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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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Do I like Thanksgiving? I think so. It’s sacrilege not to. But sometimes the traveling, the stuffing ourselves, the Christmas music (yes, each year it arrives on radios and in stores earlier and earlier), it makes me want to scour kayak.com for flights to the Maldives and get the heck out of dodge. Which yes I am doing in fact. Hoping for a Maldivian Christmas-New Year’s. Wanna come?

But between the damage brought on from Hurricane Sandy a couple of weeks ago—the effects of which are still very much a hard reality in neighborhoods throughout the New York City area—and the fighting in Israel and Gaza this past week, there is a sobering and somber undercurrent this Thanksgiving. I continue to be amazed by the efforts of Occupy Sandy.

Some of the things I do like about Thanksgiving, of course, are the good eats: the turkey, cornbread stuffing, cranberry-orange relish, seeing my siblings together under one roof (rare these days), and trying new recipes. It’s a time to reflect on all the riches in our lives. For me, relationships and health in particular.

Last year I wrote about a devil food’s cake I tried out that was not entirely a success but not bad either. This year I needed a dessert to balance out the pumpkin cheesecake my sister-in-law—also our host in Northampton, Mass.—was making. You kind of need something with apples on the Thanksgiving dessert table but I didn’t want to make the same ole apple pie so I stumbled upon this salted caramel apple tart via Smitten Kitchen.

You make it using store-bought puff pastry and I recommend Dufour pastry which is made with all butter and not much else (ok, a little flour). You may experience sticker shock as I did at the Whole Foods checkout yesterday ($11.99) but it’s entirely worth it in my opinion.

You can find the entire apple tart recipe here. I am getting lazy about retyping perfectly good, already published recipes. A big shout out to Deb Perelman, from whose blog I’m unabashedly cribbing these days.

Look how pretty those little cubes of butter look on the uncooked apples!

Making the salted caramel is pretty darn easy.

Looking forward to biting into this tomorrow. I’ll try and update the post to let you know how it is. I also want to post about the cranberry-orange relish I made this year but need to go catch the subway! So if you celebrate Thanksgiving I hope it’s a meaningful one for you. Peace out-

As the occasion called for, this Thanksgiving was one indulgence after another. Gumbo, dark chocolate devil’s food cake, pecan tart, cornbread stuffing, Misty Knoll turkey, pear-pistacchio pie, mince pie, curry butternut squash soup. See what I mean?

When we arrived in Vermont on Thursday more than a dusting of snow remained. The photo above is a view from my dad and Bonnie’s back porch out toward the pond.

Each year there is mild debate about which stuffing we will make: my dad’s thymey-sagey breadcrumb with apple and sausage stuffing or my stepmom’s cornbread with cranberry stuffing. I like both but suppose I have a slight preference for the latter since I adore cornbread, and this year that is in fact what we had.

A twenty-one-pound bird from Misty Knoll Farms in Vermont managed to feed the twenty guests we had over for our Thanksgiving dinner, held on Saturday and not Thursday. (Thursday is for traveling and gumbo!)

Bonnie’s sister-in-law is known for her pies and this year she outdid herself by making four: an apple, pumpkin, pear-pistachio, and mince, my grandmother’s favorite.

My sister Hope’s birthday falls on the 28th of November (like John Stewart’s) and so each year we celebrate around Thanksgiving and I usually make a birthday cake. Since chocolate is kind of her thing and dairy is not so much her thing, it usually ends up being some chocolatey dairy-free concoction. This year I was interested in trying David Lebovitz‘s Devil’s Food Cake; while not dairy-free per se, it seemed easy enough to substitute Earth Balance for the butter and soy milk or Lactaid for the milk.

In the end the cake was a hit but I encountered a few stumbling blocks along the way. For instance, the recipe called for lining the bottoms of the cake pans with parchment paper, but I had none. So I greased and floured them well instead. But when it came time to wiggle the baked cakes out of the pans to cool they put up a good fight and the cakes started to come apart. In general I found the cake to be crumbly and wondered if this was just the lack of parchment or the Earth Balance perhaps? And finally, while I love dark chocolate, I found the overall cake and ganache frosting too be a little too dark, a result of using only 70% bittersweet cocoa bars. The cake’s darkness was fine, but next time, I’d mix the bittersweet with some lighter semi-sweet chocolate bars for the ganache frosting. Not that I heard any complaints from the birthday girl.

Devil’s Food Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz

For the cake:
9 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1/2 c strong coffee (or water)
1/2 c whole or low-fat milk (soy also works)

For the ganache frosting:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
5 oz semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 c water (or cream)
3/4 c (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1. Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat to 350 F.

2. Butter two 9″ x 2″ cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.

3. Sift together the cocoa powder, cake flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl.

4. In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and incorporate.

5. Mix together the coffee and milk. Fold half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, then add the coffee and milk. Fold in the other half of the dry ingredients to combine, but do not over mix.

6. Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

7. To make the frosting, melt the chopped chocolate with the water (or cream) in a double boiler. Remove the bowl from the pot of water.

8. Cut the butter into small pieces and whisk them into the chocolate until completely melted and the ganache is smooth. Cool until spreadable, which may take up to an hour at room temp or a quick cooling (5-10 mins) in the fridge.

Frost the top of one layer of the cake and then place the other cake on top. Frost the tops and sides of the cake and serve the same day.

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