Cherry chocolate Gruyere galette

I’ve been hanging on this recipe for a while and couldn’t think of something to say about it.

I mean, it’s just a galette with a touch of bitterness from the super-dark chocolate, an unexpected salty bite from the Gruyere cheese, a rich and flaky crust, all capped off with sweet and juicy in-season cherries.

chocolate cherry Gruyere galetteDo I really need to say anything else?

Cherry Chocolate Gruyere Galette
Crust from Sweet Galette Dough by David Lebovitz for Fine Cooking

Serves 6-8

Crust
11 1/4 oz. (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 oz. (about 2/3 cup) ice water

Galette
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated
1/2 ounce dark chocolate, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Stir flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until crumbly, but distinct chunks of butter remain — really, big chunks are good!Add ice water, then process just until dough comes together, no more than 30 seconds. Turn dough onto work surface and gather and knead together just slightly. If is fine if you see streaks of butter on the surface, as this is what will give you delightful flakiness. Divide into two equal pieces and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (This galette only requires one disc of dough. Wrap the other very well and freeze for later use, thawing in the fridge for one day before using. [I used a leftover disc for this one.])

While dough is chilling, mix grated Gruyere and chopped dark chocolate into the cream cheese. Set aside.

Preheat oven with baking sheet or pizza pan in it to 400 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll one disc of chilled dough out into an approximate circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper.

Spread cream cheese mixture on the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Starting in the middle, place the cherry halves in a single layer, face down, over all of the cream cheese mixture. Fold the excess dough over the edge of the filling, pleating as you go. Brush the melted butter along the exposed crust with a pastry brush.

Slide the galette, parchment paper and all, onto preheated baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. When edges are browned, remove pan from oven. Slide the parchment paper and galette onto a wire cooling rack to prevent it from getting soggy while it cools.

Enjoy while slightly warm or at room temperature. Or, store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days and let come to room temperature before serving. If desired, garnish with curls of dark chocolate once cooled.

Fig and honeyed mascarpone galette

Fig season! Who can complain? Well obviously I can, because you know what sucks about figs? Because of their delicate nature, they’re so often in those horrible plastic clamshell packages to protect them during shipping. If you buy prepackaged figs, you’re going to end up with at least a couple that were picked too early. It’s my understanding that when you pick a fig too early, it will “ripen” on the counter in the sense that it will get softer. But that complex, oozy, honey-sweet taste? Not gonna happen.

So when my friend Laura told me that there’s a fruit bearing fig-tree in a park near my house? Shut the front door!

At the earliest opportunity, I rode my bike over there with a grocery-bag lined backpack, a vision of fig-filled galette running through my head. And then? I couldn’t find the damn tree if my life had depended on it. I texted Laura for further clarification of the location (what I actually asked was “uhhh, can you send me the Google Maps coordinates?”). I rode around for a bit waiting for a reply, and then remembered, oh yeah. She’s in Tanzania.

She hopped on the internet that weekend to email me a screenshot of the Google Map (and presumably do other things). But for this galette I had already filled my cart at the grocery store. It was still delicious, and, I must warn you, almost tooth-achingly sweet. It’s perfect for a brunch spread, especially since it can be made ahead of time and will hold in the fridge for several days. If you wanted it to, it could function as a dessert — seriously, all those figs make it fit for the most hardcore sweet tooth.

fig and honeyed mascarpone galette

Fig and Honeyed Mascarpone Galette
Crust from Sweet Galette Dough by David Lebovitz for Fine Cooking

Serves 6-8

Crust
11 1/4 ounces (2-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
5 ounces very cold water

Galette
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon orange blossom water
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds fresh, ripe figs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
super flaky sea salt, to garnish

Stir flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add chilled butter and pulse until crumbly, but distinct chunks of butter remain — really, big chunks are good!Add ice water, then process just until dough comes together, no more than 30 seconds. Turn dough onto work surface and gather and knead together just slightly. If is fine if you see streaks of butter on the surface, as this is what will give you delightful flakiness. Divide into two equal pieces and shape into discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. (This galette only requires one disc of dough. Wrap the other very well and freeze for later use, thawing in the fridge for one day before using.)

