Sometimes, I have the thought that I'm not being "honest" or writing about what is "truly" on my mind unless I'm writing something having to do with perspective regarding emotion, relationships, or personal healing. There was an extended period of time when virtually everything I wrote - personal and professional - had to do with these very topics. And while a part of the function of this blog is to make space to exercise other aspects of my world, I often think about these things, regardless of whether I'm practicing therapy, cooking, making, or puttering around.
It's a funny transition - to move from a conversation with someone who is processing the ways that their relationship that is triggering intense emotion from the past, to deciding whether I want to rest my tomatoes on paper towel prior to laying them over a goat cheese filling. But, the truth is - we are multilayered beings, allowed to lean into the existential depths of what is central to our human hearts on the one hand, and completely allowed to get hung up on "Euro or Standard shams?" or "nectarines or peaches?" on the other. If we authentically contain both parts, we're no more or less "ourselves" when we express one versus the other.
I'm learning that when I suspend the "deeper" stuff and decide to be vocal about the latter (which I actually really love doing), I feel a sense of discomfort. I think this is due to the fact that I hid my emotions and "deeper" reflections from others for a long time. So when I don't share emotionally-laden or deep reflective stuff, it's almost as if a part of me gets scared that I'm going to fall down the slippery slope of becoming my pre-27-year-old self. A me who used to feel incredibly alone, and who used to hide her feelings, fearing judgement and rejection more than aloneness. In some way, it makes sense to be afraid of that, but I eventually learned that it wasn't necessary.
I'm not at all surprised that writing this blog might trigger this fear. Last week I wrote about a lemon cake. This week I'm writing about the conclusion of my two week long indecisive galette obsession (read on if you're riveted!). The fearful part of me is all: "um...when you write about lemon cakes and start drafts about making a DIY scarf out of old pants...the story I tell myself is that this is evidence you're going to move into a superficial realm and hide the authentic, feeling, side of you that you hid for so long." While I recognize that I don't have to talk-about-something-all-of-the-time-in-order-to-show-myself-that-I'm-not-hiding-that-thing, I get why that fear would come up. The fear just needs a little TLC. A little attention, perspective, and reassurance. Maybe I'm feeling like I see this blog as a way to find balance. To reclaim the crafty, DIY-ing, cooking, material-loving, making part of me through writing, and to promise that in the process, that I won't forget the sincerely emotional and philosophical side of me either.
So. transitioning, transitioning!
Today's recipe was the eventual product of my current obsession with the rustic, charming, and rich appetizer-snack-dinner-dessert that is the galette. I recently spent so much time researching inspiration (i.e. ogling galette photos on Pinterest) that I didn't begin the process in the time we had before leaving for Block Island for the weekend. Plus, I was testing a few other tarts that I wanted to bring and didn't think I'd be able to carry multiple pies and haul multiple boat bags plus Sunny. Perhaps it can be done and I just haven't pushed multitasking to its limit...
But, since I had decided on a recipe and prepped my pastry, I decided to haul my ingredients along. Plus, What's a better way to spend a potentially overcast weekend than to hang in and out of the kitchen and create small focus groups out of hungry and willing family members?
We tested all sorts of stuff. I brought two banana breads I recently made and everyone was in agreement that the more "banana-y" of the two was the better one (except mom, who loathes banana). I brought chocolate chip breakfast cookies that I thought were a bit too sweet, but which Mom preferred to the "dry" ones she hates (I love the honesty. Though, I have to say...I myself love those dry cookies with a little yogurt...). And baked a coconut cream pie (a very belated birthday treat) a la Smitten Kitchen, for Mom's early August birthday. I brought a rendition of Beth Kirby's whole wheat and cheese crusted tomato tart, which was an absolute hit. That woman, my friends, is (IMO) pretty incredible. She makes beautiful, delicious recipes and is open and honest about her life story. I could be late to the game, but if you haven't heard of or visited Local Milk, do it! I'm going through a phase of feeling particularly inspired by her creative recipes, "laid back" styling sense, and honesty.
Turning back to my recent obsession with galettes. Galettes are actually relatively simple and easy to make. They can be filled with a multitude of ingredients. Once you make your pastry, it'll be likely that your greatest conflict will likely be choosing what you want to put inside. First, I oscillated between savory and sweet. With summer season quickly slipping into the past, I decided that a honeyed tomato galette fit the season well.
I should mention here that I didn't actually end up making the galette on Block. I had every intention of doing so. But, after the first tomato tart, I decided to put off our second tomato-y recipe. And then, following the pie, cookies, banana bread, blackberry cobbler, and actual meals in between, I'm not sure anyone really had any space to appreciate more pastry. Savory or not.
