Golden Beets and Walnuts Tart

I have come to love beets. I even willingly drank a beet beer once. But the abundance of beets that inevitably comes from our CSA fills me with panic and dread as I try to figure out what I can do with them that my kids will actually eat.

I’ve tried making beet chips, which the younger kid seemed to like, but the older kid rejected because it still tasted too much like well, beets. I then put them in smoothies which the older kid liked but the younger kid rejected probably because it tastes too healthy. And although I think these were a success, I’m not feeding my kids cupcakes each week.

When last week’s share brought us our first bunch of golden beets, I hit the Internet up for some inspiration, searching for beet recipes my kids will eat. Among my search results was this beet, walnut, and chèvre tart. I figured at the very least, they might eat the crust without complaining and we’d call it good.

I adapted this tart in a few ways. It starts with swapping in some whole wheat flour in the crust, which you could say is to make it healthier but really, I thought the nuttiness of the whole wheat would complement the walnuts more. Next, I roasted the beets instead of steaming them, adding some flavor by throwing in some thyme sprigs. More color, as well as a healthful boost and frugal use of the beet tops was added by sautéing the chopped beet greens with the caramelized onions. Lastly, instead of chèvre, I used more kid-friendly Beecher’s Flagship cheese.

The result was gorgeous and glorious! But did my kids like it? Well, the older one picked up a beet suspiciously, asking what it was. My husband and I refused to tell her so she took a bite and gleefully declared it to be a carrot. We probably should have lived up the lie, but told her the truth. After that, her interest in the tart suddenly dropped off.
But the younger one? The one for whom it took 3.5 years before she’d willingly eat a strawberry? She begrudgingly declared it “half good,” but she also did not hesitate to eat more bites, greens and all. My husband gave me a high five on the sly. I’ll take that as highest kid praise when it comes to a hard sell like beets!

Golden Beets and Walnuts Tart

(Adapted from here. )

Tart Shell Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water

Tart Filling Ingredients
3 small beets, halved
Olive oil
2-3 thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
Beet greens, trimmed off of stems and finely chopped
2 tablespoons dry Sherry or whatever dry wine you have on hand
3 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
4 ounces Beecher’s Flagship cheese or a hard, nutty white cheese. Maybe gruyere or even a sharp white cheddar can work
1 cup chopped walnuts (Although I think pinenuts might be a nice swap.)
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Start by making the tart shell. In a food processor, add the flours, salt, and butter. Pulse 8-10 times, holding the button down for 2-3 seconds each pulse, until the butter is the size of small peas. With the processor running, add 4 tablespoons of ice water until the dough just comes together. Remove to a sheet of plastic wrap and clump together into a ball, drizzling more water if the mixture is too dry. Flatten the ball into a disk then wrap tightly in plastic. Chill for at least 30 mins or up to two days.

Preheat your oven to 375. Roll out dough to a 13 inch circle then carefully lay it over a 10 inch tart pan, pressing the dough up and into the sides. Cleanly cut off excess dough by rolling your rolling pin over the top and breaking off the overhanging dough. Place a large sheet of aluminum foil over the crust and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake shell on a baking sheet for 20 minutes, then remove from oven. Carefully remove the foil and set shell aside.

To make the filling, start by roasting the beets. Turn your oven to 400 degrees. Place beet halves on a sheet of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and top with thyme sprigs. Wrap tightly in foil and bake for 1 hour or until tender. Unwrap beets so they can cool a little.
Heat 1 tablespoon each of unsalted butter and olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Stir to coat in the butter and oil then cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 7 mins, stirring once halfway through cooking time. Remove lid and continue to cook onions until lightly caramelized, for me, that was about 15 mins more. Add a tablespoon of olive oil and the chopped beet greens, then crank up the heat to medium high. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add the sherry. Cook until greens are wilted, about 3-5 minutes. A lot of liquid will be in the pan. Using tongs, remove the greens and onions to a colander, squeezing out extra liquid as you do. When all of the greens and onions are in the colander, press on them with a wooden spoon to get rid of more excess liquid.
Set the oven to 350 and place the tart pan on a baking sheet.
Place the greens and onions in the bottom of the tart shell. Peel then thinly slice beats crosswise. Place them on top of the greens– you can layer them decoratively, if that floats your boat. In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk the eggs then add the 3/4 cup of cream, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Whisk together until combined then pour over the beets in your tart shell. Break apart the cheese into small crumbles and scatter over your tart.
Bake tart on the baking sheet for 20 minutes then scatter walnuts on top and return to the oven, baking for another 20 minutes or until the filling is firm but still slightly quivers. Remove from oven and let it sit for 10 minutes before scattering parsley on the top and removing the tart from the outside tart shell ring.

