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Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

The February/March Cook the Books reading selection, Dinner with Edward, inspired my mini strawberry chocolate galettes.  Dinner with Edward, by Isabel Vincent, is a charmer.  It’s a quick read, filled to the brim with amazing food stories, menus, and inspiration.  But the heart of the book is the relationship between Edward, a retired gentleman whose wife recently died, and Isabel, a younger woman who goes through major life upheaval in the course of the book.  It’s a book about friendship and food, both of which cut across generations.  I really thought this one was, well, charming.

And so much food to choose from for inspiration (as you can see from my very sticky-noted copy)!  I initially couldn’t decide if I was going to try one of Edward’s potato recipes, or steak, or soup, or soufflé, or martinis, or chicken, or fish, or pork.  What I eventually landed on was being inspired by the apple galette that shows up around chapter three.  Strawberries are slowly making their way into season (as spring seems to finally be peaking around the corner here in the PNW).  I decided to aim for a version of the galette using butter instead of Edward’s recommended lard, and go for flavors that I love to share with friends.  Thus, I ended up with a dozen perfect mini strawberry chocolate galettes that my husband and I have been munching on all week long.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

These mini strawberry chocolate galettes would make a great Easter dessert.  They’d also be delightful as the final course for a picnic.  You can substitute other berries for sure – I’m definitely going to be making these again when raspberries are in season.  Galettes take all the loveliness of a pie and make it into a rustic, easy to make and bake treat.  They are completely free form, so all you have to do is make the pastry, roll it out, fill and bake.  I added a touch of dark chocolate and some sugar macerated strawberries and called it delightful.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Oh – and I’ll confess.  I did end up making a dry martini the way it was suggested in the book.  I think it may be the best martini I’ve ever had in my life.  If you are curious, check out either the book (which I highly recommend) or take a peek at my Instagram feed where there’s a photo of the martini and tips on how to make it.

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Galettes

Ingredients

    For the Pastry
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • For the Filling
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 egg for egg wash

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Make the pastry by combining the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into chunks and add to the flour, using a fork, your hands, or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour. Add the water, a bit at a time and work into the flour/butter mix until it forms a ball. Refrigerate the pastry dough for 30 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, combine the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar and set aside to macerate.
  4. Use parchment paper to line a baking sheet.
  5. Melt the dark chocolate chips. Roll the chilled pastry dough to 1/4 inch thickness. Use a round cookie cutter or similar to cut the dough into small circles.
  6. Spoon a bit of the melted dark chocolate into the middle of each pastry dough circle. Arrange several slices of strawberries on top of each and gently fold and pinch the pastry dough up over the strawberries.
  7. Place each mini galette onto the parchment lined baking sheet. If you are using an egg to wash, combine the egg with a tablespoon of water and beat until frothy. Brush the egg wash over the pastry dough for each galette.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes or until the galettes are light brown. Enjoy!
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cookthebooks

This recipe is linked up to March’s Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi.  Treat Petite is hosted alternative months at Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer, so be sure to check out both awesome blogs!

And to Novel Foods #29

And to the March 2017 Foodie Reads

Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Tart

Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Tart

I’m sure my readers have noticed me waxing rapturous about most vegetables that come my way, particularly throughout the summer time.  The only summer veggie that I have a very indifferent relationship with is summer squash.  I attribute it to the fact that summer squash has a propensity to become slimy when cooked, which is a texture I just can’t stand in food.  That said, I really enjoy cooking with squash blossom flowers, and with that in mind, planted a summer squash plant about mid-way through the growing season this year.  My logic was that it just wouldn’t produce fruit – I’d be diligent about plucking the flowers and using them.

Try as one might, it’s hard to be a prurient guardian of a vegetable’s chastity.  My summer squash defied me and set out squash anyway.  It turns out I had a yellow zucchini on my hands.  I picked it before it became a giant and grabbed one of the smaller ones that was starting to grow, too.  I decided finding a way to cook it very minimally would be the way to go, so sliced off about sixteen thin slices and set them aside for this goat cheese summer squash tart (the remainder was grated and made into zucchini coconut cashew muffins – recipe to come).  It turned out so well that I almost regret not having more summer squash on the way.  I’m already starting to envision planting several zucchini next year, thus starting a cycle of vegetable love and loathing all over again.

zucchini goat cheese tart prebake zucchini goat cheese tart4

Summer Squash and Goat Cheese Tart
Serves 4

1 recipe rough puff pastry
1 very small zucchini or other summer squash
2 ounces goat cheese
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup walnut pieces (optional)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Slice the zucchini into thin slices – you should have at least sixteen slices.

Roll out the rough puff pastry into a square that is 8 inches by 8 inches.  Divide into four squares that are 4 inches by 4 inches.  Place the squares on a parchment paper covered cookie sheet.

Place the zucchini slices in the middle of each square, 4 slices to a square.  Divide the thyme leaves, goat cheese, and walnuts (if using) over the zucchini.  You can fold up the sides of each square to create a border or use any leftover strips of puff pastry to do the same.

