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ctober
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Leek Bacon and Gruyere Tart


This frenchy-french-french tart has the lusciousness of fall written all over it.  Spectacular for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner, it is also glorious with a crisp green salad.  And it freezes really well.  So with it almost taking as much work to make one as to make two, do just that and stock yourself with a fast food gift in your freezer for some bleak mid-winter eve.

This can of course be made vegetarian, and equally good, by omitting the bacon, and substituting two tablespoons of butter, for the bacon fat, for sauteing the leeks.



Leek Bacon and Gruyere Tart
by Catie Schwalb

makes one 9" tart.

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une
24
Fresh Strawberry Pie


So here is another recipe handed down from Catherine the Great.  No, not the Empress of Russia, but my maternal grandmother--one of my first cooking influences, and for whom I am named.

I make this pie at least once a year.  I can't keep myself from it as soon as I see quarts of local strawberries showing up on the tables at the farmers' markets.  It is simple as pie (pun intended).  A great buttery crust, plump, fresh, raw strawberries, and a quick jammy glaze.  Fruit and high quality carbs:  two tastes that should always go together.  It is reminiscent of toast and jam, strawberry short cake, or dare I say...pop tart?

Since the ingredients are so sparse, the quality of the products you use is paramount.  Make a wonderful, flaky, homemade pie crust, use a golden farm-fresh egg and great butter, and above all, use amazing strawberries at the height of their season.  It just won't be that great otherwise.  Also, because the strawberry flavor can vary a lot from sour to sweet, start slowly with the sugar and the lemon juice in the glaze, and adjust as necessary depending on the flavor of the strawberries you are using.

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ay
12
Asparagus Ricotta Galette


As hinted at earlier this week, asparagus is bustin' out all over on our micro-farm.  One of the very first signs of a long season of fresh food from the gardens, this perennial faithfully returns each May, basically without us having to do a thing.  (That's my kind of garden vegetable!)

Since it is never better than right now, we'll eat just-picked asparagus almost every night for dinner for the next several weeks.  Then finally, when we can't stand it anymore, which fortunately is right about when the asparagus season peters out, we'll put our asparagus habit to bed for another 11 months.  Once you've had it this fresh and this good, you are spoiled for anything trying to masquerade as asparagus in the rest of the year.

But it is a challenge to keep it interesting in the dinners ahead.  Even as good as it is, when having asparagus almost nightly, sauteing, grilling, and soup-ing gets old quickly.  This savory galette was a very welcomed change, and was gobbled up quickly last evening.  It would also be wonderful for brunch, or cut in small squares for late spring hors d'oeuvres. I have been on a galette with corners kick this year, but feel free to form it in the more traditional round shape, or any free-form shape that works for you and your stalks.


Asparagus Ricotta Galette, with Caramelized Shallots and Lemon Zest.
By Catie Schwalb

Makes one 9" square or round galette.

1 single pastry crust (half of the recipe posted here, in my "Pie Crust 101" piece)
1 large bunch fresh asparagus, about 8 ounces, washed and woody ends trimmed.
1 1/2 cups shallots, sliced thin (4-5 large shallots)
1 cup ricotta (here's my recipe for homemade fresh ricotta)
1 tablespoon lemon zest, from about one lemon
2 eggs
salt
olive oil, for roasting and sauteing

Heat the oven to 350 F.

Make the pastry crust, as described here, and allow to rest for thirty minutes in the refrigerator.

Lightly toss asparagus with about a tablespoon of olive oil and a light sprinkling of salt.  Roast on a baking sheet in the oven until about half way roasted.  For pencil-thin asparagus this took six minutes.  Roast longer for thicker stalks.  Do not roast all the way, as they will continue to cook when the galette is baked.  Remove from the oven and set aside.

Increase oven temperature to 425 F.

In a wide saute pan, heat one tablespoon of olive oil on medium high heat.  Add shallots and stir to coat with oil.  Turn heat down to medium-low and slowly cook, stirring every few minutes, until fragrant, light amber, and caramelized, about 15 minutes.  Lower the heat if they start to brown too quickly.  Set aside.

Combine ricotta, lemon zest and a good pinch of salt.  Taste, and adjust salt if necessary.  Add one egg and mix thoroughly.

