Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Absolutely the Last Gasp of Summer: Alexandra's Tomato Galette

It's completely inappropriate to blog about a tomato and corn recipe in November. I know. However, if you're a huge summer tomato fan and a lover of fresh corn--as I am as a proud New Jersey native--you love both of these foods and you seek to celebrate them, especially when they get together, as in this wonderful end of summer soup. But when I discover a recipe this good (even in the fall when even the farmers market purveyors will tell you that the corn and tomatoes are past their prime), I have to blog!

So what can I say? I'll start by saying, "Mea culpa," and then offer profuse apologies for recommending a recipe that you really shouldn't make until next July. Second, this is late because I'm backed up in my blog postings by about three weeks (you should see all my draft posts awaiting publication!). And third, I can truthfully claim that I made this recipe from ingredients bought at my local farmers market in mid October, thus allowing me to adhere to my locavore orthodoxy.

As mentioned in my previous blog posting, I have a few new favorite blogs, among them Alexandra's Kitchen, which was mentioned in the Bitten column as (drum rolls please) "The First Featured Reader Blog." I clicked on over and was seduced by the beautiful photography and immediately wanted to make the quiche (and homemade creme fraiche) but then I realized I had on hand the corn and tomatoes to use and settled on the tomato galette with cornmeal pastry while my creme yogurt-ized itself into creme fraiche. Of course then I saw a link to the artisan bread and I thought, "Thank God it's the weekend otherwise I'd have to lose sleep to get through all these recipes that are on her first page alone!"

So Friday night a couple weeks ago was devoted to making the galette and the bread dough, which worked out fine really. Once I'd made the corn meal pastry, I switched to the bread dough while the pastry rested, and then let the bread dough do its rise while I went about sauteing the onions and corn for the galette. By the time the galette came out of the oven, the dough had completed its rise and was placed in the fridge to rest until baking the next morning. (Incidentally, you know you're more than slightly food-obsessed when you're glad to have no plans on a Friday night so that you can have an intimate evening at home with both pastry and bread dough.)

Since I'd a mind to make the quiche that Sunday, I doubled the corn meal pastry dough rather than make dough from scratch twice in the same weekend. (Unless I have dough in the freezer I usually double any pastry recipe to save time when I next want to bake something that needs a crust.) The recommended quiche pastry does not have corn meal in it all, but I had every confidence that the galette recipe would be perfectly fine for both preparations since I love corn meal biscuits and cobblers and such. Turns out my corn meal had some critters growing in it, so I had to throw it out. I don't blame the producer at all just because I haven't been making enough polenta and corn bread lately. My fault entirely! But fortunately I had some masa harina which I used in the same proportion and it provided the same corn flavor. The dough seemed a bit wet, but once it rested for an hour (or more actually as I was multitasking away), it rolled out beautifully.

I almost wasn't going to reproduce the recipe here and just direct you to Alexandra's recipe. Her writing is witty and her photos are amazing. But I feared my gentle readers might abandon me for greener pastures. So you may click over to her space if you promise to click back. (Just kidding.) So here is a recipe that I would ask you to make next summer if you can wait! It really is so delicious with heirloom tomatoes, corn, and the corn meal crust that you'll be glad you decided to wait. I promise!

Tomato and Corn Galette

Adapted from Alexandra Stafford's adaptation from Fine Cooking, August 2000

Heirloom tomato slices in place atop the corn, onion, and basil mixture

  • 1-1/4 cups (5 oz.) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (1-1/2 oz.) fine yellow cornmeal [I used masa harina]
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 T. (3 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup ice water

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt. Cut in the chilled butter using a stand mixer, a food processor, or a pastry blender until it’s evenly distributed but still in large, visible pieces. Add the olive oil and ice water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Gather the dough with your hands and shape it into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1/2 bunch basil or tarragon, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped, (to yield about 1/2 cup); plus 10 whole leaves
  • Kernels from 1 ear of corn (about 1 cup)
  • 1 recipe Cornmeal Galette Dough (see above)
  • 1 large or 2 medium ripe tomatoes (about 3/4 lb. total) cut into 1/3-inch slices, drained on paper towels
  • 3 oz. Comté or Gruyère cheese, shredded [I used manchego actually and I'd be hard pressed to think of a cheese that wouldn't work well here.]
  • 1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tsp. milk or cream
  1. Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan, preferably nonstick, over medium heat. Add the sliced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 min. Season with salt and pepper. Add the garlic, chopped basil, and corn and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.
  2. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet, preferably one without sides, with kitchen parchment. (If your baking sheet has sides, flip it over and use the back.)
  3. Roll the dough on a floured surface into a 15-inch round, lifting the dough with a metal spatula as you roll to make sure it’s not sticking. If it is, dust the surface with more flour. Transfer it by rolling it around the rolling pin and unrolling it on the lined baking sheet.
  4. Spread the onion and corn mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border without filling. Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer over the onions and season them with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cheese over the tomatoes. [Here's where Alexandra's pictures don't match the recipe instructions as her beautiful heirloom tomatoes are clearly visible in the finished product. I followed her written directions and topped the tomatoes with the cheese.] Lift the edges of the dough and fold them inward over the filling, pleating as you go, to form a folded-over border. Pinch together any tears in the dough. Brush the egg yolk and milk mixture over the exposed crust.
  5. Bake until the crust has browned and the cheese has melted, 35 to 45 min. Slide the galette off the parchment and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for 10 min. Stack the remaining 10 basil leaves and use a sharp knife to cut them into a chiffonade. Cut the galette into wedges, sprinkle with the basil, and serve.