Baking | Savoury Chicken Galette … Cherry Tomato with Green Garlic Pesto & Roasted Veggies with Smoked Sea Salt {Baking with Julia}

“Ingredients are not sacred. The art of cuisine is sacred.”
Tanith Tyrr

Savoury Chicken GaletteIt was a savoury chicken galette waiting to happen, or maybe wanting to be baked. It’s a result of blogger interactions, loads of food talk, some food cravings, events missed and repented, flavours virtually thrown into the air and talked about….Savoury Chicken GaletteI missed a picnic a few weeks ago with the Delhi food bloggers bunch. There was so much talk about food, what who was making, baking, getting,  that I had pangs …not hunger pangs but pangs of missing out on something good!  The Great Cookaroo threw in yolks after yolks to make her to go pastry cream from Dorie Greenspans Baking with Julia. I had the book on the shelf. A favourite from a favourite food blogger who gifted it to me from Bangalore. {Thank you again Suma!}

Savoury Chicken Galette Then there was talk of pickled green garlic pesto which immediately threw my tastebuds in overdrive … that sounded drop dead delicious. I wanted some! My chance soon came as a bunch of us met again at the Ty.phoo Tea & Food pairing eventSangeeta  carried a bottle of pickled green garlic pesto for me.

Savoury Chicken Galette with green garlic pestoSmothered on a toast the next morning, it had a comforting homey feel! It had all the hints of the green chutney sandwiches my dad often made … beautiful flavours that teased the palette. As I sat in the kitchen, the laundry machine whirring punishingly in the background, I reached out for Baking with Julia! The book is a winner. Read it, bake from it, drool over it, learn from it. I wanted to bake something savoury that morning, and settled for Cheese & Tomato Galette!

Savoury Chicken Galette The galette dough was done in seconds, a Flo Baker recipe from the book. Don’t you love a dough that comes together in a heartbeat, is fuss free, smooth, pliable and uses pantry staples? I didn’t even need to rest it since it held beautifully, winter ensuring a fridge like cold kitchen. {Feedback from batch #2: An overnight rest in the fridge yields a pliable nice dough too.}

Savoury Chicken Galette I used everything I had on hand! Pickled green garlic pesto, mozzarella, chicken salami, then some roasted onion balsamic jam, cherry tomatoes, smoked sea salt, pepper. Finished it off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and fresh garlic greens.

Savoury Chicken GaletteThe green garlic pesto was a bit spicy / chili for the younger fellow, but hit all the right spots with the daughter and husband who love everything chili! You can find the recipe for the Pickled Green Garlic Pesto {or lehsun ka achaar} on Sangeeta’s blog. Use extra virgin olive oil to get a more pesto like feel to it {as she did for my batch}, and reduce the chilies if you don’t like it too hot! BTW, Sangeeta does great personalised  diet plans too, so do stop by if you need one!

Savoury Chicken Galette You can do pretty much anything with a ‘pastry canvas’ like this. To keep the younger one happy, I made a second lot with roasted bell peppers and onions {roasting done in the Philips AirFryer, 10 minutes was all it took}, topped with sliced chicken sausages marinated briefly in a honey-mustard-garlic mix. Keep it vegetarian with roasted veggies, caramelised onion & garlic jam and feta, maybe tomatoes.  It’s smooth, fun to roll out, and even more fun to ruffle over the filling to give it the characteristic galette feel.

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{Baking} CHOCOLATE PLUM CLAFOUTIS … inspired yet again!