Yields 12 slices.
CSA count: 3 (golden beets, parsley, beet greens)
Kid rating (out of two empty plates): 1 empty plate

Notes for the working parent: I made and blind baked the tart shell, roasted the beets, and cooked the greens and onions over the weekend, storing the beets and greens separately in the fridge. I then assembled and baked the tart on a weeknight, giving me lots of downtime while it was baking to shop for workout clothes online, so you know, a relaxed, post-work cooking effort.

Advertisements

Beef & Turnip Pasties

Having grown up an airline brat, I can tell people that I’ve been to places like Italy, Hong Kong, France, and England; however, most of these trips were made when I was a kid with a kid’s typical palate, and therefore, I’m sad to say, I wasn’t particularly culinarily adventurous. I remember being in Rome but whining unless I got a plain cheese pizza. I remember being in Hong Kong and demanding American fried chicken from KFC instead of Chinese food. (There’s a story for a blog post some day involving my grandmother’s kindly housekeeper, her attempt to placate a bitching 4-year-old by making fried chicken, and instead terrifying said 4-year-old by killing the chicken in front of her.)

One foreign food memory instantly came to mind when My Kitchen, My World announced that the July destination was Great Britain. I remember being in a cafeteria style restaurant with my parents when I was maybe 11 or so. Hungry, but finding most of the options non-appetizing, my mother tricked cajoled me into eating a rather tasty looking savory pie. A sucker for buttery crusts, all I saw was the flakey pie topping and failed to see the little sign labeling it as steak and kidney pie. It wasn’t until we sat down at the table and I had taken a few bites when I saw the word “kidney” on the receipt. I freaked out, asking my mother if there really was kidney in the pie. My mother shrugged and waved her hand dismissively, saying that it was just the name. Gullible, I finished off the pie, but when I found out weeks later that there really was kidney in steak and kidney pie, I felt ill and think that was the beginning of my adolescent maternal resentment.

Well there’s no kidney in this dish, but that food memory made me think of trying my hand at making a savory British pastry for my MKMW submission. With shell peas and more turnips from the CSA, I thought that adding ground beef to those ingredients would result in a great filling for Cornish pasties. Pasties are handheld pies, believed to have been made from leftovers in order to be a cheap and portable meal for miners. I adapted a fast puff pastry recipe from King Arthur Flour for the pasty crust, swapping some cream cheese in place of some of the butter to add a little more tang to the crust. I then started to brown ground beef, but I had to pass the reins of cooking the filling over to John so I could nurse the baby, shouting directions to him from the living room. John either follows direction well or did a bang up job of interpreting my directions which were to saute the vegetables in butter, add back in the cooked beef, season the beef with Worcester sauce and seasonings, then make a slightly thickened sauce with flour and chicken stock. I got to jump back in to finish off the filling with a touch of cream and some fresh dill before folding them up in circles of the pastry dough. You’ll notice in the final plating picture that these pasties weren’t picture perfect: in a rush to get these in the oven so we could hopefully eat before the baby started her nightly colic crying, I didn’t crimp these suckers. They still look and tasted pretty darn good though. Sound complicated? Well, to sound like a smug mother for a second, if I can make them while juggling caring for a newborn, then what’s your excuse? Give it a try: the slightly creamy filling tastes light from the sweet peas and grassy dill, counterbalancing that flaky, buttery pastry shell. I promise it’ll be worth the effort.

Note: This puff pastry recipe is even faster and easier when made in the food processor. Just pulse the butter and cream cheese in the dry ingredients until you have fine crumbs, then process the sour cream until you see large clumps of dough, kind of looking like spaetzle. Instead of pasties, you can make this filling and then make small turnovers, following the directions in the KAF recipe regarding cutting the dough into 16 squares and using 1 tablespoon of filling in each square.

