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Galette is a galette is a galette.

Pie, or pastry, in the U.S., usually means sweet. It evokes sticky fruit spilling out of pastry in high summer. Or maybe pumpkin pie topped with clouds of whipped cream on Thanksgiving. I like these, I do. But I’m also partial to savory pies, meals tucked into flaky pastry. A galette is neither pie nor tart but the forgiving and rustic cousin—open, free-form, and baked flat on a baking sheet. And truly, pretty simple to make. Don’t let the pastry intimidate!

We had at least one vegetarian coming for Thanksgiving dinner here in Vermont this week so I wanted to make something substantial and special sans meat, rather than requiring the Brussels sprouts, green beans, potatoes, and cranberries to do the heavy lifting. A savory galette seemed both fetching and filling.

The recipe here is an adaptation from Deb Pereleman and Smitten Kitchen. I added whole wheat flour to the pastry mix, swapped yogurt for the sour cream, leeks instead of onions, and included pine nuts to the filling, because, well, why not?

The snow is just beginning to melt in the abundant—but cold—sunshine here; we got at least ten inches earlier in the week. The hardy sage plant in my stepmother’s garden (hidden under snow in one of photos below) still provided me with all the herbs I needed. And while the pastry chilled in the refrigerator I shoveled the entire walkway, it was the perfect amount of time.

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Butternut Squash Galette with Caramelized Leeks
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Pastry
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice-cold water

Filling
1 small butternut squash (approx. 1 pound)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 to 2 leeks, washed thoroughly and sliced thinly (white parts only), approx. 2 cups
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
3/4 cup fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated
1 to 2 tablespoons pine nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves

Make the pastry: Combine the flour and salt in a bowl; place the butter in a separate bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for one hour. Remove the bowls from the freezer and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Prepare the squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, cutting in half and scooping out the seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on a baking sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning once during baking. Set aside to cool slightly.

Caramelize the leeks while the squash is roasting: melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook the leeks over low heat (make sure it’s a low flame otherwise they will quickly burn!) with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne.

Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Toast the pine nuts in a small pan on the stovetop then remove from heat. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese, pine nuts, and sage together in a bowl.

Assemble galette: On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, leek, cheese, and sage mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open.

Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let cool slightly before transferring carefully to a serving dish. You can serve warm or at room temperature. let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Serves 6.

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Any dish that ends “…with ginger and chili” I am predisposed to like. It’s kind of my current favorite flavor profile. I generally like heat over sweet, and there is something medicinal, healing, about the combination. When I can remember to, I like to start my mornings steeping ginger and chili in hot water, sometimes with a little bit of fresh squeezed lemon, and if I’m feeling a stuffy nose coming on, a tiny bit of honey.

So when I stumbled upon a recipe for a spicy butternut squash soup I perused the ingredient list and liked what I saw: coconut milk, fresh ginger, fresh chili, cilantro, turmeric. This was a recipe for October, for crisp weather and fending off colds. It is warmth in a bowl.

I’m in Vermont for a few days watching over a two-month-old kitten named Sam—short for Sammy Davis Jr., naturally. While born feral and therefore fearful of humans, she surprised me this morning when I woke to discover her resting peacefully on my chest. Up, down, with my breath. I picked long red chili peppers with my stepmother from her garden before she headed out of town, putting the better part of one to good use in this recipe. Now I just need to find something to do with all the Swiss chard, white eggplant, and green tomatoes we picked. In the meantime…

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Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger and Chili
adapted from Brooklyn Vegetarian

2 tablespoons coconut oil (olive oil works well too)
1 medium onion, diced
Knob of fresh ginger, approx. 1 inch, peeled and minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Fresh red chili pepper, minced, to taste (I used a piece 2 inches long)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 carrot, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium to large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup coconut milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parsley or cilantro, to garnish
Scallions, to garnish

In a large saucepan heat the oil on medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until it turns translucent. Add the ginger, garlic, and chili and sauté for about 1 minute, then add the cumin and turmeric. Stir, then add the carrot and celery and sauté for several minutes until they begin to soften. If the pan gets too dry you can add a spoonful or two of water, so the onions don’t stick. Add the squash, broth, and coconut milk, season with salt and pepper, and slowly bring to just before the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer until the squash is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Allow the soup to cool some before transferring to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth, in batches if necessary. You can reheat the soup in its pan before serving if you’d like. Garnish the soup with sliced scallions and parsley or cilantro.

