Zucchini, yellow squash and ricotta galette

Remember how much I love zucchini? How about how much I love open-faced tarts? This was made for me.

I’m always wary of grocery shopping in Sudbury when my list involves an item that is even slightly out of the ordinary. In the past, I’ve walked five kilometres for a blood orange substitute and have searched high and low for red cabbage. Sudbury is a working class city, meaning that it isn’t even slightly logical for the grocery store to carry a product that 95% of the population probably doesn’t give a hoot about.

What I’m trying to get at here is that, my usual optimism aside, I was absolutely positively sure that I would not be able to find a yellow squash anywhere within the city limits. I love it when I prove myself wrong.

I was standing in the produce aisle at the grocery store, looking forlornly at the pile of butternut squash sitting in the designated squash section. Then something in the zucchini pile caught my eye. Beneath the dark green exterior of my cylindrical favourite food was the bright yellow flesh of, could it be – yes! – a single, medium-sized yellow squash (also known as yellow zucchini, apparently). Excitement!

As it happens, I love yellow zucchini even more than its green-with-envy companion. Like a squash, it’s a little more dense and less seedy, and still has that fresh flavour and bright colour of normal zucchini.

One of my favourite things about zucchini (and eggplant, for that matter) is that it’s not afraid to sweat. That’s right, you heard me. I love vegetables that perspire. Using a precision that can only be described as neurotic, I arranged the zucchini slices on piece of paper towel, creating a pattern that was so pretty it became the background on my iPhone. A sprinkle of salt and voila…half an hour later those slices looked like they had just come back from a day at the beach. I dabbed their forehead with more paper towel and sent them on their way.

I like making galette because the finished product is guaranteed to look rustic and low maintenance. Plus open-faced tarts always cut beautifully and they trick me into thinking I’m eating pie. The summer flavours of the zucchini matched with the creamy consistency of the ricotta was an excellent combination.

Pre-oven galette lovin’ (galetteagram)

I ate my two very large pieces of galette out on our back porch. The sweltering heat of the day had subsided and what was left was an extremely pleasant warmth that wrapped around my body like the lightest of summer sweaters. The folks in the house at the bottom of our backyard cliff were having an outdoor dinner party, and I sat back and relaxed as the music (it was the type of tune you’d play in a restaurant that Frasier would visit) and voices murmured in the distance.

I topped it all off with a refreshing glass of lemon Perrier water. Which I was going to mix with gin until I realized that mineral water is rather different than tonic water (spoiler: I did it anyways). Thanks Internets. Rookie mistake.

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Cara cara orange and raspberry galette with a gingerbread crust

I know what you’re wondering.

What the hell is a cara cara orange?

I was asking the exact same question a few short days ago.

Here’s how it started. I went out with the intention of making of a blood orange and clementine galette, but, since I’m in Sudbury right now, some foods are a little more difficult to find at the grocery store than others. To make a long story short: there were most definitely no blood oranges in stock. I blame the city’s “only the meat and potatoes” offering and, I suppose, the fact that blood oranges aren’t technically in season until mid-January.

After calling around to a few different stores, including Sudbury’s only specialty fruit shop, it was determined that there were no blood oranges in the entire city. I gave up on that. There were, however, cara cara oranges at a shop in the city’s south end. A quick Google determined that these types of oranges had a rose hue and evoked notes of cherry, blackberry and rose petal. Oooooo pretty. They would have to do.

I then walked five kilometres to purchase said oranges. Worth it.

Turns out getting the oranges were only half the battle.

From here, I learned a new kitchen method: how to “supreme” a citrus fruit. Catie, the blogger who wrote the recipe that inspired this dessert, was luckily a culinary school graduate who explained the technique (this link is actually SO helpful).

Basically, when you supreme a fruit, you are taking off all the peel and the tough, white membrane that sits directly beneath.

While the technique seems a little difficult to master completely, I think I managed to do a pretty okay job with my four oranges (except the first one, which was a little mangled. That photo will never see the light of the Internet. Trust me, though, it wasn’t pretty). My quarter inch orange slices came out looking like tiny, Japanese blossoms.

