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Saturday, August 24, 2013

late summer brunch





Late August in Vermont brings a mix of emotions underscored by new weather patterns.  The early mornings and late evenings begin to have a crisp nip to them and just as fear of the "w" word starts to creep in the late mornings and afternoons slip back into warm dreamy summer days.  The blue trumpet morning glories on my backyard fence have finally made their majestic appearance and to dine next to them is sublime. These are the times when I want to grab hold of the late summer harvest and make the most of easy alfresco meals. Beautiful small yellow Shiro and red Santa Rosa plum varieties from Scott Farm have been bountifully displayed at our local farmers market and I was seduced.  I purchased a pint of each and dreamed about a plum galette.

This morning I awoke to a desire for coffee 'out' and drove to a nearby coffee shop, not for the coffee or the food, both are less than mediocre, but the space is a dream, the perfect blend of Paris meets Vermont European architecture in a small French settled former mill town.  After arriving and taking in the glory of the space, I imagined, for the one hundredth time, how amazing it could be if only it were mine. I took one look at the reality, a teenage barista barely trained in the art of espresso and a meager offering of flat muffins and unrecognizable items wrapped in too much plastic, and turned on my heals and headed back home to make the food that I really wanted. 

As soon as I arrived in my warm sun-filled kitchen I put on some music and busied myself with a rustic plum galette, a variation on Martha Stewart's version I like to experiment with a mix of whole grain flours to create a hearty and a tad bit crumbly pastry dough. I also tend to like my sweets less sweet, especially when it's a breakfast pastry.  I very rarely use sugar in any of my pies, tarts or galettes, allowing the natural sugars in the fruits to present front and center. When I do add a sweetener, I use honey, maple syrup or a variety of raw sugars.  Usually a small addition of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg is all that's needed to marry with the fruit and the flavors live happily ever after.  Using fresh local organic ingredients is a blessing and intensifies the flavor and nutrients for all my recipes. I use freshly milled flours, local eggs, butter, milk and fruits in season.  That aside, I'm mostly drawn by visual color when curating any meal and strive for a beautiful balance of nutrients and presentation.  Feed the body, feed the artist's soul.

I have an egg in some form most days and I knew instantly that a coddled herbed egg would pair nicely with a warm slice of plum galette. Coddled eggs may at first seem too labor intensive to make for any occasion but they are truly quite simple and like a one dish casserole.  Have some good porcelain ramekins on hand along with some fresh herbs of your choice and a good aged cheddar and with your galette in the oven you're half-way to brunch.  Add the eggs to the oven for the last 18 -20 mins of the galette's baking time and you'll be freed up to make the espresso.

I'm a would-be barista, there is a barista class in my future, and I constantly research for the best, inexpensive machines to have at home.  The latest find and prospective purchase is the ROK espresso machine.  It is a perfect fit for me because it is almost completely operated on human energy, is made of stainless steel and fits an environmentally friendly lifestyle while offering another form of exercise in the morning! I encourage you to watch the demo video, if for nothing else but to listen to the inventor talk in his lovely British accent.  Possibly even more important than the brew for me is the cup in which it is served.  I love my Apilco porcelain latte bowls and use them every morning.  The way the bowl fits and feels in my hands is form meets function.  Simple elegant pleasures in the comfort of my own home. I'd rather invest in these $20 each bowls than to have a month's worth of 'to go' coffee.  I also am not a gadget cook, in fact, the simpler used and rustic tools, the better.  I feel more at ease with a fork instead of a food-processor, maybe because it recalls warm memories of making pies with my mom in our 70's kitchen, she showing me how to make a well in the center of the flour and then pouring in the iced-water and gradually blending with a fork until the dough comes together.  I am a 21st century cook, however, and I do own and use a food processor to save time with my full schedule.

With the smells of fresh brewed espresso melding with the buttery plum galette in it's last moments in the oven, I set up a lovely outdoor table next to the morning glories, then pulled the coddled eggs et all from the oven.  Maybe someday I'll serve this brunch menu in my beautiful Parisienne cafe atop that mill town hill.

Plum Gallette Recipe:
rustic plum galette, based on this recipe from martha stewart
serves 8
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup buckwheat flour + 2 tbsp
1 cup cold earth balance margarine, cut into pieces
4 tbsp + 1 tsp organic cane sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
nutmeg for dusting
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup raw almonds
5 or 6 fresh, local plums
1 tbsp almond milk - See more at: http://cupcakesandkale.blogspot.com/2011/09/plum-galette.html#sthash.endGlUPm.dpuf

1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c buckwheat flour + 2 TBS
1/2 c white flour
1 c unsalted pasture butter, cold and cut into 1/4 in. pieces
1 tsp sea salt (sel de Guerande)
1/2 c iced water
8-10 small yellow and red local plums
2 TBS raw honey, maple syrup, agave or raw sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 TBS heavy cream
*optional fresh basil or thyme
Serves 8

Combine flours and salt in a food processor or bowl and pulse or mix with fork, add the butter pieces and pulse or mix with fork until the mixture resembles course meal.  Add 1/4 c of the iced water and mix until dough just comes together, add more water as needed until dough is crumbly but comes together if you pinch with your fingers.  Form dough in to a ball, handling as little as possible, and refrigerate for one hour or you can roll it out on a flour dusted surface now.  If I'm in a hurry and don't have time to chill the dough for long, I roll it out to 1/8 in. thickness and place it on a baking sheet and refrigerate while preparing the fruit.



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash and dry the plums and cut in to quarters.  Assemble on pastry dough in a circular or free form pattern, sprinkle with cinammon, cardamom and nutmeg and drizzle with the natural sweetener of your choice.  Fold the corners of the dough in toward the center of the galette, turning the baking sheet clockwise as you fold to make an easy spiral fold.  Brush the crust with a bit of cream or not and sprinkle with a light dusting of raw sugar if you like. 



Bake on rack in top third of your oven for approximately 45 mins or until golden brown and the fruit is bubbly.  Remove and cool on rack for 10 mins before transferring to a serving plate.  Optional garnish with fresh herbs, basil or thyme.



rustic plum galette, based on this recipe from martha stewart
serves 8
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/2 cup buckwheat flour + 2 tbsp
1 cup cold earth balance margarine, cut into pieces
4 tbsp + 1 tsp organic cane sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cardamom
nutmeg for dusting
1/2 cup ice water
1/4 cup raw almonds
5 or 6 fresh, local plums
1 tbsp almond milk - See more at: http://cupcakesandkale.blogspot.com/2011/09/plum-galette.html#sthash.endGlUPm.dpuf
 Herb Coddled Eggs Recipe:

Cultured pasture butter, salted / 1/2 tsp per ramekin
8 Medium eggs (local and organic if possible)
Cream (local and organic if possible)
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper corns
Aged cow or goat cheddar / organic and local if possible
Fresh herbs / oregano, thyme, basil
Boiling water
lemon zest
Serves 4
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Butter the inside base and walls of four 2 1/2" ramekins and place in a 2" deep baking dish. Place 1/2 tsp of butter in each ramekin, crack two eggs into each and top with shaved cheddar slices, 1/2 tsp cream, the herbs and salt and pepper to season. Cover each ramekin tightly with tin foil.  Pour boiling water into the baking dish to cover half of the height of the ramekins.  Bake for 18 - 22 mins until whites are set and yolks are soft but not runny.  Sprinkle with lemon zest and additional chunky sea salt to taste.






 

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