“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky
I am fascinated by what Katie ate … what she ate all winter, summer and in the seasons in between! Do I sound obsessed? Well maybe I am, but since the word sounds rather harsh, I shall stick with ‘fascinated‘. You might have guessed. Yes indeed, I have a new favourite blog on the block, and this one is an utterly charming one – What Katie Ate, ‘all the way from Sydney‘; a ‘foodie photography blog’.
I discovered her photography quite a while ago googling for pictures for the Daring Bakers Pavlova Challenge, and I was completely smitten. I love the old world rustic charm her pictures offer, very retro and very classic. They instantly struck a chord with me, and dragged me into their realm. I was lost amidst her foodie pictures for a long time, with recipes that seemed to take a new meaning. Food here meant so much more…
A bookmarking frenzy followed, but I soon got involved with work at home and completely forgot about the recipes until I luckily found the very last batch of plums in the market a week ago. Yes, the very last as now they are truly gone. A cherry chocolate clafoutis from What Katie Ate was high on my list, the recipe easy as could be  from Julia Childs Mastering The Art of French Cooking. At the very bottom of the  post, I read that any stone fruit would work; you could see me SMILE!
I made Olive Oil Schiacciata from her blog last week, and some Triple Chocolate Toblerone Muffins day before yesterday. I wanted to make the clafoutis as well, but was dog tired that day. A quick check of the ingredients late at night had the men in the house peering over my shoulder telling me how hungry they still were, and that the dessert looked so good. There was no escape, and as promised, I had the clafoutis going yesterday morning.
A dessert as simple as this is not to be given the pass. It takes all of ten minutes to put together, about 30 minutes of baking, and 10 minutes of cleaning up. What luxury! Oh and of course, about an hour extra to take pictures, but then, that’s the joy of food blogging! What is food without pictures???
I made individual servings in ramekins I had picked up from Sydney a couple of years ago. Maybe they were a little smaller than regular ramekins, and I had some batter remaining so I filled up a few mini molds too, adding my last few frozen cherries to the plums. Luckily Katie mentioned that the clafoutis deflates pretty soon, so it was a race to get the pictures, but the puffiness was gone within 5 minutes of the blighters being out of the oven. The little rum baba molds really puffed up beautifully, and I am bummed I couldn’t get a decent pic of those… Well, whatevah!!
 So here we are, with a final au revoir to my favourite fruity season. Come back soon please!
Notes to self: Don’t forget to add some sugar on top next time. That vanilla sugar would have done these some good. Also, if the plums are tart, like mine were, remember to add 2-3 extra tbsp of sugar. Another thing, don’t over-bake the custards. I should have really taken the rum baba molds out 5-7 minutes before the rest, as they got ever so slightly rubbery. A smattering of chocolate chips would have added to the indulgence, and next year I might substitute 1/2 a cup of milk with low fat cream.
Chocolate Plum Clafoutis
Minimally adapted from What Katie Ate
500gms plums, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup of plain flour
1/4 cup of good cocoa powder {I used Valrhona}
A pinch of salt
2/3 cup of vanilla sugar
1 1/4 cups of milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, room temperature
Method:
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease either one single 10-inch flan/pie dish, heavy cast iron skillet/frying pan, or 6-8 individual flan dishes.
Pit and chop the plums. Arrange in the dish cut-side facing upwards. At this stage, an optional extra is to include a handful of chocolate chips in with the cherries.
Put the flour, vanilla sugar, cocoa and salt into the processor and whiz for 10-15 seconds to mix. Then add the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and process again till well mixed into a batter, about 30 seconds.
Pour the batter carefully over the fruit. Sprinkle a tbsp of castor sugar {a handful for a single large dish} on top and bake in the oven for approx. 20-25 minutes for small ramekins, or an hour for 1 single large dish.
Note: This can also be made with plums, pears, peaches or any stone fruit you like. Serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream if you like.

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FRESH PEACH GINGER PEASANT CAKES ~ JULIE & JULIA ~ A vegetarian twist to her clafoutis!

“I think the inner person is the most important. . . . I would like to see an invention that keeps the mind alert. That’s what is important.”
Julia Child

The release of Julie & Julia has led to a Julia Child wave among blogs, food blogs in particular. Elle’s New England Kitchen & Food Blogga featured some beautiful blog posts on the film. Do head for their blogs as Elle & Susan have some sweet sound bites on the film. The film’s official blog, Julie & Julia also is well worth a visit. The other day I saw a beautiful Cherry clafoutis that Val posted @ More Than Burnt Toast. It was for an event that Helene @ Le Cusine de Helene had tweeted out for a Julia Child MAFTC challenge. MAFTC?Mastering the Art of French Cooking’, of course! I was dashed I had missed it. But Helene, being the sweetheart that she is, retweeted it to me, & here I am! Thank you Helene! We ♥ challenges like this. FUN!! Vive la TWITTER!!
(Don’t you just ♥ it?) Here are a couple of tweets about the MAFTC as i got them…
  • RT Announcing Mastering the Art of French Cooking Challenge. Pick any recipe and blog, tweet about it nx Friday. Who’s in???
  • @CulinaryMelange @cardamomaddict @kbgerth @ABCcooking @vindee @kitchenpuppies @Dragonskitchen @mollierosev are you in for MTAFC Friday?
Julia Child (born Julia Carolyn McWilliams August 15, 1912 – August 13, 2004) was an American chef, author and television personality, who introduced French cuisine and cooking techniques to the American mainstream, through her many cookbooks and television programs. Her most famous works are the 1961 cookbook Mastering the Art of French Cooking and the television series The French Chef.
In August 2002, Julie Powell started documenting online her daily experiences cooking each of the 524 recipes in Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and she later began reworking that blog, The Julie/Julia Project, into a book. In March 2008, director-screenwriter Nora Ephron began filming Julie & Julia, adapted from Powell’s memoir, Julie & Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The paperback was retitled Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously (Back Bay Books, 2006). Ephron’s film, the first major motion picture based on a blog, is scheduled for August 7, 2009 release. Meryl Streep stars as Julia Child and Amy Adams portrays Julie Powell.