The oranges and my late addition of raspberries (I decided that I didn’t want to attempt to supreme a tiny clementine) meshed well with the gingerbread crust that I got from Brittany’s pear gingerbread galette post. Add a dollop of whipped cream and you’re set.

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Cheddar, onion and pancetta galette (the perfect fireplace fare)

Leftovers. This yields so many delicious leftovers.

I feel as though there is no better place to write this post than sitting in my living room in front of our faux fire. It’s warm, cozy and satisfying, just like this galette. This dinner was the ultimate “curl up in your pyjamas and eat” (not that I ever do that, nope, never) meal.

But before I talk about that, let me discuss the experience of pie crust making. People have told me that making pie dough from scratch is truly a character building experience. They say it can be a daunting task. Perhaps it is my love of kneading things or my meticulous measurements, but my experience was actually a simple and positive one. The crust recipe you’ll find below is courtesy of the Complete Canadian Living Baking Book, and those folks know what they’re talking about. Needless to say, I’m now on a bit of a pie kick. In fact, I am currently plotting a baking extravaganza to make use of my newfound skills. I’m thinking a banana cream pie might be first up…

This galette actually turned out so well. I was very happy. When I first made the filling (the onion and pancetta) and piled it on to the rolled out dough, I was terrified. The thing was stuffed to its very fullest point and was upright and chubby. I was sure that when I put it in the oven it would simply explode out of objection. Luckily the exact opposite happened, and the onion and pancetta continued to cook down, leading to a flat and visually appealing dinner. Whew. Dodged a bullet there.

And gosh, was it ever pretty. But of course (and this can be classified as a first world problem, fyi), daylight savings time once again conspired against me. I finished making this at a reasonable dinner time (6 p.m.), yet it had still been dark outside for a whole hour-and-a-half. Sadness. No patio photography for me. As a result, the  photo shoot for this dinner was held the next afternoon on my dining room table with a galette that retained little of its fresh-out-of-the-oven splendour. So I hope these are still okay photos. I even put the entire galette back in the oven to try and make it look appetizing again!

Anyways, major noms were had and I’m ecstatic that I added pancetta to the recipe. So freakin’ good.

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Last-minute Thanksgiving dessert: Apple galette

Okay, so I didn’t technically make this for Thanksgiving dinner, but it is definitely worthy of such an occasion.

And lets be honest, if it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re still not sure what you’re making for Thanksgiving dessert, well this is probably as easy as it gets. So read on. Or just skip to the bottom in case you’re cutting it close for time and just need to see how to get this baby made as fast as possible.

Thus far I’ve made two versions of this apple galette, one of which we will label the first, the other which will hereon in be called version two (creative, huh?). Also, for those of you who don’t know, a galette is basically a freeform cake of sorts, a dessert whose shape relies not on some fancy pie dish. Even better for last minute bakers.

The first galette was made in Toronto last weekend when I went to visit Matt. Since we were going to one of his friend’s house for a food party on Friday night (for the record, Matt’s friend is Brian, and he has a really awesome blog which you should all read and love), I needed to think of something that could be made using Matt’s limited baking supplies (really, no parchment paper?). The answer was this apple galette. I had been planning on making it earlier in the week, but had completely run out of time. And so, I brought the apples to Toronto in hopes of making the dessert there. Backstory with the fruit: I accidentally bought two kilograms instead of two pounds of apples. This was a tragic mistake.

Version two apple galette was made this past Friday night. It was better in every way: the crust was flakier (I actually followed the instructions) and the apples were more cinnamon-y and tossed in a light coating of lemon juice. The addition of some coarse sugar for decorative purposes didn’t hurt either.

Despite one galette being better than the former, both would definitely be passable in the great chaotic mess they call Thanksgiving dinner. This was a baby dessert (it made four medium-sized servings), so plan appropriately. And please god, be thankful for dessert. I sure as hell am.

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