  • 1 recipe of “Fast and Easy Puff Pastry” substituting 4 oz cream cheese for 4 oz of the butter
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 16 oz lean ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 small to medium Tokyo Cross turnips, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb shell peas (or 1/2 cup fresh peas)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Worcester sauce
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, minced
  • 1 large egg, beaten

Make the puff pastry according to recipe directions, but substitute 4 oz of cream cheese for 4 oz of butter. While dough chills, make the filling. Start by heating canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, seasoning with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Drain off fat then set cooked beef aside. Add butter to pan and melt over medium heat. When foam subsides, add the turnips, onion, and garlic and saute until onion and turnips soften, about 10-15 minutes. Add the peas and continue to cook until bright green, another 4-5 minutes. Add back in the beef then mix in Worcester sauce. Sprinkle with flour and let cook for 1-2 minutes to get rid of raw flour taste. Mix in the chicken stock and simmer for 1-2 minutes then stir in cream, looking for a light sauce consistency. Stir in dill and adjust salt and pepper to taste. If you can, let the filling cool before filling pastry.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out dough to 16 inch by 16 inch square. Using a bowl as a stencil, cut circles, approximately 4 inches in diameter. Brush the edges of the circles with beaten egg then add approximately 1/4 cup of filling, just slightly off center, of each circle. Fold the edges of the dough together and crimp with a fork, then place on prepared baking sheet. Brush pasties with beaten egg and sprinkle with flaky sea salt if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.

Yields 4-6 pasties.

CSA Count: 4

Shell peas, Tokyo Cross turnips, fresh garlic, dill

Apple Danish Tart

It’s ∏ Day! Time to make pie! So why am I writing about a pastry that is part danish and part tart instead? Well, here’s an actual conversation from my geeky household to yours.

Me: It’s ∏ Day! I need to make pie.

John: You don’t make pie to celebrate ∏ Day. You make circular arguments and circular things.

Me: I’m making pie because it’s ∏ Day. There’s a circular argument for you. Besides, pies are circular.

John: No they’re not.

Me: Yes they are.

John: No they’re not. Everyone knows that pie are square.

Oy… I seem to fall into the trap of John’s bad pun setups all the time.

Shaking that off for now, let’s go back a little in time to when this tart was made. For Christmas, John gave me a mandolin! So exciting! So shiny! So sharp! So scary! My giddiness about using it equals my fear which is a dangerous combination, but I still look for opportunities to use it. With leftover puff pastry and cream cheese lying in the fridge, I thought I’d throw together a tart as another opportunity to practice my slicing skills.

I let the cream cheese soften before mixing in some almond extract, a little sugar for a touch of sweetness, and some lemon zest to brighten the flavors. This was then spread out over a square of puff pastry then I shingled my perfectly sliced apple pieces that had been mixed with my favorite combination of apple pie spices: cinnamon, brown sugar, a little lemon juice, nutmeg, and cardamom. Cut into square pieces, each bite was a combination of buttery, crisp, flaky pastry; slightly sweet and tangy cream cheese, and firm, juicy apple pieces.

And there you go: square pie for your ∏ Day.

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator over night
  • 2 medium honeycrisp apples, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 5 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured surface until it measures 12 x 12 inches. Place square on a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet. With a paring knife, lightly score a square about 1 inch inside the border (this will make the border rise, making a crust with a flat-bottomed center.)

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, and salt. Place the apple slices in a medium bowl and mix in the spice and brown sugar mixture until apples are coated. Take a taste and mix in lemon juice to taste. Set aside and let sit for 10-15 minutes.

With a mixer, beat together the cream cheese, granulated sugar, lemon zest, and almond extract until smooth and fluffy. Carefully spread this over the center part of the puff pastry, leaving the border clean of the filling (an offset spatula helps here.) Shingle the apple slices then drizzle with any juice left over in the bowl. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden. Remove to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into 3 x 3 inch squares.

Bailey’s Cream Cheese Brownies

I suppose I should wait until it’s closer to March 17 for writing a post about these brownies, but thanks to an early St. Pat’s themed dinner that we’re having with friends tomorrow, I have Bailey’s on the brain. Besides, who can’t use some pictures of chocolate to motivate you to finish your Friday quickly?

