Galette Gusto!

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I have been really into desserts lately, especially with all the delicious fruits coming into season! Nectarines only come around once a year for a few months so I jumped at the chance to create a simple, rustic, yet impressive dessert for my clients.

Fussy tarts and pies can be such a pain to form and of course as a chef I always want to create that perfect aesthetic, however I discovered that when time is of the essence, something comparable like a galette can impress just as much but with less of a hassle.

A galette is essentially a free form rustic, generally crusty pastry that can be topped with various sweet or savory toppings. I chose to pair fresh nectarines tossed with vanilla bean and citrus to accompany the delicate yet crisp crust made with cornmeal. The result was delicious and it couldn’t be easier….here’s what I did….

For the Crust:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 stick cold butter, cubed
2 tbsp. buttermilk
1 egg (for egg wash..this creates that golden brown color)

In a food processor combine all the ingredients, except the egg. Pulse until the butter is small and pea sized, but not too small! (if the butter is fully incorporated it will not achieve the same flaky crispy texture you want)

Pull the dough out of the processor and knead by hand JUST until a ball is formed. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

For the Filling:

6-8 ripe nectarines, sliced
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup white sugar
1 lemon, juiced & zest
2 tbsp. all purpose flour

In a large bowl toss all ingredients until combined and the nectarine slices are evenly coated.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick. You may need a bit more flour to prevent sticking for this step…use your noggins people! Transfer the dough to a parchment paper lined sheet tray.

Arrange the nectarines in the center of the dough leaving about a two inch border of crust. This will allow us enough room to fold up the edges and prevent any of that yumminess from creeping out. Fold up the edges of the dough and brush only the crust with your left over egg.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. It may take a few minutes longer depending on your oven, but ultimately all you need is for the nectarines to be partially cooked and the dough to be crisp. Check this but CAREFULLY lifting the galette and checking for browning underneath.

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I topped mine with a fresh raspberry whipped cream…It’s super easy….1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 tbsp. powdered sugar and 1/4 cup fresh raspberry puree. Sub out the raspberries for any other berry that you have :-)

Spring Fruit Crostata

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Ever crave a pie but reallllly don’t want to go through the trouble of trying to create that perfect pie crust with an uncooperative pie pan? Yeah me too.

A crostata is basically a free form rustic pie. These can be made individual like I have done, or family sized! :-) Either way they are going to be delicious and easier than you may think. I used fresh apricots and cherries for my simple filling, but try these during any season. (Think apples in fall, cranberries in winter & berries in summer)

Tip: Try getting your kids involved in forming the crostata, this way each one can be unique and personalized!

The most important part of the crotata is the crust….heres my take on it:

Dough:

1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal flour
1/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold buttermilk (or ice water if buttermilk isn’t readily available)
Extra flour for rolling out

Filling:

4 fresh apricots, sliced
1 cup cherries, pitted
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested

 

1.) In a food processor pulse cornmeal, flour, sugar & salt. Add in the cold butter all at once and pulse until the butter is around pea  sized. (This helps the butter spread evenly throughout the dough and helps promotes flakiness) Slowly stream in the buttermilk just until the dough starts to form. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and knead to combine…..Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. (the colder the better)

2.) In a medium sauté pan on medium heat, saute the apricots and cherries in the butter until they just start to soften. Don’t turn these to mush! Once the fruit has softened just slightly, add in the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking until the sugar has melted and coats the fruit. Let cool.

3.) Separate the pie dough into fourths or even eights depending on how big you want your crostata to be. Using the extra flour, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch and place on a parchment lined sheet tray.

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4.) Take about 2 tbsp. of filling and put into the center of the dough. Fold up the edges of the dough creating an even crust around the crostata. Bake these suckers at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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I plated mine a bit fancier with lemon curd, caramel and a sour cream sauce. These crostatas are perfectly good alone or with some fresh home made whipped cream!

Elevating Classics

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One of my favorite things to do is take classic recipes and put a twist on them. Strawberry Shortcake is just one of the many American staples that I LOVE. The classic style is too plain for me. I really love being creative and different…and maybe a tad dramatic! With that in mind, I created a cornmeal biscuit, macerated berries with lemon zest and whipped vanilla bean mascarpone. Your childhood favorite is still there, it’s just a modern mature approach, which is sure to impress your friends. :-)

P.S. Remember that all my recipes can be altered. Cooking is about having fun and using what you have on hand. This recipe would be great with a different fruit as well!

Cornmeal Biscuits
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 cup Cornmeal (gives a great texture to your biscuits)
1 1/2 tbsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1/8 cup white sugar
1 stick butter (cold! this helps create the layers you know and love)
Buttermilk as needed….( start with 1/2 a cup save some more for brushing on top prior to baking)
Zest of 1 lemon

Whisk the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, lemon zest and sugar together in a large bowl. Cut in the stick of butter. (this basically means incorporate butter using a pastry blender or fork until the butter is pea sized.)
Drizzle in the buttermilk until dough starts to form. Remember you can always add but you can’t take away in cooking!