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I know what you’re thinking. That doesn’t look like celery soup. Did y’all see the Koons show at the Whitney? Go see it before the Whitney closes forever and moves downtown. Yes, even if, like me, you think you are above it or have some (lots of) preconceived notion of his art. You will gain a broader appreciation for him and the fabrication of some of these objects. I think. Shout out to David Gordon for dragging my butt there on an early Saturday morning. Also, did you listen to this? Hilton Als interviewing Khandi Alexander, Thelma Golden, and Toni Morrison for Studio 360. Oh my, what are you waiting for?

Ok, soup. It’s early fall. Which is actually the best time to be at a farmer’s market in New York. The stalls are spilling over with eggplants, tomatoes, early brussels sprouts (we’re not capitalizing Brussels anymore right?), all sorts of greens, apple varieties, peppers, and squash. More on squash in a bit. There’s still corn, raspberries, celery, blueberries at one stall I saw. If you live in the five boroughs of NYC you have no excuse—the Union Square greenmarket is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.  While you’re at it, bring your food scraps from your freezer, the compost station is at the northeast end of the market. When you’re done composting and purchasing pretzels and apples and tatsoi and fairy eggplant, stroll down Broadway to the Strand bookstore and spend time in there perusing. Seriously. I recommend. I did this Saturday and it was life affirming to be in a brick-and-mortar bookstore browsing, touching, dreaming, reading first pages. I mainly hung around cookbooks and new fiction with my bud @superdaniela.

Celery seems to be having a bit of an “it” moment in food don’t you think? Featured as the main ingredient in salty spicy salads; in celery tonics; in the last episode of Breaking Bad (ok, made that up), and of course, soups everywhere. In the spirit of things celery and fall, here is a quick and dirty celery soup. Ok, not that quick, not that dirty, but pretty darn basic. Some easy substitutions could make this vegetarian and vegan lickety split (i.e., substituting vegetable broth, using coconut cream instead of half and half…) This soup is velvety, rich, and smooth. The original recipe uses whole cream instead of half and half and more butter; I reduced both, but feel free to tinker/increase, as your palate desires.

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Celery Soup

Serves 4
adapted from BonApp

1 head celery, chopped
1 large potato, preferably waxy, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
6 tbsp butter or vegan fat like Earth Balance
Salt
3 cups low-sodium broth (chicken, vegetable)
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
Red chili flakes
Dash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup half and half
Olive oil, for drizzling
Sea salt, to serve

Combine the celery, potato, onion, and butter in large saucepan over medium heat, season with salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 8–10 minutes. When the onions seem about cooked, add the broth, bring to a simmer, and cook for another 8–10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Let the soup cool down a little before transferring to your blender.

Add the dill, chili flakes, and dash of balsamic vinegar and blend the soup until smooth. Depending on how ocd you are you can strain the soup at this point, or just transfer it back to the saucepan. Add the half and half and stir until smooth. Taste for seasoning. Gradually bring the heat up a little if you’re serving right away. Serve in soup bowls with tops of celery, drizzle of olive oil, and sea salt.

**Bonus recipe**
Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Ginger and Chili
I made this the other night and shazam, I am going to make this all fall.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Wrap two sweet potatoes in tin foil (poke with a fork first) and roast for 45 minutes to one hour until totally cooked through and soft. Do the same with a bulb of garlic—wrap in tin foil and toss in the oven—for maybe 30 minutes. Remove the soft meaty flesh of the potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Remove one or two of the garlic cloves from the skin and mash into the potatoes. Combine with 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice, finely chopped fresh ginger, red chili flakes, and sea salt. Mix well. Devour.

Below is a picture of me and my buddy Dan (sorry Dan forgot to get your permission first, if you hate this photo I’ll take it down!). We met our freshman year at Cornell so we’ve known each other a long time now. B/c we old. He just moved back here and that’s us in the JivamukTea Cafe taking a selfie for our friend Laura in Oakland. Hi Laura!

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One of the cool periodicals at last week’s Art Book Fair at MoMA PS1

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Three of the delicious pies at Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Gowanus, Brooklyn

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I run by here in the mornings, this guy is often fishing, Prospect Park Lake

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