots.
Here I am, 25 years old, noticing daily that I am, in every sense of the word, my Mother’s daughter. From the way my hands look, to the way I answer the phone, my views on the world and relationships, and the tiny looks that I so often despised as a kid… it’s all eerily similar. And while it may not have been what I had hoped for when I was younger, I couldn’t be happier to be just like her. I remember her sighing at me with a smirk and saying “just wait until you’re older…” and it all makes sense now. Everything she instilled in me, all the life lessons passed down, they’ve all come back around.
I often find myself telling people that I would prefer to have boys when I decide to have children. Not because I don’t likegirls, but because I’m afraid that my potential daughters might be just like me. It took me twenty two (give or take) years to finally understand everything my Mum used to try and tell me. And it seems like an awfully long time to not see eye-to-eye. From where I’m sitting now, I have the utmost respect for her and the patience it took to raise two daughters who always thought they knew better.
My mom is wonderful, and kind hearted, and generous beyond belief. She not only taught me to be all those things, but also how to fend for myself and take care of others. A valuble lesson that I am forever thankful I aquired from her.
It’s hard to say thank you to someone who has molded exactly who you are, and unquestionably the person you had always hoped to be, but we always try our best. My mum is not much for presents on Mothers Day, but instead asks for our time, which we understand is more and more valuable as we get older, and start traditions, careers and home lives of our own.
Since the weather has been agreeing lately, we decided to put together a brunch for Mothers Day. Something small but satisfying we could enjoy over mimosa’s, coffee, and cheerful conversation on my balcony. My sister made the savoury portion of the meal, sharing a wonderful roasted vegetable frittata, bacon and fruit salad, and I was in charge of the sweets. I hmm’d and hah’d over scones, muffins, bread pudding… but none of them left me feeling excited. And if I wasn’t excited about it, why would anyone else be.
I recalled a recipe I came across on The Kitchn for an alternate take on the cinnamon bun minus the cinnamon. A sticky, sweet roll that housed a few of my very favourite things. Lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, cream cheese, nutmeg… all the most crucial players for a breakfast baked good, in my opinion. I can’t say I’ve ever been successful in any cinnamon bun endeavours, but I took a deep breath and assured myself that this was it. Time to step into the big leagues, push out any unfortunate memories of rock hard buns, and get down to business. I owed my mom that much.
There few words I can use to do these rolls the justice they deserve, but here are a few for starters; tangy, sweet, yeasty, warm, lemony, creamy. To say they were enjoyed would be a monstrous understatement. Each section was lovingly unraveled, the tangy lemon glaze slowly oozing down the freshly revealed dough, making a deliciously sticky mess of every one’s hands. Most of us enjoyed not one, but two rolls, which was surprisingly since we’re typically not much for dessert.
They looked good, tasted great, and were really not much harder than making a loaf of bread. I strongly urge you to try them. They might even convert you from a cinnamon-bun lover to a lemon-bun afficianado. I myself am a changed woman. And most importantly, my mum loved them just as much as I did.
Sticky Lemon Rolls with Lemon-Cream Cheese Glaze
Adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 12 large breakfast rolls
Note: Half of the lemon juice will be used in the lemon-sugar filling for the rolls. The other half will be used in the glaze.
Lemon Roll Dough
1 envelope or 2 1/2 tsp active yeast
3/4 cup milk, warm but not hot (about 100 degrees)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 zest from lemons
Sticky Lemon Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp freshly-ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
3 tbsp unsalted butter, very soft
1/2 juice from lemons
1/3 zest from lemons
Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 juice from lemons
Final 3rd of zest for garnish.
Zest and juice the lemons. Divide the zest into three parts. Divide the juice into two parts, and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes until frothy. With the mixer paddle, stir in the softened butter, sugar, vanilla, and one cup of the flour. Stir in the salt, nutmeg, and one part of the lemon zest. Stir in the eggs and enough of the remaining flour to make a soft but slightly sticky dough.
Switch to the dough hook and knead for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is elastic and pliable. If you do not have a stand mixer, you can stir the ingredients by hand, roll out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for 5-7 minutes until smooth and elasticy. See here for thorough instructions.
Spray the top of the dough with vegetable oil, and flip the dough over so it’s mostly covered in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise until nearly doubled, about an hour.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar with the nutmeg and ginger, then work in the second part of the lemon zest until the sugar resembles soft sand. Slowly pour in one part of the lemon juice, stirring. Stop when the sugar and lemon juice form a wet, clumpy mixture. You may not use all the lemon juice. It shouldn’t be gloppy.
Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with vegetable oil or butter. On a floured surface pat the dough out into a large yet still thick rectangle, about 10x15 inches. It might not be a perfect rectangle, but that’s ok.
Spread the dough evenly with the 3 tablespoons of softened butter, then pour and spread the lemon-sugar mixture over top. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch and pull the dough taut as you roll, to keep the lemon sugar firmly inside. Cut the long dough roll into about 12 even rolls with a sharp knife so as not to squish them. Pinch the bottom of each roll closed and place each one, open and cut side up, in the prepared baking dish.
Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for an hour or until puffy and nearly doubled. If you are making the day before, as I did, you can cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge overnight, up to 24 hours. In the morning, take them out and let them rise for an hour before you bake.
Heat the oven to 350°F. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a center roll reads 190°F.
(I was a little worried at this point since I expected them to be a little softer looking, but rest assured, you’re on the right track)
While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Add the softened cream cheese to a mixer or a bowl with a hand mixer, and cream until smooth. Add remaining lemon juice and cream until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a little at a time until you have a smooth, creamy glaze. Not as thick as frosting, but should coat a spoon (or your finger) with a good thick layer.
Finishing the Rolls
When the rolls are baked, smear them with the cream cheese glaze, and sprinkle the final remaining lemon zest over top to garnish. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, but be sure to serve warm when they are at their very best.
Lastly, if you haven’t spoken with your mom in a little while, give her a call and tell her you love her. It’s the best gift you can give. Short of a million dollars, that is.
Do(ug)h!! [Shaved Asparagus Pizza]
I’m on a roll here, folks. Two dough recipes in less than 48 hours that actually turned out the way they were supposed to. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m thinking about buying a lottery ticket.
With the recent success of my pot-pie crust, which was flaky and tender and not at all over-worked and tough like usual, I decided to keep the streak going and give my arch nemesis, the dreaded hard as a rock pizza dough, another shot. I don’t know why, but for some reason I just can’t manage to make a pizza crust turn out the way it’s supposed to. It’s always tough and way too crunchy to enjoy. Zut alors!
Now, I know that asparagus isn’t in season so it’s impossible to buy local and yaddayadda I’m terrible and so on… but dammit, I wanted to try this pizza. And sometimes you just have to be bad to get some good. (It’s a little sad that my idea of being bad involves buying California asparagus out of season. I’ve always told you I was a wild woman. I digress.) Perhaps my hankering for spring made the decision to buy less than perfect asparagus easier. Have you looked outside today?
If you like pizza but aren’t really into tomato sauce, which seems to be a lot more common recently, this pie is for you. It’s covered in a layer of cheese, topped with a grassy layer of shaved asparagus, and finished with some cracked black pepper and a drizzle of fruity olive oil. Now, doesn’t that sound good? You know what makes it even better? Minimal ingredients and it took me 10 minutes at most (that is, after letting the dough sit for a measly hour and a half) to throw together. Perfectly acceptable as a weeknight dinner if you get the dough started and do your running around while it’s resting.
If you don’t like asparagus, I think shaved fennel or parsnips would be a wonderful alternative.
Shaved Asparagus Pizza
adapted from Smitten Kitchen via Nervous Chef
Makes 1 thin crust 12-inch pizza
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water (may need 1-2tbsp extra)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 pound asparagus (7-8 big large spears)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 pound mozzarella, cut into small cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil (I used two, I like olive oil a lot)
Several grinds black pepper
Stir dry ingredients, including yeast, in a large bowl. Add water and olive oil, stirring mixture into as close to a ball as you can. Dump all clumps and floury bits onto a lightly floured surface and knead everything into a homogeneous ball.
Knead it for just a minute or two. Lightly oil the bowl where you had mixed it, dump the dough in, turn it over so all sides are coated, cover it in plastic wrap and leave it undisturbed for an hour or two, until it has doubled in size.
Dump it back on the floured counter and gently press the air out of the dough with the palm of your hands. Fold the piece into an approximate ball shape, and let it sit under that plastic wrap for 20 more minutes.
Sprinkle a pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal and preheat your oven to its top temperature (500 in most cases). If using a stone, preheat the oven with the stone in it. I usually prepare the pizza on a cutting board sprinkled with cornmeal so I can easily slide the pizza from the board to the preheated stone easily.
Prepare your asparagus by holding a single asparagus spear by its tough end, lay it flat on a cutting board and using a vegetable peeler, create long shavings of asparagus by drawing the peeler from the base to the top of the stalk. Repeat with remaining stalks. Sizes and thickness of shavings may vary, no need to be too particular. Discard the tough ends or save and freeze for future use in stocks.
