Nice to meet you, Julia: part one

Until recently, I had never made a Julia Child recipe.  Sure, Mastering the Art of French Cooking has been on my to-do list for awhile, but these days, if I remember to eat, my meal planning consists of, “hey +1?  I’m exhausted and sitting next to the inevitable smelly person on MUNI for an hour really killed my desire to cook…you want to just heat up frozen Trader Joe’s Indian food?”

(By the way, their butter chicken, chicken tikka masala, and lamb vindaloo meals are not bad.)

Last week, though, a good friend gave me a beautiful copy of Baking with Julia.  There’s a heavy emphasis on bread, which, on one hand, is great – who doesn’t love carbs?  And on the other, I have had terrible, terrible luck with getting bread to rise properly.  My loaf pan may as well be cut in half vertically, because that’s about as good as it gets.

But after making two simple, beautiful, devastatingly easy galettes adapted from this book’s tart dough recipe, I am ready to put my faith in Julia (whereever she may be).  If anyone can teach me to make bread, she can.

Really, she had me at her butter manifesto, which goes along the lines of “nothing is superior to butter, so do not skimp, do not substitute.  Embrace the butter, for on the third day, there was Butter, and it was Good.”  Oh Julia, you speak my language.

In the meantime, allow me to introduce a delicious tomato and cheese galette:

Recipe after the jump.  Coming soon: what I did with the other half of the dough.

So when Julia Child said, paraphrased, “this is good hot or cold, as picnic fare, or an appetizer with wine,” I can now believe her.  I will now believe anything she said.

You start with making a cornmeal-enhanced tart dough, which makes enough dough for two galettes.  I froze one half and used the other immediately.  It makes it really easy to come up with a deceptively fancy weeknight dinner/cocktail party appetizer, and this is, frankly, the best savory crust I’ve ever tasted.  It’s light, flaky, and flavorful from the cornmeal.

Tart dough:

  • 3 tbsp sour cream, yogurt, or buttermilk
  • 1/3 c ice water
  • 1 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 7 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Mix the water and sour cream together and set aside.  Mix the dry ingredients together, then cut in butter with forks (or a dough cutter, if you’re all fancy-like) until the dough looks pebble-y.  Add the water/sour cream mixture, and bring the dough together with your hands.
It’s a very soft dough, so take care not to over work it.  Divide in half, press each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic.  Freeze half for later, and let the other half chill for at least two hours.

Galette filling and assembly:

  • 2-4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced into 1/4″ slices
  • Pre-made pesto
  • Shredded mozzarella (about a half cup to a cup)
  • Parmesan (2-4 tablespoons, depending on taste)
  • Crumbled feta cheese (for sprinkling on top)
Spread the tart dough with a thin layer of pesto in the middle of the dough, leaving about an inch and a half free.  Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top.  Arrange tomato slices over the cheese, then sprinkle generously first with parmesan.  Add a little feta on top.
Fold crust over, gathering sections of the dough and pinching at the top.  It doesn’t have to be perfectly fluted – galettes are supposed to look “rustic,” making them perfect for those of us who are too impatient to be obsessive-compulsive about a pretty crust.  IS IT BAKED YET IT SMELLS REALLY GOOD I WANT TO EAT NOW.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes (check at the 20 minute mark).  You want the crust to be crisp and golden-brown, and the tomatoes to have a “roasted” appearance.  The feta may brown, but I don’t find that to interfere with the taste.
Pro tip: it’s great with white wine, inspiring fantasies of having a nice little cocktail party at your house.  And if you’re like me, then you immediately laugh, because where am I going to find the time for that, come on now.  Is there more tart left?

3 responses to “Nice to meet you, Julia: part one

  1. Pingback: Nice to meet you, Julia: part two « Frolic & Detour·

  2. Pingback: Kitchen Play: Fruit, cheese, carbs, done. « Frolic & Detour·

  3. Pingback: Health update | Grey House Journal·

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