Hi guys! I’m Jackie, sometimes known as The Feeder Lady, and I blog over at I Am A Feeder. When Mara asked me to do a little guest post for her of course I said yes. I recently had the pleasure of meeting Mara in Chicago and sharing the best meal of my life with her at Alinea – we made each other laugh so much it was as if we’d been friends all our lives, shared heart-breaking stories and comforted one another. Though I’m thousands of miles away in London, a guest post is as close as I could get to rugby-tackling Mara and giving her a giant hug… but rest assured, the next time I’m in Chicago this will happen!We’re all a little socially awkward from time to time, I more than most. I have the particular joy of being a chatterbox which means that I can often hide it from the world with awkward babble, but behind the conversation and friendly tone is actually a little girl, crying with terror.
One of the reasons I love to cook and bake is because there is something about a freshly baked cake, pie or meal that does more for a friend’s soul than any amount of talking or crying. In situations where my psycho-babble will not help a grieving friend, or even my own piece of mind, providing comfort in a shared slice of cake and a cup of tea is my forte. It speaks a thousand words, gives a million hugs and reminds you that you are cared for and loved, no matter how great the sorrow.I recently became a little obsessed with making crostatas and galettes, not only because they’re easy and delicious, but because the way that you fold over the edges of the crust almost seems to me like a hug. The crust is sturdy enough to hold hearty fillings, but also so delicate it flakes apart in your mouth. It all started with a recipe for Zucchini & Ricotta Galette over at Smitten Kitchen, to ease my own job frustration; then a Rhubarb Galette for my housemate, weary from a long day at the office; an Apple Galette baked for a close friend, stuck in a country he didn’t want to be in; a Strawberry Galette, baked whilst thinking of another friend very far away whose world had been turned upside down in recent months. I made these and as I gave them away and shared them I didn’t need to say a word.
ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTEAdapted from Smitten Kitchen
For the pastry: 1 1/4 cups plain flour 1/4 teaspoon salt 4 oz unsalted butter, chilled 1/4 cup sour cream 2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice 1/4 cup ice water
1 large zucchini, sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsps fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 egg yolk, beaten
1. Make the pastry: whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle the butter over the dough and using two knives, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the dry flour and butter.
3. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball – be careful not to overwork the dough.
4. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
5. Make the filling: in a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together, then set aside. In another bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella and 2 tsps of the garlicky olive oil together. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).
7. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12″ round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet or Silpat.
8. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2″ border. Layer the zucchini on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge.
9. Drizzle the remaining garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk.
10. Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30-40 mins. Remove from oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate.
11. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Ingredients For the pastry: 1 1/4 cups plain flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tbsp caster sugar 3 tbsps vegetable shortening, chilled 5 tblsps unsalted butter, chilled 4 tblsps ice water 1 egg white, beaten
For the filling:
3 cups rhubarb, chopped into 1″ pieces
1/3 cup caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp
1 lemon, zested
1 small orange, zested
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsps plain flour
1 egg white, beaten
1 tbsp sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F).
2. Make the pastry: sift together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the vegetable shortening (easiest if you have already cut it into smallish chunks) and, using a knife, “cut” the shortening into the flour. That’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like, use the knife to cut and coat the shortening into smaller pieces in the flour.
3. Add the unsalted butter (also cut into smallish chunks) and, using two knives, cut the butter into the mixture as well. Keep going until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. You can also use the “rubbing in” method for this, which involves you rubbing the flour and butter together to form coarse crumbs (commonly used for crumble toppings). However, to do this, you must make sure your hands are a) very cold and b) very dry, or you’ll end up with a hot mess on your hands (literally).
4. Add the cold water to the mixture and stir and press it together with a spatula until it comes together in a dough. When it begins to come together, use your hands – you may need a little more water, add one tablespoon at a time.
5. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour, or bang it into the freezer for fifteen minutes or so.
6. Make the filling: in a bowl combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon and orange zests, cinnamon and nutmeg, then add the lemon juice and give it a good stir.
7. Add the flour and stir until you have a thick paste – you may need to add a little more flour or liquid.
8. On a floured surface roll the dough into a 12″ round. Transfer onto a Silpat.
9. Heap the rhubarb into the centre of the dough, leaving a 2″ border. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of sugar, then fold the edges of the pastry over into the centre, pleating as you go. The middle will be open.
10. Brush the crust with the egg white, then sprinkle with the tablespoon of sugar. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 35-40 mins, or until the rhubarb is soft and bubbling, and the crust is golden and shiny.
11. Serve hot with vanilla ice-cream or custard, and enjoy.
Until we meet again, peace and love.