Bake for 20 minutes or until the puff pastry is a light golden brown.

Rough Puff Pastry

Rough Puff Pastry

I’ve been an avid watcher of The Great British Baking Show for the past two seasons.  It’s been this avid watching that finally gave me the courage to try my hand at puff pastry.  I decided to start off with trying rough puff pastry, largely because I really like saying rough puff pastry.  I also like the allure of the quick and easy.  I’ve wanted to make various things with puff pastry, but every time I buy it at the grocery store, it gets tossed in the freezer, things happen, and next thing I know, it’s a year later and I have puff pastry with a serious case of freezer burn.  I figured if I made my own, I’d use it right away and could also make it in a batch the size I needed.

Of course, the day I decided I needed it (based on the size of the summer squash I was eyeing to make into a savory tart), it was 85 degrees in the PNW.  I’ve been lamenting the lack of a summer the last few weeks, and now I think I’m going to be lamenting the return of summer with a vengeance the next few weeks.   I did discover that you can make rough puff pastry when it’s very hot – you just have to be diligent about letting it rest in the freezer to keep the butter from melting between turns.  I also gave it a full ninety minute rest in the refrigerator after I was done turning it, and it was just fine.

I realize I need to be better about taking photos between steps.  At the very least, I will try to provide an in-depth set of instructions below.  That said, here’s what the rough puff looks like when it’s been mixed and after it’s gone through the turning process.

rough puff mixed rough puff final fold

Rough Puff Pastry
Makes a small batch – I was able to get four 4 inch by 4 inch squares out of this.  It could easily be doubled.

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons cold butter
1/3 cup cold water

Mix the flour and salt in a medium sized bowl.  Grate the butter into the flour/salt mixture.  Stir until the butter is well coated with the flour.  Make a small well in the middle and add the water.  Mix until all the flour/butter/salt mixture is incorporated into the water.  Gently knead the mixture until you have a shaggy dough – don’t over knead or over mix.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface.  Roll out a rectangle about 8 inches by 4 inches.  Fold the dough letter style – the top third comes down and the bottom third comes up.  Turn ¼ turn.  This is the first turn. Roll out again into a rectangle about 8 inches by 4 inches.  Fold the dough again – top third comes down, bottom third comes up.   This is the second turn.  Do this process (roll, fold) at least two more times.  Work fairly quickly – the butter shouldn’t start to melt all over your surface.  If it starts to get too soft, throw the dough into the freezer between turns and let it firm up a bit.

Once you’ve turned and rolled at least four times, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator for at least an hour to rest.

I’ll be featuring various ways to use rough puff pastry over the next several months.  This summer squash and goat cheese tart is the first one.

Croissants

Croissants

Do you ever pause for a moment and really think about food? Often, as I’m eating something, like an artichoke or a hazelnut or mushrooms, I pause and consider how our ancestors first thought to eat this particular food or thought to prepare it in a particular way – or really, even thought to prepare food at all. I think about this when I’m baking bread and when I’m making pasta – about how this combination of simple things – flour, yeast, eggs maybe or just flour and eggs (in the case of pasta) – came to be.

I also think about the memories we attach to food. I can’t think of much else in life, except music, perhaps, that so firmly attaches to a memory as food does. Some foods have a stronger memory association than others, and for me, one of the strongest is croissants. My first association with croissants was chocolate croissants and almond croissants that my mom would buy at a little chain in Colorado called Petite Boulangerie on Green Mountain. It seems to me that the bakery was next to a bookstore, so for me, those two things – pastry and books – are inexorably linked. As an adult, I encountered chocolate croissants in a meaningful way again in New Mexico. A daughter of one of my co-workers sold chocolate croissants, which she’d learned to make in France, at the local farmers market in Tularosa. I would buy six or eight at a time and we would freeze them and then heat them up again on lazy Sunday mornings. Croissants are also closely tied to my honeymoon – my only trip to Paris thus far. We stayed at a small B&B and the proprietress would make us croissants and eggs in the morning, along with some miserable coffee she’d microwave. It was ok – we had fresh croissants, a bit of jam, and some cheese.

For a long time, we had a baker here in my part of the PNW who made chocolate croissants and sold them at our farmers market. Two years ago or so, he left to go start a bakery somewhere in Mexico, and I decided it was time to stop relying on others for croissants – it was time to make my own. And maybe because I have these strong associations with my memories, I was afraid to make these – they seemed so complicated, like a mystical ritual that took a full moon to fully realize or something. One holiday season, I found a recipe online that looked easy enough and dove in. The results were good – flaky, but a bit on the small size. What I discovered in this process was that there was nothing mystical about the croissant – it was basically dough with a hefty amount of butter. The magic comes about in the layering of dough and butter, but even this is not as complex as it looks. I’ve since found that a little devil-may-care attitude seems to work well to get the croissants nice and fluffy.

