Wow. I really let things slide didn't I?
I honestly did you all a favor. I've been feeling a bit deflated. A bit uninspired on the writing front of late.
It's not that the food in my life has been uninspiring, or inspired for that matter, lately. It's been wonderful. I've spent the greater part of most days dreaming up various concoctions to try my newfound skills on. No, there's no lack of inspiration when food is on my mind. But it's Sunday, I'm on a one day hiatus. My mind is on other things today.
It's the writing that has me stuck. I'm on the precipice of my return home. Close enough that I can taste it, but just far enough that I can't quite touch it. It's all I can think about.
Maybe if you've read my old posts you gathered I'm a bit of a homebody, and if you drew that conclusion you'd be right on the money. I think I've spent most of my life running from that label, but it's mine and it's high timed I owned it.
I spent my formative years trying to get away from home. I spent summers in high school on a coast far from the southwest. I moved away for my first year of college. I spent a summer abroad. I made a brief move to Chapel Hill. Oh, and that's the short list. As I did these things I spent the greater part of those times missing home, forgetting to live in the moment. I know me. I know me well, but I keep insisting on adventure. Sheesh. Not that I regret a second of it, but sometimes I regret it a wee bit at the time. A wee bit.
I want to first allay your fears, I have been living deeply and religiously in the moment on this particular trip (you were scared, weren't you?). I've balanced homesickness with a hearty dose of go-getter-ness. I've honestly been too busy to think. I allow myself a few fleeting moments a week for wistfulness and then I'm off keeping myself immersed in baking and watching episodes of Love Boat. But you know what? I'm tired. I'm feeling sort of over it all. I just miss home. I see no reason to push through it anymore. Home is three weeks away, three weeks that I am really hoping will fly by. No amount of episodes of the Love Boat seem to speed things along though.
So with that, I apologize for my absence. I offer you only an excuse and an apology and the hope that I can pull it together to blog a few more times before I depart... because my days have been rather entertaining of late. And like I said, there's no shortness of inspiration here. Saturdays at school have been bustling with delicious activity. Shall I share?? A few weeks ago I decided a galette extravaganza was in order. Galettes and a handful of tiny palmiers to boot.
It was hard for me to pick the best of the bunch. There was apple rosemary which is a combination not to be missed. I made a tomato, gruyere and mustard galette... any complaints? I didn't think so. Then there was the whole pear tart filled with almond cream. Like I said, the competition was stiff. And of course, the teensy tiny palmiers made with leftover puff pastry from the galette shells. Such cute tiny babies!!
Like I said, I'm definitely not picking favorites here, but I think I'll share the pear recipe since the other two galettes were followed more or less straight from the recipes I found online. With the pear I took it in my own direction. It's really delicious and the only thing I might add is a drizzle of a lightly sweetened cream sauce or a tiny scoop of vanilla ice cream, just balance out the intense fruitiness of the tart.
I should note, the recipe is an odd combination of volume measurements and weight measurements. I apologize for that. At my "home" here I have no scale, and at school I have no cups or teaspoons. I made the pear filling at home and the pastry at school... so you can see the conundrum. I do hope this doesn't stop you from trying this recipe because it really is... well, killer.
Pear Almond Tart
Adapted from Leitas Culinaria
2 cups white wine
2 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 tsp Earl Grey tea
3 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and halved (reserve the stems for decoration)
Bring the wine, water, cinnamon, sugar, vanilla bean, and tea leaves to a boil in a large saucepan. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes, strain, and return the liquid to pan.
Add the pear halves, and simmer the fruit over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender. Remove to a plate to cool.
Adapted from Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas
66g almond meal
20g bread flour
15g almond paste
Cream butter and sugar together until light. Add eggs gradually until incorporated. Add almond meal, then flour and almond paste to combine. Add rum to combine.
Blitz Puff Pastry
Adapted from Advanced Bread and Pastry by Michel Suas
218g bread flour
164g butter, very cold
2g lemon juice
Sift flour and salt together. With a stand mixer cut in butter. You want to leave it in very large chunks, tablespoon sized. Mix very cold water and lemon juice together. Add gradually to the dough. The dough will come together, but leave it shaggy and be sure not to overmix. At this point press it out flat into a large rectangle, wrap it tightly and refrigerate overnight.
The next day roll pastry out to a rectangle about 4 inches by 8 inches. Fold it like a letter, bringing the right third over the middle third and folding the left on top of it. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes. This was the first turn and make sure to mark it somewhere so you don't lose track of how many folds you have done.
Repeat this procedure 4 more times for a total of 5 letter folds, always rolling the dough with the open edges to the left and right of you. Refrigerate the dough after each turn. Use flour when rolling but brush off any excess after each turn to avoid getting too much flour on the dough. Always be sure to keep the dough very cold so that the butter doesn't melt into the dough.
Cut the puff pastry into circles 5 inches in diameter. Place a dollop of almond cream in the center of the pastry, about 1 1/2 tsp worth. Place a pear half in the center. Fill the hollow in the pear with almond cream. Stick the other half of the pear in and sandwich tightly together. Gather the pastry in pleats up around the pear. You may even want to set it in a small tart dish to ensure that the sides don't slip down during baking.
Bake about 20 - 30 mins at 375 degrees. The pastry should be well baked and medium golden. Add the pear stem back in as decoration before serving.
Have puff pastry remaining? Roll it into tiny palmier shapes, douse in sugar and bake!