A few months ago, I got a lovely email from a guy who reads my blog. He and his partner live in Seattle and a big birthday was coming up. He wondered if I would cook a dinner for them as a surprise for his partner. I was touched and said yes right away. Many emails went back and forth figuring out dates and menu ideas. Through it all this guy was such a joy to work with. He only had two requests. Mexican Brownies had to be the treat and I had to keep the whole thing a secret.
Menu ideas went around and around in my head. I obsess about menus for people I know, let alone strangers. Ultimately, I decided it was best to let the season guide me. I turned to my trusty Macrina Bakery cookbook for yet another of Leslie Mackie’s amazing savory galette recipes. This one had a ricotta and goat cheese base with sauteed pears topping it. I made a butternut squash soup that had just a bit of wild rice in each bowl, and I made broccoli and cauliflower with a mustard chive butter. And the brownies of course.
Coincidentally, we had friends over for dinner that same night so I made double the amount of everything and we were able to enjoy the meal as well. I was a tad worried that the galette might be too sweet for a main course but it was really wonderful. I was recently tempted to try a different crust recipe after reading a post by Sarah at In Praise of Leftovers (she is a galette master), but after tasting this one once more, I’ve got to stay loyal. It is so incredibly easy to put together and is probably the flakiest dough I have ever tasted.
Have you ever felt like a rock star? I haven’t had the experience too often, but I highly recommend it. Thursday afternoon I arrived at their place and called from downstairs to ask for help bringing up the food. As they walked out the front door, his partner took one look at me and his hands flew to his face as his jaw dropped. He recognized me from my photos here and as the reality of what was coming set in, he got really excited. I got to hear how they found me (thank you Amy B.!) and all the dishes they have tried, and loved, from this site. He told me, “I feel like I’m meeting a rock star.” And that was probably the best thing I heard all week. Because yes, sometimes my children do make me feel like a rock star (“Yay Mommy!”) but more often than not, they make me feel like a roadie.
One Year Ago: Gnocchi with Winter Squash and Seared Radicchio
Roasted Pear Galette with Chèvre and Pomegranates
Adapted from Macrina Bakery and Café Cookbook
The amount of dough in the following recipe will make two of these large galettes. Use one half and freeze the other. I love having it on hand in the freezer.
2 ripe Bartlett pears, cored and halved
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 cups goat cheese
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. chopped thyme
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Dough (recipe follows), chilled
1/4 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
Egg wash made with 1 egg and 1 tsp. water
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Preheat a large skillet (preferably non-stick) to medium-high heat. Cut pear halves in to 1/2-inch thick slices. Brush both sides of the slices with canola oil and lay them in the hot pan. Turn the slices over as soon as they begin to turn brown, you don’t want to cook the fruit all the way through. Once they other side is slightly brown, lay the pear slices on a sheet of parchment paper and set aside to cool.
Combine ricotta, goat cheese, eggs, salt, thyme, and rosemary in a large bowl. Season with a little pepper and mix well with a whisk. Set aside.
Form chilled pie dough into a ball and place it on a floured work surface. Flatten the ball slightly and roll it into a 14-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Roll the dough over the rolling pin and unroll it onto the prepared baking sheet. Spoon ricotta mixture onto center of circle and flatten leaving a 2-inch border around the edges. Lift border on top of the filling, tucking and folding the dough to create a gathered, or pleated, finish. Lift each of the folds up and brush underneath with egg wash to seal the crust. Brush all exposed dough with egg wash, then place the galette in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.
Remove tart from refrigerator and bake on center rack of the oven for 30 minutes. Remove tart from oven and lay the cooled pear slices on top of the tart. Return the tart to the oven and bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Let cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes. Garnish the tart with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley. The galette is best served slightly warm. Wrap any leftovers with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
(DT: You can make the dough up to 4 days ahead, the cheese filling one day ahead, and can seed the pomegranate one day ahead. This make putting it together a breeze. The whole thing can be assembled and baked 6 hours ahead of serving. Reheat in a 375°F oven for 10-15 minutes.)
Flaky Pie Dough
Makes enough for 2 double-crusted (9-inch) pies, or 2 galettes
I always make pie dough in my food processor, but this amount is too much for it, so I do it by hand with a pastry blender.
5 1/4 cups flour
1 tbsp. kosher salt
12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) butter, chilled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 3/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, chilled
1 cup ice water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl and toss together. Add butter and cut it into the flour until the texture is coarse and crumbly. You can use a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers. Cut the shortening up and add it in small pieces. Cut in the shortening until the dough is crumbly again. Add ice water and mix just until the dough sticks together when pinched. Pull dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a block. Cut it in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, or wrap it again in foil and store in the freezer. One day before you are going to use frozen dough, transfer it to the refrigerator and allow it to thaw there overnight.