While dough is chilling, stir honey and orange blossom water into mascarpone until fully combined. Then slice figs into quarters.

Preheat oven with baking sheet or pizza pan in it to 400 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll one disc of chilled dough out into an approximate circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer to a piece of parchment paper.

Spread mascarpone mixture on the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Layer fig quarters in concentric circles on top of the mascarpone. Don’t worry about being perfect — it’s rustic! Fold the excess dough over the edge of the filling, pleating as you go. Brush the melted butter along the exposed crust with a pastry brush.

Slide the galette, parchment paper and all, onto preheated baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. When edges are browned, remove pan from oven. Slide the parchment paper and galette onto a wire cooling rack to prevent it from getting soggy while it cools.

Enjoy while slightly warm or at room temperature. Or, store covered in the fridge for up to 4 days and let come to room temperature before serving. Sprinkle with a bit of super flaky sea salt just before eating for added flavor and crunch.

Ginger-almond breakfast cookies for hurried mornings (i.e. every morning)

Honestly, I’m usually pretty boring about weekday breakfasts. I just keep a jar of peanut butter and a sleeve of rice cakes in my desk at work. I used to supplement by picking up fresh fruit when I passed Whole Foods on my way in.

But it finally happened. My office moved to the suburbs. Yeah, there’s still a lot of businesses close by. But “close by” used to mean across the street. Now it’s a ten minute drive.

Gone are the days of popping over to pick up fresh fruit. Ditto on the days when I want to treat myself to a croissant or muffin.

So I decided to look for something else I can treat myself with. Something that is tasty, but still packed with fiber and protein. Something that will store well in the freezer. Something that will allow me to at least make an attempt to face my mornings with alacrity.

I must say that these zippy little breakfast cookies fit the bill.

ginger-almond breakfast cookie

Added bonus: these are accidentally almost vegan. The only non-vegan ingredient is honey. I’m not vegan and a big fan of the taste of honey, and the vegan friend that I see most often is willing to let it slide on honey, so that’s what I use. If you’re strict, you can easily use agave nectar.

Ginger-Almond Breakfast Cookies
Adapted from Oatmeal Breakfast Cookie by Laura

Makes 16 cookies

1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup almond butter
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 heaping cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (omit if your almond butter is salted)
1/3 cup roughly chopped crystallized ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, flax, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, salt and baking soda.

In your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat applesauce, almond butter, and honey or agave on medium speed until fully combined. Add extracts and beat again briefly.

Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir on low. Once batter is fully integrated, fold in chopped crystallized ginger.

Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared cookie sheets (use a big spoon from your cutlery set). I put 8 cookies per sheet — two rows of four, evenly spaced, which makes a medium-sized cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until browned. Rotate your pans halfway through baking time to ensure even browning. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Once cool, wrap individually in plastic wrap. Put wrapped cookies in a gallon size freezer bag, suck out the air with a straw, then store for up to three months in the freezer.

Let thaw for about a half hour before eating (or overnight in the fridge). Alternatively, zap a frozen cookie for about 15 seconds in the microwave to thaw and slightly warm it.

These are smaller than the average breakfast cookie you might get from the store or from most other recipes — I have a small appetite in the morning. Feel free to either make them bigger (and cook for a bit longer), or smear on a bit of Greek yogurt as “frosting” to add a bit more heft.

Seitan guisado

This is another recipe from my cousin that I spent time adapting to be vegetarian instead of making my sister’s wedding gift. What can I say? It looked intriguing.

seitan guisado

I’ve tried this with a few different types of seitan, and my favorite is Companion Cha’i-Pow-Yu, or braised seitan tidbits. It kind of looks like dog food when it comes out of the can, but please trust me when I say it’s chewy yet tender, and intensely flavorful. The tidbits are packed in oil, so for almost all applications I choose to rinse them before use. The soybean oil that they’re packed in is probably not as tasty as whatever I might marinate or cook them in, so it’s an important step.

I bought the Cha’i-Pow-Yu at one of the Asian markets in my neck of the woods, H-Mart, but you can also buy it online. If you can’t find it, or want to use something you already have, you could use 16 – 20 ounces of any vegetarian chicken substitute, from fried tofu cubes to Quorn or Morningstar Farms.

