Monday, July 15, 2019

Strawberry Galette

This is the simplest way to put a fruit pie together. If you’ve got some pie dough on hand (even a store-bought one will do) you can complete it in a flash. There’s just some rolling, slicing, filling, and folding to do. Oh, and I added a quick bit of spreading, too, in the form of a cream cheese layer between the sweetened berries and the crust.

I took the idea for the cream cheese layer from Sister Pie by Lisa Ludwinski. A lot of fruit pies in that book start with a thin layer between pie and fruit. I spread mine on a little bit thicker, which added some tang and richness to my galette without making you think you’re eating cheesecake. I really does seem to help keep the crust from getting soggy as well.

I also borrowed my crust formula and method from Sister Pie. The book makes pie crust drudgery into a labor of love, and with the proper care and attention, the resulting pastry is well worth the added effort. I highly suggest you get a hold of this book and see for yourself! That being said, this crust dough, and the one in this post or this post will certainly do just fine for your Strawberry Galette. I made the full recipe for Ludwinski’s “All-Butter Pie Dough”, which is enough for two crusts (or a top and a bottom crust), made this quiche with one of them, and stashed the other in the freezer to await my pie-making pleasure.

And so it was ready for me when I found local strawberries at their sweet, juicy peak. I didn't need to add much to make this wonderful deliciousness - bursting, exuberant summer captured in a golden pastry! Pure, sweet strawberry satisfaction!

You could add some other flavors like fresh basil, lemon verbena, or mint. You could adjust the sugar to taste. You could add other in-season berries or make a whole other fruit galette (see recipes listed at the bottom of the page). Just don’t let summer go by without enjoying something as much as I enjoyed this luscious strawberry dessert!

Strawberry Galette with Cream Cheese
Egg wash – a mixture of beaten egg and a little water, milk, or cream -  and a sprinkling of coarse sugar aren’t strictly necessary, but they do help make a shiny, golden, tasty crust. I also like to bake a galette like this until the crust is quite dark and crisp.

3 cups hulled and sliced or chopped fresh strawberries
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1 single-crust pie dough, unbaked, kept chilled until ready to roll out
¼ cup cream cheese, softened
Egg wash and coarse sugar for the crust, if desired

1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a sheet of parchment paper.

2. In a medium-size bowl, combine the strawberries, lemon juice, cornstarch,  and sugar. Toss together to combine well. Set aside.

3. On a well-floured surface, roll out the pie dough into about a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the parchment-lined baking pan.

4. Spread the cream cheese evenly on the dough, stopping about 2 inches from the edges all the way around. Mound the berry mixture on top of the cream cheese, stopping where you stopped spreading the cream cheese.

5. Fold the uncovered edges of the pastry up over the strawberry mixture, crimping and slightly overlapping as needed. The folded pastry should just form a rim encasing the fruit around the whole diameter of the pie, not cover all of the filling.

6. Brush the egg wash over the folded crust if desired and sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake at 425 F for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is a dark golden brown, the filling is bubbly, and the berries are soft. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into wedges and serve warm or completely cooled. Whipped cream and vanilla ice cream are good accompaniments. (This should go without saying!)

Makes 6-8 servings.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Friday Night

I am particularly enjoying this Friday night. I’m doing almost nothing, but reading, eating graham crackers (leftover from a night of s’mores), and drinking cocoa (yes, even in summer), and that all feels good. It’s a handful of tranquil hours amid some weeks of storminess. And last night’s short sleep disturbed by the mini-explosions of local freedom enthusiasts hasn’t quite claimed its payoff yet.

**I’m spending the evening reading weird and wonderful works, particularly Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison. Novik’s Uprooted is one of the very best books I’ve read in the last year, and on my list of all-time fantasy favorites. So far, I’m enjoying Spinning Silver just as much. The narrative is lyrical and the setting evocative of the kind of magical places I imagined as a kid.