Roll or stretch out your pizza dough to a 12-inch round. Place on cornmealed cutting board or movable surface. Sprinkle pizza dough with Parmesan, then mozzarella. Pile asparagus on top. Drizzle with olive oil and cracked pepper. Bake pizza for 10 to 15 minutes, or until edges are browned, the cheese is bubbly and the asparagus might be lightly charred.
Slice and serve. If you value your shape, don’t eat 4.5 slices like I did. This just in, I’m a heffer.
Crumbling Sunshine [Grapefruit Tart]
The term ‘just one of those weeks’ (or days, months, years…) has never rung more true or slipped more frequently from my lips than it has in the past two weeks. I’ve had to tell myself on numerous occasions that this winter is a true test of my patience, sanity and emotions. I hope I’m passing.
I think one main thing that’s keeping me down is the lack of sun these days. I don’t mind the cold. In fact, I like it. But I really do enjoy the feeling of the morning sun beaming warmly onto my face while walking to work. And more than that, it’s vital to my happiness some days. I just need it. My coworkers who have been lucky enough to witness my bleek moods lately would probably agree.
I woke up this morning frustrated with the icy, grey scene outside. I know I live in Ontario, I know this is what every single January/February looks like. No matter how many times as I tell myself that I won’t let it get to me this year, it always does. But alas, I do not control the weather. Yet. So I will just have to make do the best way I know how.
If I can’t feel the sun, you better believe I’m going to go leaps and bounds to be able to taste it. Thankfully in this case, leaps and bounds turned out to be more like tiny tip-toes. I love tip toes.
I had a few grapefruits laying around threatening to expire, so I put them to use in my quest for sunny flavour. I’m not a really big grapefruit eater, but I love grapefruit flavoured things. So when I came across a recipe for Grapefruit Curd, I knew it was just what I needed. Tangy, ever-so-sweet, and bright sunshine yellow. Made better only by the soft, buttery tart shell that housed it.
As you know, I don’t dabble much in dough without breaking into panicked sweats, but this recipe from Martha Stewart was just about impossible to mess up. I made it according to the directions, but thought the dough felt a little too sticky. I added a little more flour, over-kneaded it, fussed about with it too frequently to yield anything but a rock-hard crust… and yet it still came out perfectly soft, crumbly and delicate. That’s why she’s Martha Stewart and I’m cleaning curd up off my floor with a fork.
I managed to finish the tart, take some photos and have a slice before the incident, which only made more clear that the universe is not done testing me. While in transit from the counter to the fridge, I watched, mouth agape and unable to do anything but gasp, as the tart buckled in the middle and feel to both sides in a heap of gooey curd on the floor. Nothing to see here. Definitely not a metaphor for my life as of late . No big deal at all, right? Nothing a glass of wine, a deep breath and a clenched fist can’t fix.
If you’re missing the sun, or even if you’d just like a little more of it, this tart will fix you right up. It’s like having a pina colada on the beach. Sort of. Just try not to break your sunshine.
adapted from Honey and Jam & Martha Stewart
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
1 1/4 - 2 cups cups all-purpose flour (I used about 2)
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds + 2 tbsp
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg yolk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Butter an 11-inch fluted tart or quiche pan with a removable bottom, sprinkle 2 tbsp of ground almonds into the pan and shake around to cover bottom and sides.
Lightly whisk flour and salt together. Pulse almonds with confectioners’ sugar in a food processor until finely ground.
Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in almond-sugar mixture. Add yolk and 1 1/4 C flour. Beat until combined. If dough is still too sticky, add more flour slowly until it’s firm but still slightly sticky.
Press dough evenly into bottom and up sides of prepared pan. Prick dough all over with a fork. Freeze for 20 minutes.
Bake crust for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. Press down bottom and up sides if needed. Bake until golden brown, about 13 minutes more. I pressed the tart shell down twice during cooking. Transfer pan to a baking sheet, and let cool for 15 minutes.
8 large eggs yolks
1/2 cup freshly squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of 1 ruby red grapefruit, finely grated
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
Combine yolks, grapefruit juice, lemon juice, half of the zest, and the sugar in a saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and taking care to scrape the sides of the pan with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve unto a medium bowl. Stir in the remaining zest. Pour into shell. Let sit at room temperature (or fridge) until set, about an hour. Optional: Dust with confectioners sugar.