Okay, so this isn’t a picture of chocolate. Be patient with me. Besides, this picture is really important– you see that melted butter being poured into a bowl of brown sugar? That means that these brownies will have a chewy texture with hints of caramel and molasses to round out those rich chocolate flavors. Now here’s that promised chocolate picture:

I have to say that I’m pretty proud of these brownies– not only was it a pretty successful improvisation with baking, but it totally was a case of working with ingredients on hand, using up leftovers from other baking projects. Or maybe I was just really happy with these brownies because I was craving cream cheese brownies in the worst way and was ecstatic that I could make them happen. But really, who wouldn’t be happy with these brownies? Fudgy, rich brownie base that has little pockets of melted chocolate from the chips. Then there’s that slightly crisp top that is swirled with tangy cream cheese and a touch of that sweet Bailey’s Irish cream to make them feel even more indulgent. You know you want a pan of these right now, and of course, you can make them again in a couple of weeks for St. Patrick’s Day– I wouldn’t blame you if you did.

  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1 tablespoon more, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder or leftover from your morning coffee pot
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips
  • 5 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 x 8 inch baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the brown and 1/4 cup granulated sugar then whisk in the melted butter until combined. Whisk in the eggs, coffee, and vanilla. In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk this into the wet ingredients until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.

With an electric mixer, blend the cream cheese, remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar, and the Bailey’s. Drop large dollops of the cream cheese mixture on top of the brownie batter, then using a knife, swirl the cream cheese with the brownie batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely before cutting.

Makes 16 brownies.

Peach Creme Fraiche Crumble Bars

Earlier this summer, when strawberries were at their peak, I had a spectacular culinary failure. I had dreamed of making a sweet tart with layers of strawberries and tarragon spiked pastry cream, finished with a balsamic syrup. I baked a nice crust, I had ripe, red strawberries, and although it made a mess and made me cough with its acidic smell and splatter, I made a nice-ish balsamic syrup reduction. The problem? The pastry cream. It was thick and chalky and a huge disappointment, making me feel like I’d wasted the other ingredients and effort.

So when I saw peaches still available at my local produce stand months later, I yearned to make another sweet and nutty tart but feared the pastry cream making process. Yet peaches need to be paired with something creamy, no? Well, I suppose they don’t need to, but it just isn’t a luxurious feeling dessert without some. I’d had recent success with making a crumble bar, so I knew what direction the crust should take and then it occurred to me– why not get the same creamy layer but even better, slightly tangy flavor with a shortcut from creme fraiche rather than make a pastry cream? After all, creme fraiche worked so nicely in this crostata and in this pie.

So I put together my crumble crust and sliced up my peaches. The peaches were tossed in a mixture of cinnamon, light brown sugar, and a dab of almond extract. I let the peaches macerate for a bit then added the juice to my creme fraiche to sweeten it slightly. That mixture was then spread on the slightly cooled, shortbread-like crust before shingling the peach slices in a hopefully pretty pattern. Topped with more crumble crust and baked, once cooled, and cut into, I had bars with delicious layers of buttery, sweet shortbread, firm peach slices, nutty crumble topping, but best of all– a melting layer of custardy, tangy creme fraiche. My one regret was not thinking of making these earlier with more flavorful peaches, but that regret will be easily remedied first thing next July when I revisit these crumble bars again… and again… and again…

  • 1 cup almond slices, toasted
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1 inch pieces.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus a pinch, divided
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 medium, ripe peaches, sliced into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 oz creme fraiche

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter pieces and pulse until mixture is crumbly and has the consistency of grated parmesan cheese. Add the egg and vanilla and pulse until distributed.

In a 13 x 9 baking pan, add half of the shortbread crust mixture and pat into a uniform crust. Refrigerate the rest until ready to use. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes while you assemble the filling mixture.

In a large bowl, toss the peach slices with brown sugar, cinnamon, almond extract, and pinch of salt. Let this sit for 15 minutes then strain the peaches from the exuded juices, mixing about 2 tablespoons of the juice into the creme fraiche. Spread the creme fraiche and juice mixture on top of the slightly cooled crust. Top with slices of peaches, making an even single layer. Mix almonds into remaining crust mixture then sprinkle on top of peaches. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until top crust mixture is golden. Let cool completely to room temperature before slicing into 2 x 2 inch squares. Yields 24 crumble bars.