Now onto the food bit … ie clafoutis. Clafoutis, sometimes in Anglophone countries spelled clafouti, is a custard-like baked French dessert that is typically made by baking fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and a batter, somewhat similar to pancake batter, in a baking dish. Originally from Limousin, the dish’s name comes from Occitan clafotís, from the verb clafir, meaning “to fill up” (implied: “the batter with cherries”). Clafoutis apparently spread throughout France during the 19th century.

As a matter of strange coincidence, I was to take a peep again into a charming blog, Luna Cafe, around this time. It’s a wonderful place, full of exciting ideas, and flavours that are so ‘me’. It’s funny, but each post of SMS Bradleys‘ has flavours and choices I would inherently turn to. This time was no exception. She posted a Fresh Apricot Ginger Peasant Cake & my heart skipped a beat. Glory be thy name! It was a rather intriguing take on the clafoutis, in her words, “Drawing inspiration from Julia Child who describes this classic dessert beautifully, along with several variations, in the inestimable, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume 1. My version is on the other end of the spectrum. It contains no eggs and is cake-like (not a pancake, not a custard) with a decidedly chewy texture, which everyone who tastes it loves. I don’t recall where I stumbled on the unusual formula here, but I have not encountered it anywhere since.”

Well said… This cake is utterly simple to make, tastes as good as the fruit you put in, is eggless, yet cake like. It has this wonderfully chewy texture, with the fruit & batter combining to create magic. It’s lovely served warm, light enough for an afternoon tea, but is as good served chilled with some unsweetened cream, or even ice-cream. It tasted good with the Roasted Peach & Plum Ice-cream I had just made. The ice-cream, which is low fat & eggless, complimented the peasant cake beautifully. A dusting of almond slivers, a few snips of homemade candied ginger made it an even happier combination.Perfect for summer … light & endearing, the cakes are good for breakfast too. Chilling these enhanced the flavour of the ginger within, & resulted in instant crystallised ginger addiction in the kids! I have never seen them take to ginger so well! The cake is best made with good quality apricots, but I did pretty well with fresh peaches. Other fruit suggestions include blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, or sour cherries.

To quote SMS Bradley, Apricots release their full depth of flavor only when cooked, thus I am always looking for ways to treat them to a little heat. They are the perfect fruit for this simple cake, but blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, or sour cherries will also work beautifully.FRESH PEACH GINGER PEASANT CAKES
as adapted from this recipe at Luna Cafe
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 peaches, halved, seeds removed
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
3 tablespoons chopped candied ginger
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

Cake Batter
Ingredients:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk, plus 1 tablespoon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Garnish
Powdered sugar in a shaker
Slivered almonds (optional)

Method:

  • Butter a 10½-inch diameter ceramic pie plate with a 5-6 cup capacity, or 6-8 small shallow individual tart pans. (Another shape of shallow baking dish with the same capacity will also work.) You may need to use a brush to lightly coat the edges of the pie plate with butter. Reserve.
  • Halve the peaches, pit, & roughly chop for small tart pans, or quarter (bigger pieces for 1 large dish. Put these in a big bowl with the vanilla sugar,candied ginger, vanilla extract and lime juice. Gently combine the peaches with the other ingredients. Reserve.

To prepare the cake batter:

  • In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, the remaining 3/4 cup vanilla sugar, and the baking powder. With a wooden spoon or whisk, beat in the milk & vanilla extract to produce a smooth batter. Don’t over beat. However, the batter should not have too many lumps either. Pour the batter into the center of the buttered dish. It will spread out on its own.
  • Place a spoonful of peaches, and some of their remaining liquid evenly over the batter, leaving a 1/4–inch open border of batter around the outside edges. I also did a few with spooning the fruit in first & the batter over. The first was prettier, but both dramatic! For a single large gratin dish, place all the fruit on top of the batter, & leave a 3/4″ border. (this will allow the batter to rise dramatically at the edges).
  • Place on a rack in the upper third of a preheated 190°C oven. Set an edged baking sheet on the rack below to catch any overflow.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes (a little less for smaller cakes), or until the sides are fully puffed, the center is slightly puffed, and the top is golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cook for 15 minutes before cutting / serving. To serve, dust with powdered sugar and cut into wedges for 1 large pie, or as is for smaller cakes.
  • Serves 4-6

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