If you’ve never had a fresh croissant right out of the oven, I strongly encourage you to try these. One note of warning: this is a two-day recipe that takes a fair amount of time on the first day (though most of that time is inactive time waiting for the dough to rest).

What follows below is a step-by-step guide with pictures.

Start by breaking two eggs into a two-cup measure. Fill the measure with warm water and then give the eggs a good stir until they are incorporated with the water. In a medium size bowl, pour the egg and water mixture and then add 2 ¼ teaspoons active yeast. Add to this mixture 3 tablespoons sugar. Combine. Gradually add 5 cups of flour, stirring as you go. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead for four or five minutes – until the dough is supple and soft, but not overworked. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.croissantstep1

While the dough rests, put 4 sticks of butter (a total of 1 lb.) into a one-gallon size freezer or storage bag. The next step is an extraordinary stress reliever: place the bag with the butter on the counter and start whacking it (hard) with a rolling pin.

croissantbutter1

The goal here is to flatten the butter out into a rectangle that’s about ¼ to ½ inch thick. Once the butter is flattened out and in a rough rectangle, refrigerate until the dough is ready to go.

croissantbutter2

When the dough is ready to come out, turn it onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a rectangle about 16 x 18. Place the butter rectangle into the middle and fold each corner of the dough toward the middle, over the butter.

croissantstep2croissantstep3

From here, flour the surface again and roll out the dough to a 16 x 18 inch rectangle. Once this is complete, fold the dough into thirds (like you might fold a letter). Turn the dough one-quarter turn and roll it out again to a 16 x 18 inch rectangle. This completes two turns (you’ll turn it four times total). Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.croissantstep4croissantstep5

When the dough comes out, roll it out again to a 16 x 18 inch rectangle and then fold by thirds and refrigerate again for 30 minutes. This is the third turn.

Do this one more time – roll the dough into a 16 x 18 inch rectangle and fold into thirds. This time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, put the dough on a well-floured surface and divide it into two sections.  You’ll be able to see the multiple layers of the dough.laminateddough

Put one section back in the refrigerator and roll the other on a well-floured surface into a 16 x 18 inch rectangle. Divide the dough into 12 more or less evenly divided sections. Place your filling in the middle of each section and fold the dough. Repeat with the second section of dough.

croissantsquaresprefilling

I used two fillings this time around. The first half of the dough was filled with prosciutto and Swiss cheese. The second half of the dough was filled with dark chocolate chips.

croissantfillingcroissantfillingchocolate

At this point, you can do two things: first, you can put the croissants in the oven on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake them for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Keep an eye on them – when they are evenly browned on the top and bottom, they are finished.

croissantintheoven

Second, you can put the croissants on a parchment covered baking sheet and freeze them (once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag). The beauty of uncooked and frozen croissants is that you can pull as many as you need out of the freezer the night before you plan to bake them, put them in the refrigerator and then bake them the next day and they will still puff up just as beautifully as if you had made them fresh.finishedcroissant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Croissants (recipe adapted from King Arthur flour)
Makes 24 croissants

2 eggs and enough warm water to fill a two-cup measuring cup over the eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
2 ¼ teaspoons active yeast
1 lb unsalted or salted butter

Prosciutto Croissant Filling
8 or so slices of prosciutto
6 slices of Swiss cheese

Chocolate Croissant Filling
1 package dark chocolate chips

Start by breaking two eggs into a two-cup measure. Fill the measure with warm water and then give the eggs a good stir until they are incorporated with the water. In a medium size bowl, pour the egg and water mixture and then add 2 ¼ teaspoons active yeast. Add to this mixture 3 tablespoons sugar. Combine. Gradually add 5 cups of flour, stirring as you go. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead for four or five minutes – until the dough is supple and soft, but not overworked. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

While the dough rests, put 4 sticks of butter (a total of 1 lb.) into a one-gallon size freezer or storage bag. Flatten into a rectangle and refrigerate.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll it into a rectangle about 16 x 18. Place the butter rectangle into the middle and fold each corner of the dough toward the middle, over the butter.

From here, flour the surface again and roll out the dough to a 16 x 18 inch rectangle. Once this is complete, fold the dough into thirds (like you might fold a letter). Turn the dough one-quarter turn and roll it out again to a 16 x 18 inch rectangle. This completes two turns. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

When the dough comes out, roll it out again to a 16 x 18 inch rectangle and then fold by thirds and refrigerate again for 30 minutes. This is the third turn.

Do this one more time – roll the dough into a 16 x 18 inch rectangle and fold into thirds. This time, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, put the dough on a well-floured surface and divide it into two sections. Put one section back in the refrigerator and roll the other on a well-floured surface into a 16 x 18 inch rectangle. Divide the dough into 12 more or less evenly divided sections. Place your filling in the middle of each section and fold the dough. Repeat with the second section of dough.

Bake at 375 degrees for twenty minutes. Alternatively, you can freeze the croissants. When you are ready to bake them, take them out of the freezer the night before and then bake the next day at 375 degrees for twenty minutes.

 

 

 

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