Plum, Nectarine, & Almond Crostata

We don’t normally get fruit in our CSA, except for the bulk share (read: giant flat) of strawberries early in the season. Our CSA values locally sourced food over volume, so even though our CSA isn’t year round, I rather like that they give us only what they grow on their farm and fruit isn’t really on their crop list. That said, they have started offering a fruit share this year, distributing fruit from local orchards. We didn’t take advantage of it, being uncertain as to what the quality might be like. But when this year’s strawberry crop flopped and we took our first taste of the fruit that they substituted for our bulk share, let’s just say that I think we are totally regretting that decision.

In lieu of strawberries, we received 2 pounds of donut peaches and an additional 2 pounds of nectarines. The peaches were sweet and juicy– we’re talking stand over the sink juicy, so good that John declared them to be “life changing peaches.” I can read between the lines: that meant “you are not allowed to cook or alter these peaches in any way.”

Not to be misleading, but the nectarines were just as sweet, juicy, and delicious. The only difference was that something had to be done with them because the sheer volume of our CSA share that week was so overwhelming, the nectarines might spoil and go to waste if I didn’t use them in some way to extend their shelf life. When I sat them next to some plums I had bought a few days before, their contrast in colors told me that they wanted to play together. How can I ignore reasonable requests for fun from delicious fruit?

A crostata seemed like the best way to fulfill that request. A free form tart, it’s rustic and easy to make. I made a crust using ground almonds, flour, butter and sugar. I wanted a creamy layer to separate the crust from the fruit but wanted to keep this crostata light in feel so a rich and sweet pastry cream didn’t seem right. Instead, I remembered how delicious these pies were, (inspired by this recipe) and knew that creme fraiche would not only make a nice creamy, custardy layer but it would be wonderful flavor-wise since its tang would highlight the fruits’ sweetness without making the dessert too sweet. I added just a little bit of brown sugar and some lemon zest to the creme fraiche before spreading it on the crust. Slices of plum and nectarine were shingled on top of that then I folded in the sides of the crust. For a final bit of crunch and to intensify the almond flavor, I crumbled amaretti cookies on top of the freshly baked crostata.

It sure was difficult waiting for the crostata to completely cool down before cutting into this, but wait we had to do to give the creme fraiche time to set. It was so worth the wait though. The crust was nutty with the texture of shortbread. The creme fraiche was like a light custard, slightly sour with a bright lemony flavor that paired nicely with the firm slices of sweet plums and nectarines. Take advantage of this time of the season with the wide variety of plums available by making this crostata. I promise you that the memory of eating this will carry you through winter until next summer.

Note: Amaretti are crisp yet chewy almond and merengue Italian cookies. I bought mine for just a few dollars from an Italian specialty store. If you can’t find them, you can substitute crumbled almond flavored biscotti, almond cookies, or even Nilla wafers mixed with toasted almond slices.

Crust

  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
  • 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour (plus up to an additional 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Filling

  • 7 oz creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 ripe nectarines, pitted and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 3 ripe plums, pitted and sliced into 1/4 inch thick pieces
  • 1/2 cup amaretti cookies, crushed in a plastic bag into crumbs

In a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add the cup of almonds. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the flour, sugar and salt and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles grated parmesan cheese with pieces no bigger than small-sized peas. Turn on processor and add 1/8 cup of ice water until dough comes together, starting to form a ball. Add more water if necessary to help dough form, but do so sparingly, no more than a tablespoon at a time. Turn contents out onto a lightly floured surface and press together until smooth. Form into a disk and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface (or on a piece of parchment paper) until it is 12 inches in diameter, adding more flour if necessary to help dough roll out smoothly. If dough was rolled out on parchment, simply lift the parchment and set it on a baking sheet; otherwise, remove dough to a Silpat lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together creme fraiche, light brown sugar, and lemon zest. Spread the mixture on top of the tart dough, leaving a 2 inch border. Shingle the plum and nectarine slices decoratively on top then fold in the borders of the dough. Lightly brush the crust with egg and water mixture. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until dough is light brown and crisp. Remove from oven and let cool completely. Sprinkle amaretti crumbs on top before slicing into wedges. Yields 6-8 slices.

