Savory galette makes a fantastic meal

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Happy new year! Last month I treated myself to a new cookbook: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Smitten Kitchen blog, it’s a great one, filled with well-composed photos and recipes that are manageable for the average cook. Sometimes I head there when I’m looking for inspiration.

The first recipe I tried from the cookbook was the recipe for a Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette. While the galette didn’t turn out quite as I had hoped—I halved the recipe and forgot to use half the olive oil, so that overpowered the flavors and made it oily—I loved the recipe for the pastry part. It had a lovely flakiness about it. Since I still had half of it in the fridge, I decided to make my own combination with leftover chicken, spinach, and Parmesan. It was fantastic.

I’ve never had a savory galette before, but I figured the pastry wasn’t sweet and could be used with a different set of ingredients. In all honesty, I liked my combination better than the one with butternut squash because it wasn’t as heavy or sweet.

Keep in mind that I mostly cook for myself, so this galette could serve up to three — or you could have leftovers, which is what I did. I enjoyed every bite.Savorygalette010415

Pastry
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ice water

In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Place the butter in another bowl. Place both bowls in the freezer for 1 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 sour cream, 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.

Filling
One chicken thigh, baked with lemon, chopped
1 packed cup of fresh spinach, torn into smaller pieces
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface or between two pieces of parchment paper, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread filling over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the edges of the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. If you want to give it that shiny edge, you can make an egg wash by whisking one egg and two tablespoons of water together and brushing the mixture over the top of the pastry.

Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.

Plum cake: Not just for fairytales

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Plum cake has always sounded like something served in a children’s story, and I’d never really thought about it until one of my co-workers named it as his favorite dessert. I keep a list of my co-workers’ birthdays and favorite desserts so, if I have time when their birthdays roll around, I can bake something for them. I once baked a pumpkin pie for one of my reporters, and he sat at his desk and ate it out of the dish for his lunch that day. I loved that he enjoyed it so much.

Since this particular co-worker was out of the country when his birthday rolled around, I had some time to look through plum cake recipes before I settled on this one. I picked up plums from the farmers market and got to work on it. The batter is a pretty basic mix of ingredients, and it was stiffer than I expected it to be. I figured the juice from the plums would provide the extra sweetness and moisture once it was baked.

Though it isn’t normal for me to give someone something I haven’t first tried myself, I felt pretty confident that this cake turned out the way it was supposed to. My co-worker, of course, told me he had never had a plum cake, so his expectations weren’t as high as I had believed. He enjoyed it, and I was able to sample a bite of it and I was surprised at how good it was. I consider that to be a success for a first attempt.

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Large pinch of salt

1 cup granulated sugar plus 1 to 2 tablespoons (depending on sweetness of plums)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 large eggs

6 large imperial plums, halved and pitted

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat over to 350 degrees F. Sift or whisk together flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, cream butter and 1 cup sugar together with an electric mixer until fluffy and light in color. Add the eggs, one at a time and scraping down the bowl, then the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined.

Spoon batter into an ungreased 9-inch springform pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums, skin side up, all over the batter, covering it. Sprinkle the top with lemon juice, then cinnamon, then remaining sugar.

Bake until cake is golden and a toothpick inserted into a center part of the cake comes out free of batter, about 45 to 50 minutes. Cool on rack.

Leave it covered at room temperature overnight so the plum juice can soak into the cake around it.