Roll out pastry dough to 1/4 " thin and transfer to a baking sheet, either by gently folding in quarters, or rolling around your rolling pin.  Spread a thin, about 1/4" layer of the ricotta mixture on the dough, leaving at least an inch boarder of dough around all sides.  Top with caramelized shallots, and then asparagus.  Fold dough up and over on all edges and crimp where necessary to hold in place.

For a more golden crust, mix one egg with a tablespoon of water, and using a pastry brush, gently brush perimeter of the crust with the egg wash.

Bake at 425 F for 35-40 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.

 


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ebruary
17
Blood Orange and Clementine Galette


Soon after I finished culinary school a wise and wonderful chef and cookbook author asked me, as I was first meeting her, what kind of food do you cook? I was a little stumped.  I was just out of a year of cooking little other than classical french cuisine.  And a year of cooking predetermined recipes that I had to master, in order to learn said classical french cuisine.

Eating locally, and seasonally, and knowing where my ingredients come from are always paramount when I cook, but beyond "farm to table", I didn't really have a ready response as far as my personal style with food.

But after some introspection, I think at least one of my approaches to cooking, though perhaps somewhat obvious, is to get the finest possible ingredients, at the height of their season or freshness, from the best possible sources, and then:  get out of their way.  Or compliment their strengths that are already therein, rather than transforming or imposing.  At least that's the goal.  How can I possibly improve upon a homegrown, just-picked Jaune Flamme heirloom tomato, drizzled with exceptional olive oil and a hit of crunchy fleur de sel?

This recipe does just that.  Blood oranges are in season right now, and at the height of their glorious flavor.  They are a stunning deep garnet color, with a taste that ranges from orange to raspberry to grape.  A phenomenal homemade pastry crust, along with the roasted fruit, this galette reminds me a lot of my great grandmother's jam-filled thumbprint cookies, or a very sophisticated Pop-Tart.  And brings some necessary brightness to a dull week of winter.

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arch
16
Baked Apple Galette


I have some Mutzu apples from a recent trip to the farmers’ market.  These apples are softball-huge and bright lime green, and immediately caught my attention as I was perusing the Migliorelli Farm stand.   They are such gorgeous specimens it seemed blasphemous to peel them and cut them up into chunks—or toss them with a lot of sugar and seasoning.

This recipe is sort of a cross between an apple dumpling, rugelach, galette, with probably a little hamentashen thrown in there too.   I love that it really just puts this outstanding apple on a pedestal (or buttery crust), to enjoy almost bare naked.  It is simple and rustic, and great by itself—but even better with a scoop of my husband’s homemade vanilla ice cream.




BAKED APPLE GALETTES

By Catie

Serves 4

For the crust:

2 cups AP flour

2 TBS sugar

¼ tsp salt

4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed

1 large egg, mixed with 1 TBS cold water

additional cold water as needed

For the filling:

2 large baking apples, cut in half lengthwise and cored

2 TBS dried currents or raisins

2 TBS calvados, brandy, eau-de-vie, or hot water

2 TBS pecans, toasted and finely chopped

2 TBS sugar

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Line a baking sheet with a silpat, parchment paper, or lightly butter.

Put currents and brandy in a small bowl to soak for at least 10 minutes.

Add dry ingredients to food processor, and pulse to combine.   Add butter cubes to processor, and pulse until rough and crumbly, but uniform in texture, like coarse sand.  Add egg mixed with water, pulse to combine.  If needed, add cold water, a few drops at a time, just until dough comes together in a ball.  Remove from food processor, knead just a few times by hand to make sure the dough is combined throughout.  Section into four pieces, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Mix pecans sugar, pecans, cinnamon, and drained currents gently together.

Roll out one of the balls of dough to 2” wider in diameter than the apple half.  Transfer dough to baking sheet.  Spoon ¼ of the pecan-current mixture in the center of the dough.  Place one half of an apple, cut side down, on the mixture.  Gently fold the edge of the dough, overlapping itself in several places up and around the apple.  Repeat for remaining 3 galettes.



Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes.  Reduce oven to 350°F and continue to bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes more.  Rotate baking sheet once during baking.



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Catie Baumer Schwalb is a chef, food writer and photographer, who splits her life between the city and the country. Not too long ago Catie was a New York City based actress and playwright for more than a decade. She has her Master of Fine Arts from the National Theater Conservatory, and her Grand Diplôme in classic culinary arts from the French Culinary Institute in New York City. ... Read More

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