So, I suppose this is the story of traveling galette ingredients, how life plans get away from us, and how these ingredients finally came together, fully formed, on a Sunday evening (two Sundays later, actually) in our Providence apartment (which actually says a lot about this pastry's staying power!).
End-of-Summer Tomato Galette with Honey-Thyme scented Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine-Nuts
1 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1.2 cup (1 stick) very cold unsalted butter, cut into a small dice 1/8 cup (60 ml) water, ice cold
2 quarts local heirloom cherry tomato of your choosing. Consider buying a few different colors, as it's fun to play around with your design!
1 tbsp each fresh squeezed lemon juice and olive oil
1 c goat cheese
approx. 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsps raw organic honey
1 tbsp lemon zest
1/8 c toasted pine nuts
Start with your pastry because it will need to chill for at least an hour (this particular recipe states up to one week (or frozen for up to a month), but I ultimately stuck it in my fridge, brought it in a freezer backpack back and forth to Block Island, and used it two weeks later!). This pastry flour recipe hails from Deb at Smitten Kitchen. She has a way with words and makes so-many-helpful recommendations, like keeping-your-crust-cold, so head over there if you want to take a deeper dive into mastering your crust-making processes (a process that can leave so many of us feeling like a crumbly mess ourselves).
Place your flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cut your butter into small cubes (1/2-inch is ideal here) and add them into the flour mixture. Toss them around so that they’re coated and used your fingers to squash each butter cube into flatter, lima-bean like pieces.
[You could also use a pastry blender, stand mixer, or a food processor, but go very easy on it, especially the food processor — you want flat-ish, lima bean-sized pieces of butter, not the usual “coarse meal” or “small pea-sized” mixture. If using a food processor, when you’re done, dump this butter-flour mixture into a large bowl before continuing.]
Pour water over butter-flour mixture and use a flexible silicone spatula or scraper to bring it together into a dough that will seem too wet and sticky, but will be just fine. Form your dough into a flat-ish ball and wrap in plastic, waxed or parchment paper. Chill in the fridge until firm — one to two hours.
Prepare your filling
Cut your tomatoes width-wise, so you have a series of lovely disks. I keep my seeds, but discard them if you prefer. Squeeze the TBSPs of lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl and let your tomatoes hand there for a while.
In a separate bowl, mix the goat cheese, olive oil, and lemon zest in a bowl. I used my hands to squish (break down) the goat cheese so it combined evenly with the EVOO and zest, but a stand mixer or other mixing device would work just fine. Add a bit of your thyme and honey to taste.
Chill your tomatoes and cheese if you're waiting for your dough to finish in the fridge.
Prepare your Galette
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place your pine nuts on a small baking sheet, and dry-roast until lightly golden brown. Keep an eye on these guys, the burn quickly and it really only takes about 7-8 minutes at the most.
Unwrap your pastry, place it on a well-floured counter, sprinkle the top generously with flour, and roll it out into a thick rectangle. Brush excess flour off dough with your hands and fold it as you would a business letter, into thirds. Continue to roll this packet into the shape needed for your final pie — about a 1/8 inch thick 14-inch round. If, while you are rolling out your crust, it becomes damp-looking or too-warm, roll it back up and stick it in the fridge. You want it to be cold.
This is up to you - but, at this point, I think it would be wise to transport the galette pastry to a baking sheet before I add my filling, as I haven't found a graceful way to make this happen once the whole galette is prepared (apart from shimmying parchment paper under the raw galette, dragging it off my table onto my baking sheet, and desperately whispering, "please don't tear"). You don't really need to do this with compact mini galettes, but a galette with a bit more surface area is heavier and more prone to tear-age.
Dallop your goat-cheese filling in the center of your galette crust, and use a spatula or spoon to spread it to about 2-3 inches from the edge of your crust.
Lay one or two layers of tomatoes. Don't create additional layers, as you want your galette to be relatively thin so the crust bakes fully. I ultimately chose not to rest my tomatoes on a paper towel prior to setting them in the goat cheese because they were not super ripe or juicy. The rationale for doing this would be that if your tomatoes are juicy or over-ripe, the excess juice might cause the base of your crust to become damp. Lay your tomatoes in a way that looks beautiful to you, and sprinkle with your pine nuts. Imperfectly fold your galette edges over your filling. Drizzle honey overtop, and sprinkle with fresh or dried thyme.
Stick in the oven for approximately 35-40 minutes, or until your galette is nicely browned. Serve as soon as you'd like.
This galette will serve 6-8 as an appetizer, or 4 as a not-enormous entree. We served with a bright, astringent, herby summer salad. Marcio, with wine. Me, with a ginger mock-tail. Everything paired beautifully together. We following it up with green tea and lemon cake, and M finished the galette for lunch the following day.