Roll out your biscuit dough onto a floured surface until about 1 inch. Brush with buttermilk and bake at 375 degrees until golden and risen.  Let cool.
For my filling I used strawberries and blackberries tossed with lemon zest, juice and white sugar. Feel free to switch up the fruit I used for something more to your liking…e.g. peaches, cherries or plums!

The typical whip cream is replaced by a rich and creamy whipped mascarpone cheese (basically this is an Italian cream cheese) Whip the mascarpone with white OR brown sugar, vanilla beans AND extract and slowly drizzle in some heavy cream to thin out to your desired consistency.

 

 

 

Coconut Concoction

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Whenever I go to a get together or a dinner party at a friends house, I always ask “what can I bring?” There are the typical store bought dips, cookies, brownies; yawn. -__-

With a little help from the store, and a touch of homemade cooking these treats can be made easily and inexpensively. I called them Toasted Coconut-Vanilla Bean Cheesecake Cups…My inspiration? I have been obsessing over this toasted coconut vanilla yogurt lately and have grown to love everything coconut flavored.

Cheesecake Cup Filling

  • 1 8 oz. package “Greek” cream cheese, softened (this stuff is amazing!!)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 small box instant cheesecake pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups low-fat milk (you can use whole milk if need be, but NOT non-fat, it will not set as firmly)
  • 1/2 cup prepared vanilla bean whipped cream, recipe follows (no vanilla beans no problem, use extract!)
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut (I used flaked sweetened coconut)

Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream (the colder the better, this will make whipping the cream much easier)
  • 1/8 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 vanilla bean pod scraped (can be omitted, as they are a bit pricey)

For the filling, prepare the cheesecake pudding as directed on box but only use the 1 1/2 cups of milk versus the two; set aside and chill for 20 minutes or until firmly set. (This allows for a thicker consistency)

Beat cream cheese with 1/4 cup white sugar until combined. Beat this mixture into the chilled cheesecake pudding just until combined. Fold in 1/2 the whipped cream until mixture is light, fluffy and consistent.

Whipped Cream

Combine cream, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl and beat until medium peaks are formed. Do not over work this or else you will wind up with butter.

To assemble:

I used phyllo dough and created cups in muffin tins easily. (by brushing melted butter in between the dough layers (about 4) and pressed into the muffin tins.)Don’t have the time to make your own? You can find these pre-made individual mini cups in most any grocery store. Feel free to also use a graham cracker crust base as well.

I garnished mine with more toasted coconut, graham cracker crumbs and some berries. Try them with pineapple! This is such a quick and easy take on cheesecake. All your guests will be asking for the recipe. :-)
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Blueberry Blunder

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Trying to find something to do with those seasonal berries in the fridge? Always those lonely blueberries or random fruits that you know wont get eaten in time, but you have NO idea what to do with them.

Solution:

Muffins & Cobbler. Two American Classic desserts that are underrated! They are so versatile and lend themselves easily to a wide variety of fruits. Here are two recipes that are not only easy but delicious. Both recipes use blueberries, however any berry would work perfectly for either recipe.

Berry Cobbler

  • 2 pints berries (I used a mixture of blackberries and blueberries) Dont have fresh? Use frozen, but increase the corn starch to 1/4 cup
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Dash of cinnamon and nutmeg (can be omitted)
  • 1 package prepared sugar cookie dough (the kind in the rolled tube) Feel free to make your own cobbler topping but this works out so perfectly with a little help from the supermarket! :-)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toss together all ingredients except the sugar cookie dough. Pour into a 13×9 greased glass baking pan. Crumble the sugar cookie to evenly across the top of the berry mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and the cookie topping is golden brown.

That’s it! It couldn’t be any easier.Take a peek at mine below which I served with vanilla bean whipped cream. Feel free to eat it with ice cream as well!
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Next up…

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour (feel free to substitute whole wheat flour, but remember texture may vary slightly)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (don’t have any? use white or light brown)
  • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt (Greek yogurt or other flavors would work as well, have fun with this one!)
  • 1 cup blueberries (again, use any fruit! But if it is frozen, toss the blueberries in 1/4 cup of the flour to prevent turning your batter Smurf colored)

Streusel Topping

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line your muffin tins. (this recipe makes about 12)

Combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and 1/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Beat 6 tablespoons butter, egg, yogurt, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Pour yogurt mixture into flour mixture and mix until just combined; fold in blueberries. Scoop batter with an ice cream scoop and divide evenly between the 12 cups. I use the ice cream scoop so the muffins are more or less uniform and not a miss shaped mess!

Whisk together 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in the 6 tablespoons of butter with a fork or pastry blender until this mixture is coarse and the butter is pea sized. Top each muffin with a generous layer of this crumb topping. (trust me, the more there is the better)

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. This will take about 20 minutes. Let cool in muffin cups for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.

*For an added touch drizzle muffins with a lemon glaze. Just whisk some powdered sugar with the juice of one lemon until desired consistency. Drizzle this mixture using a fork or spoon in any manner you want. The lemon will go great with the berries and may cut some of the sweetness.

Check out mine…They were gone in minutes. Literally.
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