ZUCCHINI TOMATO GALETTE

What’s better than being able to go out into the vegetable garden and pick whatever veggies you want for dinner that evening.  Again this summer, my garden has produced an over-abundance of zucchini.  In addition to making all my favorite zucchini recipes – muffins, chocolate zucchini bread, mock apple streudel, ratatouille, fritters and frittata – as well as filling the freezer –  I’ve been on the search for yummy, new zucchini recipes.  Well, I’ve come upon one which is so easy and delicious, I just had to share.  I made this once to test it and now I can’t stop making it.

I know “galette” sounds intimidating, but believe me, it’s not.  Whether you call these rustic, free-form pies a “galette”, “clafoutis”, or “crostada”, they are all easy to make.  And, you can make them savory or sweet – just vary the filling.  Keep in mind the term “rustic”.  It’s not suppose to be a perfectly-formed crust.  If you are fortunate enough to have a food processor to make the crust, its even easier.  And, the crust can be made up to three days ahead.

For a casual dinner or to impress guests, this is an easy-to-make, rustic Zucchini Tomato Galette.

ZUCCHINI TOMATO GALETTE
Bake 425°F for approximately 25 minutes.  Serves from 4 to 14 – depending upon serving size.  Will make one large or four individual galettes.

CRUST
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (one stick) very cold butter, cubed
4 to 6 tablespoons ice water

The crust will be flakier if the butter and water are icy cold.  Mix the flour and salt together.  Then cut in the cubed butter until its a nice crumb.  If using the food processor, pulse 8 or 9 times.  Add just enough ice water to form a dough.  Dump the dough batter onto a lightly floured board.  Pat it together to form a smooth disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about 30 minutes (or up to three days).

FILLING
1 large zucchini, sliced approx. 1/4″ thick
12 to 16 cherry/grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 eggs – 1 for egg wash
1/2 cup grated Parmesan/Romano cheese
grated zest of one lemon
salt and pepper
olive oil

On a baking sheet, spread the zucchini and tomatoes in a single  layer.  Brush lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast at 425°F for about 15 minutes or until roasted through.  When tender, remove and let cool.

While the veggies are roasting, mix together the ricotta cheese, one egg and lemon zest.  On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough to a large circle – approximately 14″ in diameter, 1/4″ thick.  Or, make individual galettes.  It’s entirely up to you.

Put the crust(s) on a large baking sheet.  Spread the crust with the ricotta and egg mixture, leaving a 2″ border around the edge.  Then sprinkle half the grated cheese onto the ricotta mixture.

Arrange the roasted zucchini slices and tomato halves on top of the cheese mixture.  Fold the edges of the crust over towards the center.  Brush the dough with the egg wash.   Sprinkle with the rest of the grated cheese.

Bake the galette in a preheated 425°F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving.  Slice in wedges as if its a pizza.


For dinner, serve this delicious entree with a big garden salad.  Or, if you are having a party, this makes a wonderful appetizer, just slice in slivers and arrange on a platter.  This recipe is a  definite keeper.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
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CHICKEN “POT” PIE WITH ROASTED VEG

I wonder why Americans add “pot” in the name of a meat pie. In the U.K. this is a “chicken pie with roasted veg”, but here in the states, it is a “chicken pot pie”. It doesn’t really matter to me what it is called, as long as its delicious … which this pie is!

Pot pies or pies in a pastry crust seem to have gone out of fashion. You can’t beat them, however, when the weather is as cold and gloomy as it has been and you need something hearty and comforting. They’re also a great way to use up whatever leftovers you may have in the frig. If you want a real time saver, you can buy pre-made pie dough at the grocery store, and along with a rotisserie chicken and a package of frozen vegetables (all of which I’ve done before), just assemble and bake.

Not today though. The chicken is going to be marinated and the vegetables are going to be roasted, which gives this pie a whole new dimension and depth of flavor. Although this is a ‘from scratch’ recipe, all of it can be done ahead of time … make the dough one day (up to three days in advance) … the vegetables another … and the chicken another. But it’s a very wintry day, and I’m in the mood to bake.

CHICKEN AND ROASTED VEG PIE
Preheated oven – 400°F. Roasting time – 20 to 30 mins. Baking time – 30 mins.

2 to 3 lbs. skinless chicken (breast, leg, thigh or combination)
Pie Crust for 2 9” pies
Marinade:
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped  
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
Stock:
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine or water
2 teaspoons cornstarch + 2 tablespoons water = slurry
1/2 cup cream
Vegetables:
6 cups vegetables – cut in chunky pieces
– carrots
– sweet potatoes
– onions
– bell peppers, red and/or green
– mushrooms
(or any combination – Brussel sprouts, parsnips, cauliflower, etc)
olive oil
salt and pepper
1 egg

Early in the day (or the day before) prepare the marinade.  Mix all in a bowl and set aside. Cut the chicken into cubes, about 2”.  Pour the marinade over the chicken, cover and refrigerate … at least two hours. When you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 400°F.