Seitan Guisado
Adapted from a recipe from my cousin Katie

Serves 4-6

2 cans seitan tidbits (I use the 10 ounce Companion Cha’i-Pow-Yu)
1 large lime
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chik’n seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt, to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar (brown is better but white is fine)
2 tablespoons tomato paste

Squeeze the juice of your lime into a large bowl. Toss drained and rinsed seitan chunks in lime juice until covered, then drain most but not all of the excess juice. Add chik’n seasoning, red onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, oregano, thyme, cilantro, and a pinch of salt; toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes. (This is a good time to start cooking the gandules con coco.)

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until oil shimmers and easily coats the bottom of the pan. Stir in sugar and cook one to two minutes.

Dump your marinated seitan and veggies into the pot, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer about fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften.

Reduce heat to low. Add tomato paste, then measure 1/2 cup of water and add a little bit to the pot, stirring to combine. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are completely softened, stirring in more water from the 1/2 cup as needed to extend the sauce and prevent it from thickening too much. If you finish this before the gandules, keep it warm over super low heat until they are ready — it’ll be fine!

Serve with gandules con coco over rice.

Gandules con coco and gift procrastination

My sister got married in September of 2010, at the courthouse. On her and her husband’s one year anniversary, they had a “wedding,” commitment ceremony, whatever you want to call it. I guess my sister regretted never having a “real” wedding. (I so disagree with that mindset, so I won’t even get started.)

Anyway, I never got them a wedding gift the first time around. (I was actually five minutes late because of traffic, so I missed the whole thing!) I figured I’d make up for it and give them a good gift for the commitment ceremony. My brother-in-law is a chef and my sister can’t cook worth a damn, so I thought it’d be fun to make a family cookbook — collect recipes from all of our family members to compile them into one of those printed photo books. Throw some photos of them and the kids in there and boom, instant keepsake.

Yeah, I haven’t finished it yet.

I tell myself “you have a year after the wedding to give a gift” but technically their “wedding” was a year after their wedding and oh god if I think about it too much my head starts to hurt.

I just haven’t had the time to perfect it. I’ll find the time eventually.

However, I somehow already found the time to adapt this recipe my cousin sent me for their book, in order to make it vegetarian-friendly and more coherent, and cook it. Twice.

gandules con coco

Gandules, also known as pigeon peas, can usually be found canned in the Hispanic section of better stocked grocery stores (I found them at the nice local Giant, but not the horrible Safeway that never has what you need). I also found them at a nearby Asian market, H-Mart, which has a pretty large Hispanic section.

On a side note before I get on with it: I am generally not a cilantro person. I guess I’ll blame it on some genetic thing, since that’s what people always say when I say I don’t like it. So, while I wouldn’t go out of my way to buy it for this dish, it doesn’t ruin it for me either. Since I had it on hand, I used it, and it cooks down so much that it doesn’t have the gross “what rotted in the bottom of the crisper” taste that I generally think it has. (“But it tastes so fresh and crisp!” Sorry, my tongue is broken in this regard.) So for the other haters out there — try it in this, you might like it?

Gandules con Coco
Adapted from a recipe from my cousin Katie

Serves 4-6 as a side

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1/4 green bell pepper, diced
1 15 ounce can gandules, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon chik’n seasoning of your choice (or a crumbled veggie bouillon cube)
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1/4 teaspoon salt, more to taste

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, oregano, thyme, and cilantro and saute for two minutes.

Stir in gandules and two tablespoons of water and allow to cook for about five minutes, or until the water evaporates.

Stir in chik’n seasoning and an additional 1/2 cup of water. Mash with a potato masher while simmering, still over medium heat. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn’t stick, until the liquid cooks away.

Reduce heat to medium low, then add coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for about twenty minutes, stirring often, until thickened to a creamy consistency. Add salt to taste.

Remove from heat and let sit five minutes to thicken up a bit.

Serve over rice. This is technically a side dish, but could easily be enjoyed as a full meal. However, I like to eat it with seitan guisado.