Thursday, January 3, 2008
Few things showcase the rustic nature of fruits and vegetables better than a galette. Essentially a freeform tart, a galette has a hand-folded crust that is folded half way into the center, leaving some of its innards exposed. A galette is by definition slightly asymmetrical, but more beautiful for its imperfection, in my opinion.
I most like galettes with thinly-sliced fillings. If slices are more like chunks, it becomes quite unweildy and difficult to eat. However, packed with thin slivers of apples, spices, and brown sugar, or layered with red peppers, yellow squash, onions, and goat cheese, a galette is both easy to eat and oh-so-delicious.
The key to a good galette is to make sure that the exposed part stays moist in the oven. To do this, there are two tricks: first, add a little extra liquid or fat to the middle. Two, cook uncovered until the galette crust starts to turn golden, then cook covered for a bit so the inside has a chance to steam. I've covered both of these bases in the recipe below, but PLEASE, pretty please feel free to improvise. if you don't like onions or goat cheese, throwsome feta, greek olives and tomatoes in instead. Alternatively, use pears and gorgonzola. Wow, I just figured out what to make this weekend.
Basic Flaky Pie Crust
from The Pie and Pastry Bible (© 1998 Cordon Rose, Inc.)
Posted by Rivka Friedman at 1/03/2008
Saturday, December 29, 2007
A while back, Deb of Smitten Kitchen fame blogged about the shortcomings of Martha Stewart's chocolate pretzel cookie recipe. "Dry, bland, and not chocolatey enough" and more colorful adjectives described a cocopretzel that just didn't cut it. She suggested trying to make pretzels out of Dorie Greenspan's very flavorful and buttery chocolate rollout cookies, which I had been planning to make later that day. I figured what the hell? Chocolate pretzels they would be.
Needless to say, nothing is ever that easy. Dorie's chocolate rollout cookies are awesome cookies, but they make lousy pretzels. In the oven, they flatten out and spread a bit, losing their pretzel shape, and once cooled, they've got the texture of great cookies, not crunchy, crispy pretzels. Pretzels: 1. Rivka: 0.
With disappointment under my belt, I decided to give chocolate pretzels a second chance -- but not without a great deal of research. I googled several different phrasings of "chocolate pretzel cookie" and found total rubbish -- not even one decent recipe came up. I checked all my cookbooks with no luck. Left only to my own devices, I decided to develop a chocolate pretzel recipe.
My strategy was pretty simple (um, amateur?). I wrote out the ratio of butter:flour:cocoa:sugar:eggs in each recipe, noted the addition of baking powder and chocolate to Dorie's recipe and water and espresso to Martha's, and did my best to create a compromise between the two recipes that maintained the pretzely texture without sacrificing (much of) the flavor. And friends, you'll be thrilled to know that I succeeded! Yep, this super amateur method actually, to my total shock, worked!
Rivka's chocolate pretzel recipe (that's right, it's named after me!) yielded a chocolate pretzel that kept its round shape and its relatively toothsome crumb, but also packed a chocolatey punch from lots of cocoa and even a bit of chocolate. I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've developed a recipe from scratch -- so pat me on the back, will ya? And then run home and make these. They'll surely spread some holiday cheer (and maybe some chocolate onto your face, too).
makes 18 pretzels
DO NOT do as I did and roll them all out before shaping, because they'll get stiff and crack when you try to shape them. Shape as you go!
Posted by Rivka Friedman at 12/29/2007
Friday, December 28, 2007
Hey folks! Just a plug to check out Zorra's roundup of the Sugar High Friday entries -- mine's all the way at the bottom; it's the saffrom rice pudding and it's delicious! All the entries look mouthwatering -- so go check'em out!
Have a great weekend! Read more!
Posted by Rivka Friedman at 12/28/2007
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
In Italy, antipasti are meant to whet your appetite. (Granted, when I ate out in Italy, my appetite needed little whetting -- what with all the whiffs of freshly-made pasta and roasted tomato sauce drifting from the kitchen to my table.) Nonetheless, in Italy, antipasti are simply appetizers, mere preludes to the main dish. In my house, they're just part of the meal. After all, roasted vegetables with a splash of quality balsamic vinegar and just the right amount of good olive oil make a perfect accompaniment to whatever's being served. In my humble opinion, they need not precede the main course -- in fact, they do just fine right alongside it.
By far the best thing about antipasti is their simplicity. Season, drizzle, and roast, that's all there is to it! These simple steps work wonders for eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, even sweet potatoes. The trick is to slice thinly, and flip once half-way through the roasting process so that both sides crisp up. If you're sparing with the oil, as I am, best use a pastry brush, which will spread the oil over the entire surface without soaking them all too much. And while cooking spray is fine for the pan, I strongly recommend sticking to real olive oil for the vegetables themselves; olive oil is a strong player in the saturated, concentrated flavor that antipasti develop.
I can safely say that this "recipe" has no recipe, but a method, instead: slice whatever vegetables you use about 1/4-1/8 inch thick, as uniformly as possible. Line a roasting pan with a single layer of vegetables. Brush each side with olive oil, sprinkle salt and pepper, and add herbs if you like (I favor sage, pictured below, for eggplant, and rosemary with sweet potatoes, onion, and a new addition -- turnips).
Bake at around 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until the tops are browned; flip, and bake another 10-15 minutes. Check regularly to avoid burning (which I unfortunately have a tendency to do!). Once the vegetables are out of the oven, transfer to a platter, drizzle with good balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to room temperature before serving.