Peel and cut the vegetables into chunky pieces. Put them into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread the veg on a roasting pan and roast for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender and browned. After they are beautifully charred, let them cool and, if too big, cut into bite-sized pieces.

While the vegetables are roasting, heat olive oil in a large saute pan. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade with a slotted spoon and brown in the hot pan. Don’t fuss with them, let them brown – 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the chicken stock, the remaining marinade and bring to a boil. Meanwhile make a slurry with the cornstarch and water.  After the chicken mixture has reached a boil, add the cornstarch slurry to thicken and make a gravy.  When it has thickened, take it off the heat and add the cream.  (I said this was hearty …  not lo-cal.) Taste for seasoning.

Add the vegetables to the chicken mixture and stir to combine.  Again, check for seasoning. The liquid may have thinned. If it’s too runny, add more of the slurry to thicken it.

Spoon the chicken and vegetable filling into pie plates … one very large pie plate or casserole, two 8″ pie plates, or many individual ones.

Roll out the pastry dough. Not too thin. Cover the mixture with the pie crust. Press down slightly and seal the edges. Brush with a beaten egg and then cut little slits in the crust for the steam to escape. It’s always fun to decorate with the scraps of pie dough (which, you can see, I did.)

I made one large 9″ and two smaller, single serving pies, which are going into the freezer to be baked and enjoyed another day. Bake in a preheated oven at 375°F for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown and the filling is piping hot.

Serve immediately with a nice crisp salad and glass of wine. So delicious. So comforting. So good!

I hope you enjoy this comforting meal as much as we did.
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A “European-style” Bed and Breakfast?

Sometimes you just need to get away …. and this weekend was it for us.  Trying to find a cozy, little place to ‘get away to’, within an hour or so’s drive, on a busy summer weekend, when you only have a couple of days (and a budget) is very difficult.   But we were very fortunate to find a (“European-style” – their words, not mine) B & B that just happened to have a last-minute cancellation.  Wonderful!

It was much needed and we’re back …. rested, rejuvenated and ready-to-go!  What I did find interesting about this bed and breakfast was the need to describe themselves as “European style”.  What does that actually mean?  Whenever we travel, we always try to stay in Bed and Breakfasts.  They are a comfortable, personal and affordable way of lodging (short of youth hostels) and are a great alternative to the usual disconnected, corporate atmosphere of a hotel.

breakfastWe’ve been very fortunate staying at B & B’s in many different countries and have never had a bad experience.   Some B & B’s are larger than others. Some are just a room or two in a home to help the homeowner offset their income.  For others, this may be their primary income and they have five, six or more rooms ….. some even with a small bar.  One thing you can be sure of though is that, in addition to the personal attention, you are going to get a great breakfast.  No, not just some muffins, a banana and a glass of orange juice, but a full “hot” cooked breakfast.  And quite often with ingredients plucked right out of their garden.

In Thailand the hostess wanted to give us ‘toast’ along with our breakfast because we’re American, but she wasn’t sure how to ‘toast’ the bread.  So she lit a campfire and put the bread on sticks.  Nothing tasted better!  In Wales breakfast included whatever was picked from the garden that morning along with farm-fresh eggs, locally sourced ham and freshly baked, whole-grain bread. 

bedroomYou are also going to get a plush, thick, comfortable mattress with a down-filled duvet (and, as was the case in Thailand, mosquito netting).  You’re going to get a key to the front door (or back door, or side door) as well as your room.  You’ll definitely meet the house dog and cat (and on one occasion be asked if you could take him for a walk).

Friends might come by.  Family will certainly be there.  You’ll be asked to sign the ‘guest book’ to let everyone know where you are from and when you stayed.  If you need a recommendation on where to go for dinner, you’ll be sure to get a good one, with directions, along with the name of the owner and whoever may be cooking that evening.

If you need a suggestion on how to spend your day, the homeowner will be ready with first-hand knowledge of local places, activities and events.  And when you come back after your excursions, a hot cuppa tea or coffee with a home-baked sweet or two will always be offered.

Do you need a wake-up call?  Don’t expect that annoying house phone to ring.  But do expect someone to politely knock on your door.  In Kenya, we were awoken by someone standing outside our door ringing a little bell.  The night before they had also put hot water bottles in our bed to warm it up!  No, you do not get this service at the Marriott Courtyard.

One B & B we stayed at also invited us for dinner.  Of course we would love to ….. but, she wanted to know what kind of fish we liked.  We like all kinds of fish.  Why?  “Well, Tim is going out fishing and I want to tell him what to catch.”  These are the personal touches that a B & B experience can provide.