CSA Count: 1

Nectarines

Carrot & Summer Squash Galette

Carrots– who knew they could be so pretty and varied in flavor? My understanding of carrots is no longer limited to those overgrown, dark orange carrots, the kind only Bugs Bunny could love, that have likely sat in the refrigerated produce section for far too long. Instead, I love sweet, fresh carrots with bright green tops, or even better– brightly colored ones like these:

In addition to the colors, I love the subtle differences in flavor: the orange ones have that soft, vegetal flavor; the yellow ones taste like squash roasted with butter and brown sugars; the white ones taste crisp and sugary. But the one issue that I have with non-orange carrots is that those flavors aren’t pronounced, let alone present, unless they’re roasted. The orange carrots are the only ones that seem versatile whether you eat them raw, boiled, steamed, or roasted. The others are beautiful to look at, but I don’t taste them unless roasted in a hot oven.

So when I saw a recipe on Smitten Kitchen for a zucchini galette, I instantly thought of varying the colors and flavors of the vegetables by shingling some carrot slices in there as well. I thought that as the pastry shell bakes, then so would the carrots and the squash, getting light brown notes of caramelization. Since I’ve never made a galette before, I set about following the recipe. Yes, I know that this is a blog about living recipe free, but I still use recipes when trying new techniques. Besides, the description of a super soft and flakey crust from the recipe as adapted from Cooks Illustrated, was too hard to resist.

Since I already was adapting the toppings, I played around with the filling as well. Since carrots are heavier than squash, I figured that the galette could handle the extra cheese that the blog notes mused upon. I varied the cheese as well, using a mix of ricotta, mozzarella, parmesan, and aged goat cheese. I boosted the herb flavors by mixing in lemon zest and fresh thyme in the crust as well as adding fresh thyme to the carrots and squash. Lastly, to ensure that all the vegetables got a bath in the garlic oil so that they could roast evenly, I tossed the carrots and squash in the oil, rather than drizzling it on after the vegetables get layered on the cheese topping.

Notice that the first picture showed red and orange carrots but the picture of my topping mixture only shows yellow ones? Well, umm… there’s a simple explanation. The first time I tried making this galette, I ignored a crucial step of placing my rolled out dough on the baking sheet. Instead, I stupidly, rolled out the dough, piled on the cheese mixture and vegetables then could not peel it off to place on the baking sheet without making a huge mess. The combination of a hot kitchen and my nerves being shot from a long drive through rush hour traffic from Olympia and some crappy news resulted in a near meltdown of Julie from Julie and Julia proportions (only, I hope that my reasons for my bad mood are more justified than just histrionic behavior.) John luckily saved that first tart, but let’s just say the end result wasn’t too picturesque. I vowed to make this again the following week and here we have it. This was so delicious– the crust was indeed light and flakey, the cheese was soft and gooey but had the delicious tang of the goat cheese, and the vegetables were crisp yet sweet. A big wedge of this galette and a side salad made for a wonderful mid-summer dinner. I hope they will do the same for you too.

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Pastry:

  • 1.25 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in freezer for 30 minutes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and diced into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon of water

Filling:

  • 2 medium summer squash, sliced on a bias into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 3-4 yellow, red, or white carrots, sliced on a bias into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced (yields about 1.5 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated aged goat cheese (or you could use a soft chevre here)
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1 tablespoon each, chopped fresh basil and thyme
  • salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until butter is distributed throughout flour, leaving only pea-sized crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, ice water, lemon juice, lemon zest, and thyme. Add this wet mixture to the flour and butter and use a wooden spoon to stir together until just combined. Form dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

While dough chills, lay out the squash slices on a paper towel lined plate and season with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Let this sit for 30 minutes then dab away the released moisture with a paper towel. In a small bowl, combine the garlic and olive oil and set aside. Combine the carrot slices with the squash in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of garlic oil and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Season with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Gently toss with your hands to mix together.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with either a silpat silicone sheet or with parchment paper. In medium bowl, combine the cheeses with 2 teaspoons of the garlic oil mixture until mixed. Roll out the dough to 12 inch diameter and carefully move it to the baking sheet. Spread the cheese mixture out on dough surface, leaving a 2 inch border. Shingle the carrot and squash slices in a pretty pattern (or when you’re like me, do this until you lose patience then pour the remaining slices in the center and spread them out.) Fold the dough edges to meet the cheese, shaping into a rustic tart. Brush the crust edges with the egg yolk and water mixture then bake for 30-40 minutes or until crust is golden and flaky. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before sprinkling with basil and slicing into 6 wedges.

CSA Count: 3

Basil, yellow carrots, summer squash

Garden Count: 1

Thyme