"They’re messy. They’re forgiving. They’re the pastry form we need in 2020." New York Times
Well I think this is dinner tonight - or something like it. David set me a challenge of onions and tomatoes, which at first I dismissed as being far too broad a research project. But then up popped The Guardian newsletter in my email inbox and there was a recipe from Nigel Slater called Tomato and shallot tart which was just too much of a coincidence to ignore really. Mind you I am conscious of not having any really good summer tomatoes like him. He was waffling on about the glory of the summer tomato and the great variety on offer. Mine will just be greenhouse grown truss tomatoes I fear - some of which are past their best. Nevertheless I think it will be good. Will I be able to resist adding some cheese now - that is the question.
And although Nigel just calls this a tart, it's actually the oh so trendy galette, or free-form tart as it is often called. I was very conscious of the fact that they seem to be in at the moment - these tarts, where you roll out some pastry (any pastry), plonk fruit or a savoury mix of veggies on top, roll over the edges and cook. Anything goes.
"Once you discover the versatility of the galette and its ability to act as a template, it’s hard not to look at everything in the world with one question: could I put it in a galette?" Meera Sodha
We have grown used to the kind of galette shown above in recent times - and indeed here are a couple of trendy examples: Beetroot and feta galette with za'atar and honey from Sami Tamimi and Thomasina Miers' and Marmalade and apple galette. There are thousands of others all over the net and filling your trendy cookbooks.
And they are easy. The main things to avoid are having your pastry too thick (too stodgy) or too thin (it might collapse in the cooking), having your pastry too wet and sticky - same thing about it collapsing - and too much filling - it might spill over the edge, and it might make it all too soggy. So keep a watch and you will probably be OK. You could stop the sogginess by sprinkling the base with something like cheese or breadcrumbs or polenta, mustard, jam or somebody even suggested marmite. I have to say I was very tempted by the apple and marmalade version shown above and may well give it a go some time soon.
In my head though, I thought a galette was rather more classy looking than the determinedly rustic look of these modern galettes. And indeed these versions do exist: Peach and almond galettes from Coles; Pear and chocolate (again!); Bacon and egg galettes from It's Not Complicated and Valli Little's Galette aux pommes. And I'm pretty sure these are rather more like what I thought of as galettes.
And these are not even all round, as some suggest is a common feature:
"the one thing they have in common is that they’re flat, round and quintessentially French ... Provided a dish is flat, round and French, there’s a good chance it’s been referred to as a galette at some point." Great British Chefs
Sticking with the round and thin idea there are also savoury mostly, but occasionally fruit, versions which don't involve pastry at all. The idea here is to slice your vegetables thin and then fry them together so that they sort of form a plate:
"The potato galette is a prime example of this – wafer-thin slices of potato are drenched in melted butter infused with thyme and garlic, then arranged into a circular pattern and baked until tender. You’ll find a similar style of galette made with courgettes, tomatoes and other thinly sliced vegetables – in this case, it’s a reference to the shape rather than the traditional Norman recipe." Great British Chefs
As here: Potato galette from Coles; Potato galette from Cooking with Shereen - and just to demonstrate how popular these are - this particular recipe has had 18 million views on Tik-Tok; and Stephanie Alexander in her book Cooking and Travelling in South-west France has a recipe for Pommes Sarladaises in which the potatoes are cooked in duck fat and sprinkled with truffles - alas no recipe online. The tomato one is Baked tomato with goat's cheese, tapenade and pumpkin seeds galette and alas I have no recipe.
We talked about the Galette des Rois before in my recent post on Pithiviers but there is yet one more form of galette which is a quite different thing - mostly not even round. It's a pancake from Brittany, and indeed if you go to Brittany you will find them everywhere. The pancake itself is special - a large crepe kind of pancake but made with buckwheat flour and traditionally topped with ham and eggs, or occasionally rolled around a sausage. Gabriel Gaté demonstrated his Breton buckwheat galette when he was doing the Taste le Tour segments and Luke Nguyen also made Galettes with ham and eggs when he visited France for an SBS series. In the series he often gave a Vietnamese twist to a French dish, but in this case he stuck with tradition.
So there you go - galettes. give the rough and ready version a go next time you have a glut of something or you want to try something different. And I must stop there because it's time to go and cook.