Did this New England B & B provide us with the classic “European” ambiance, attention to detail and personal service that we have come to know and love?  They certainly did!

brewster
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Cornish Pasties

Every time we visit England, the first stop my husband has to make is to a motorway rest area.  Yes, the very same ones that appear along highways and motorways everywhere …. except in England where they have a food truck in the parking lot selling authentic “Cornish Pasties”.    “One Cornish pastie and one cheese and onion pastie, please.”   We then go back to the car where he savors every last bite.   Knowing how much he enjoys these rustic hand pies, I have learned to make them.  They may not have the “terroir” of the ones in England, but they’re pretty darn good.

History of Cornish Pasties
A “pastie” is a pastry pie, most often filled with meat and/or veggies.  It is thought that pies  originated in England around the 1300s as a practical way to serve and preserve meats.  The better cuts of meat were, of course, used by the wealthy upper class, with the lower class reduced to using entrails and organ meats, known at that time as the “umbles” (from which we get the term “eating (h)umble pie, meant as an apology).  Now these “umbles” are referred to as “offal” and are quite the trend in gourmet dining.

During the Middle Ages the pies were highly spiced (in an attempt to cover up the rancid flavors, I’m assuming).  With no refrigeration, pie making took place on a Monday and they were expected to last the week, if not longer.  Eventually, pie making took place outside the home and the “pie man” became as important as the ‘butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker’.  Hopefully, I’m not the only one who remembers the nursery rhyme “Sing a song of six pence, a pocket full of rye, four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.  When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing, wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?”

The pie quickly became popular as a method of providing a hearty meal to laborers who worked on the farms and in the mines.  A hearty pie could be transported easily, required no plates or utensils and would sustain a worker til he returned home at night.  Originally the hand pie was made with a savory meat filling at one end and a sweet fruit filling at the other.  Who doesn’t love a little dessert at the end of their meal?

miners eating pasties

The Cornish pastie is so revered, in 2011 it received protected status from the  European Commission.  You can buy pasties all around the U.K., but to buy a “Cornish pastie” the Commission requires it to be prepared in Cornwall, but it can be baked elsewhere.  Also, it must contain uncooked meat, potatoes, turnip, onion, salt and pepper (nothing more).  It must be in the shape of a “D” and be crimped along one side.  If it does not meet all these requirements, it can be a “pastie”, but not a “Cornish pastie“.

It appears even Hobbits enjoyed pasties in the Shire ….
Hobbitt pies 2

Classic Cornish Pastie Recipe
Like regional foods everywhere, every family has their own special touches.  The following is the classic recipe, which we love.  Feel free to add your own special touch as well.  You should get 8 to 10 servings, depending on the size of the rounds you cut from the pastry.  If you are going to prepare your own pastry, it does take a little extra time, but its so good.  Prepackaged pastry, however,  works just fine.

The Crust
All purpose flour – 2-1/4 cups
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Butter, cold, unsalted – 8 ozs., cut into cubes
Cold Water – 6 tablespoons or more
The Filling
Chuck steak – 10 ozs., cut into 1/4″ dice
Onion – 1 small, cut into 1/4″ dice
Potato – 1 medium, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice
Parsnip – 1 medium, peeled and cut into 1/4″ dice
Salt – 1 teaspoon
Pepper – 1/2 teaspoon
Butter
Egg – 1 lightly beaten

Put the flour and salt into a large bowl (or food processor) and add the cold, cubed butter.  If you are using a food processor, pulse quickly til the butter is incorporated but still visible.  If using your fingers, or a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter only until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.  Add the cold water and mix with a fork quickly until a dough forms.  If more water is needed, don’t hesitate to add it, but a little is all you need.  Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead briefly.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  You want the dough to stay as cold as possible to get that nice flaky crust.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven.  Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper.  While the oven is preheating, in a large bowl combine the diced meat, onion, potato and parsnip.  Add the seasonings and set aside.

On a floured board roll out the pa??????????????????????stry dough until it is 1/4″ thick.  I cut the dough in two pieces to make handling a bit easier.   Using a plate, or pot cover, or anything that will give you a 6″ diameter round (or larger, if you’d prefer), cut rounds out from the pastry dough.

 

Stack the rounds on a plate with waxed paper in between to prevent sticking.  Gather up the scraps and reroll them.  Don’t be wasteful.  You should have 8 to 10 6″ rounds.

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Using one pastry round at a time, place about 1/2 cup of filling to the side of the pastry.  Add a pat of butter onto the filling and then brush the beaten egg around the edges.  Fold the unfilled side over the filling and press down to seal.

 

Starting at one edge, crimp the edges to prevent leaking.  A traditional Cornish pastie has 21 crimps.  The most I could achieve was 14.  Oh well, more practice is needed!

Place the pasties on the baking sheets and brush with the remaining egg.  Cut two slits in the top of each pastie to allow steam to escape. 

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until the edges begin to brown.  Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 to 25 minutes more, or until golden.  Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.   For lunch, a quick supper or snack, they are delicious.  Enjoy!!

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