Tomato and Cheese Galette

Posted in Food, Meals, Recipes by ameliadean on July 10, 2010

I first encountered a galette last January, while enjoying the free samples at a Parisian boulangerie. Unsuspecting, I selected a small wedge of what appeared to be almond tart. It was beyond good.

A bit of research revealed that I had tasted a galette des Rois, or King Cake, which is traditionally eaten on the day of Epiphany. It consists of a flaky, pastry crust and a dense layer of moist almond filling (also known as fragipane), and is, like I said, beyond good. Imagine my disappointment when I learned that these seasonal creations are sold in French patisseries for roughly two weeks, and cannot be purchased outside of January.

I was comforted to discover that galettes come in many shapes and colors, all of which can be made at home. While I have yet to attempt the galette de Rois, I have fallen in love with its many, less glamorous incarnations. Better desribed as free-form tarts, these simple creations begin with a single sheet of pastry. After adding your toppings of choice, you fold the pastry edges over the filling in an attractive, imperfect way.

Galettes can be savory as well as sweet, filled with any combination of vegetables, cheeses, and herbs imaginable. Depending on the contents of your galette, you will want to make either a sweet or savory pastry dough. For this basil, onion, tomato and cheese galette, I decided to follow bay area chef David Lebovitz’s cornmeal galette dough recipe. The cornmeal adds a nice texture to the final product, but also makes the dough a bit more difficult to roll out. If the dough tears, simply pinch it back together.

Cornmeal Galette Dough

From Fine Cooking (40, pp. 68-73 August 2000)

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. sugar
1-1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
3 Tbs. olive oil
1/4 cup ice water

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Cut in the chilled butter using a stand mixer, a food processor, or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed but still in large, visible pieces. Add the olive oil and ice water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Gather the dough with your hands and shape it into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Tomato and Cheese Galette

Adapted from Alexandra’s Kitchen

2 Tbs. olive oil
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1/2 bunch basil, washed, dried, and chopped; plus 10 whole leaves
1 recipe Cornmeal Galette Dough (see above)
5 small ripe tomatoes cut into slices, drained on paper towels
3 oz. Mozzarella, Comté or Gruyère cheese, shredded
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp. milk or cream

1. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 min. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic and chopped basil, and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.

2. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet, preferably one without sides, with kitchen parchment. (If your baking sheet has sides, flip it over and use the back.)

3. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 15-inch round, lifting the dough with a metal spatula as you roll to make sure it’s not sticking. If it is, dust the surface with more flour. Transfer it by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it on the lined baking sheet.

4. Spread the onion and basil mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border without filling. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer over the onions and season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the tomatoes. Lift the edges of the dough and fold them inward over the filling, pleating as you go, to form a folded-over border. Pinch together any tears in the dough. Brush the egg yolk and milk mixture over the exposed crust.

5. Bake until the crust has browned and the cheese has melted, 35 to 45 min. Slide the galette off the parchment and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 min. Stack the remaining 10 basil leaves and use a sharp knife to cut them into a chiffonade. Cut the galette into wedges, sprinkle with the basil, and serve.

Warm Butternut Squash Salad

Posted in Meals, Recipes by ameliadean on May 11, 2010

This salad was inspired by a visit to the french café L’eau a la Bouche on London’s trendy Broadway Market. I love the idea of a warm salad, and am an avid admirer of this one in particular. The sweet butternut squash and bitter rocket compliment each other perfectly. Add some semi-caramelized red onions and Pecorino shavings and you have a dangerously good dish on your hands.


1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into chunks

A pinch of hot pepper flakes

2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 dash of balsamic

A good amount of rocket

2 red onions

1 chunk of good cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil, and cover with a thin layer of olive oil. Alternatively, use a non-stick spray.

2) Peel butternut squash with a strong peeler. Remove stem and cut in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, carve out the squash seeds and pulp from the central cavity. Cut squash flesh into medium sized chunks and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of chili flakes. Dump into a baking tray, cover with foil, and put in the oven for 30-50 minutes. Squash should be tender when finished.