I stumbled upon The Worm Ouroboros at the local library when I went into the sort of back-corner aisle of fiction shelving that houses the authors beginning in “E”. I wandered there while waiting for a library worker to finish shelving in the area I really wanted. (“N” for Novik.) Now that I’ve begun reading this book, I’m wondering if I was mystically drawn there by some kind of spooky library magic or otherworldly sprite. This book, which was published in 1922, is delightfully weird and fantastical. It reads like the deepest ancient folklore spoken by Shakespearean players. I find it slow reading, not ponderous, but detailed, and definitely not boring or tiresome. There’s a chapter titled “The Wrastling for Demonland.” And the chapter lives up to that promise! People, there’s a blurb of praise from J.R.R. Tolkien on the cover. How have I never heard of this book before? Spooky library magic! Anyway, I’m enjoying it so far.

**I wandered out of town yesterday and enjoyed a bit of this

And this (Coconut Almond Fudge in a waffle cone, yes, please.)

**I’ve been cooking relatively simple things featuring fresh vegetables from the farmer’s market and a big shipment of heirloom beans I ordered from Rancho Gordo. I like to make a big pot of beans, something like this one, either on the stove or in the slow cooker and serve them poured over rice or other grains and garnished with avocado, cilantro, scallions, or a homemade salsa like this one or this one. I’m the type of person who finds trying different kinds of beans fun, and Rancho Gordo really sells a high-quality product. (They don’t know me nor are they giving me anything to say that.)

**My garden is doing quite well with all the heat and moisture we’ve had. The Sungold cherry tomatoes are promising to be prolific. I am entertaining big dreams of making lots of this pasta dish and this pasta dish and this tart

The other tomatoes I’ve planted are producing green fruits, too. I may have been a bit greedy when planting this year. Including the Sungolds, I planted six different varieties of tomato, both slicers and cherry tomatoes. I may be obsessed. There are also thriving cucumber plants and chile peppers, so Gazpacho is coming! I am obsessed and impatient.

Actually, I’m a tiny bit proud of myself for accomplishing as much with my garden as I have so far. The Day Job has eaten my life at an unhealthy level, and, frankly I’m struggling to see the concept of work-life balance as anything but a sick joke. Homegrown tomatoes and cucumbers and summer and winter squashes and lots and lots of herb are something to look to as both a pleasure and an accomplishment.

I’m looking forward to a whole weekend off, a whole two days with the potential for many more pleasurable accomplishments and accomplished pleasures.

Happy summer! 

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

5 Fabulous Potato Salads

A resident at the facility where I act out The Day Job brought up to me today that the year is half over already. I think I kept my shriek of existential dread internal as I agreed with her and made some comment about finally getting used to writing 2019 on things. I then salved my wounded soul with the thought that weather-wise and botanically speaking, there’s still a lot of summer left at least. And lots of summer eating including, among other delightful things, potato salads.

Potato salad can be anything from comfort food to summer herb and vegetable showcase. Here are some links to potato salad recipes from The Messy Apron Archives that represent a variety of needs and tastes. I hope they inspire your summer gathering menus, especially for the upcoming extra-long 4th of July weekend.

Many of us Midwesterners think of creamy mayonnaise-based potato salads first and foremost, and we each probably have our favorite recipe. Here’s the way I like to make Classic Potato Salad, with bell peppers and hard-boiled eggs. You can certainly adapt it, and even use this vegan mayonnaise to change things up.

This Potato Salad with Chinese Flavors has added bacon and a dressing punched up with soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. The fiery Chinese hot mustard is the secret ingredient that makes it extra special.

This Lemon Herb Potato Salad features plenty of fresh herbs and lemon and has a lighter, mayo-free dressing. I love to make it when my herb garden is in full swing.

These last two recipes really put the “salad” in “potato salad” with their inclusion of lots of vegetables. Potato Salad with Fresh Vegetables and Olives features my favorites of high summer: cucumber, cherry tomatoes, and bell peppers, plus fresh basil, too.

And Potato, Broccoli and Green Bean Salad with Tarragon Mustard Dressing goes extra-green with veggies. The zesty Dijon dressing laced with tarragon takes it in a different direction than other creamy potato salads.

Don't let existential dread cloud your summer fun. Comfort yourself or your summer dinner party guests with a customized potato salad that suits your personal needs and enjoy!