3) Slice off the roots and peel 2 red onions. Cut into thin slices lengthwise. Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Stir in onions so that they are coated in oil. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring continuously. Add a pinch of salt and an optional pinch of sugar. Lower the heat and cook for another 10-20 minutes, or until browned. Add water if onions start to burn or stick to the pan. At the end of the cooking process, add several tablespoons of balsamic to deglaze the pan and add flavor.

4) Assemble a bed of rocket on your plate. Add hot squash and top with semi-caramelized onions. Grate large slivers of pecorino or parmesan on top. Serve while warm, preferably with fresh bread!

Easy Polenta, Fried Egg, and Greens

Posted in Meals, Recipes by ameliadean on May 3, 2010

The following recipe ticks a number of essential boxes. With a nice protein-fat-carbohydrate ratio and good sources of iron, calcium and folic acid, this dish is as nutritious as it is tasty. If you decide to use instant polenta, like I did, you will have a well-rounded meal in less than ten minutes. It’s dead cheap, dead easy, and a perfect dinner-for-one.


1/2 cup instant polenta

1 1/2  water

1 or 2 cloves of garlic

1 bunch fresh chard and/or other seasonal greens

1 free range egg (preferably room temperature)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Tablespoon salt of vegetable stock

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

*1/4 cup grated cheese and fresh herbs of your choice

I am not going to make this meal any more complicated than it should be. This dish can be assembled in three easy steps, all of which can be done simultaneously. Think of it as a test in multitasking!

1) Make your instant polenta. Add salt or stock to water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in the cornmeal slowly. Cook up to five minutes while stirring continuously. Remove from heat and toss in any herbs and shredded Parmesan or mozzarella that you fancy. Polenta should be thick, creamy, and smooth. Pour onto a plate or into a serving dish.

2) Make your chard. Slice some garlic cloves and toss into pan with olive oil. Don’t let them brown. De-stem the chard or kale leaves. Cut stems into small chunks, shred leaves into ribbons. Toss stems in first, then the leaves. Sauté to your taste and place on polenta.

3) Fry an egg and toss it on top!

Landing Cake

Posted in Recipes, Sweet Treats by ameliadean on May 1, 2010

When my culinary hero, Mark Bittman, published this recipe for a maple pear upside-down cake, I knew it was something I would tweak with. After adding red plums, yellow plums, strawberries, and nectarines into the pear mix and swapping the cup of pricey maple syrup for inexpensive golden syrup, I have made something worth documenting. My favorite thing about this recipe is that it invites experimentation. You can substitute agave syrup, sugar beat syrup, or even honey for the maple syrup. You can use whatever fruits you have lying around– even canned if you are feeling lazy. I added an extra layer to make a proper birthday cake for my darling flatmate Naemi, but there really is no need.


10 tablespoons butter

≈1/2 cup golden syrup

≈1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 pear, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

2 red plums thinly sliced

2 yellow plums thinly sliced

1 nectarine, thinly sliced

5 strawberries, thinly sliced

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 large eggs

1 1/4 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup milk

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoon butter in a small pan. Add your choice of syrup and brown sugar. You will need to alter the ratio depending on what ingredients you select. For more watery syrups (like agave), add less syrup and more sugar. For more viscous syrups (like golden syrup), mix the suggested amount of a ½ cup with less brown sugar. The most important things is that you make enough liquid to cover the base of your cake tin.

2. Cook syrup and sugar combination, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. The mixture should cool into a think, pourable paste. When mixture has cooled, pour it into a 9-inch baking pan. Arrange fruit slices in overlapping, concentric circles.

3. With a mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one egg at a time, continuing to mix until smooth. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. If you are making an additional layer, use 16 tablespoons butter, 1 ½ cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 4 large eggs, 2 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.

4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three batches, alternating with milk. (Double the milk quantity if you are making an extra layer.) Do not overmix. Pour and spread the batter over the fruit-lined cake tin, using a spatula to make sure batter is evenly distributed. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and edges begin to pull away from sides of pan, about 45 to 50 minutes; a toothpick inserted into center should come out clean. Let cake cool for 5 minutes.

5. Run a knife around edge of pan; put a plate on top of cake and carefully flip it so the is on bottom and pan is on top.

Below, Julian documents Naemi, Alexander and I enjoying my delectable creation on the landing of our flat. Happy Birthday Naemi!