Monday: Stewed Cannellini Beans with Chiles and Thyme / Tibetan Flat Bread / Herb Salad
Tuesday: Turkey Burgers with Grilled Eggplant and Tomato Jam
Wednesday: Pantry Pasta with the Pink Putters – Salad from Hilda – Rum Cake from Julie
Thursday: All-Saints Service – followed by potato galletes and sausage
Friday: Galette and Sausage Starter / Poached Cod with potatoes and leeks
Saturday: Grilled Pork Chops, Grilled Broccoli, Starter of Guacamole
Sunday: Salumi, cucumbers, tomatoes, cheese/ Pollo al Vin Cotto, Salad
It was a week of okay cooking, but outstanding dinner guests. On Wednesday, the Pink Putters descended on Casa Stewarti after one of their rare weekday rounds of golf. It was impossible to chase the paparazzi and celebrity watchers away from the windows, or to keep up with their wide-ranging, hyper-associative conversation. So I gave up on that and focused on cooking these beautiful women a meal worthy of their presence. I fell down in my part of it, not quite nailing the pantry pasta– but they were gracious with their compliments– and Hilda brought a salad with toasted almonds and mushrooms and Julie brought a spectacular rum cake and life was good – very good.
*A great novelist would be able to explain this better. It is not so much that women discuss sports less than men or that they are gentler with each other, though that is true, it’s that they move in great associative swoops of the mind. No man I know can jump from Donald Trump to the color of someone’s dress for someone’s wedding to a critique of the local pastor to a group viewing of the new-born grandson (who looks to me like Deng Xaoping after eating a bad oyster but to them has Pap Pap’s nose and Aunt Betty’s eyes). For me, there is a great beauty in this style of conversation. Although I have known it drive accountants to drink.
There was, despite my general mediocrity this week, one great and good meal and a new favorite food for the Stewarts – the galette. A galette is a sort of French savory pastry cousin of a pizza. The potato galette we cooked this week was lighter and more savory than the one we cooked last week. Three things changed – better seasoning (potatoes are as bland as Humpty Dumpty’s face without a good amount salt and pepper) – and I used more sautéed leek – and, perhaps most important, I used blanched almonds in the dough instead of pistachios. The almonds made for a lighter dough and even SWMBO the carbophobe gave her approval to this meal. The recipe is below, along with my favorite way to grill pork chops. And with the weather we’ve been having I want you to promise me that you will keep on cooking out of doors and if you do, why would you not try these pork chops?
You will not believe flavor and mouth feel of these chops. If you need to convert a vegan, this is your ticket
LEEK AND POTATO GALETTE WITH ALMOND CRUST
(Adapted from a recipe in Bon Apétit, Oct 2016)
2 hours or less, but maybe 15 minutes of work – the dough needs to set up for 30
minutes and the galette cooks for 30 to 40 minutes. Note: the crust is mostly flour with a bit of almond to leaven it. The recipe below looks more complicated than it is – and the result is a breathtakingly savory, melt-in-your-mouth dinner.
Ingredients With a salad, this makes a light dinner for 4
For the dough:
½ cup raw almonds or pistachios (we prefer almonds, and you can use blanched and slivered almonds as well)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled butter, cut into pieces (You want chilled butter, not softened, for the dough)
For filling and assembling:
1 tablespoon olive oil, and some for drizzling
1 large leek – we used 3 medium – we like leeks – halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (white and light green parts)
4 oz. fresh goat cheese
5 tablespoons heavy cream
2 medium to large Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup ice water
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
4 Tablespoons of roughly chopped dill and some more sprigs for serving
Honey for drizzling (trust me – a touch of honey makes this dish soar)
Crushed pink peppercorns (you don’t need these, but like the honey, they add a note that will make you happy)
Salt and pepper
Get the goat cheese out to bring to room temperature 2 hours before using (if you forget, this will still work, but you’ll be using a bit more elbow grease)
Make the Dough:
Pulse almonds (or pistachios) in a food processor until coarse ground. (If your’re using slivered almonds, give them a few pulses, but you’ll need to flour and other ingredients to get them ground.) Add the flour, salt and sugar and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until a coarse meal forms – no further. With the processer on, stream in ½ cup of ice water and process until dough comes together (wraps itself into a sort of ball). Transfer to a floured work surface and form into a ball and then flatten into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes – a bit longer will lighten the dough.
Assembling and Cooking
Preheat oven to 450 F. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet over medium-low and cook the leeks, stirring a bit, until softened but not colored – it took me about 3 minutes, but over a low btu burner might take 5. Transfer leeks to a plate.
Mix the goat cheese, cream and garlic in a bowl to combine and season with salt and black pepper.
Divide the dough into 4 pieces and roll out each piece on a floured surface to about 8” round, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet (you’ll need a large baking sheet to hold all 4 at ounce – or cook in batches). Now spread ¼ of the goat cheese mixture onto each galette leaving a fairly wide uncovered border – say 1”. Scatter 1 tablespoon of dill over each, then top with a layer of potato. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and scatter ¼ of the leeks over each.
Now fold the edges of the dough in to overlap some of the filling. (You’ll have to overlap and tuck some of the folds in this process). Brush the top of the folded dough with the egg wash and bake the galettes until golden brown and the potatoes are soft – 30 to 40 minutes.
To serve: drizzle with honey, top with some more dill and sprinkle the crushed pink peppercorns before seasoning with salt and pepper.
Extra – Bourbon-brined Pork Chops (Feeding the Fire by Joe Carroll)
You’ll want to brine the pork-chops for at least 8 and up to 12 hours (a bit longer won’t be bad) – so buy your chops the day before you intend to cook. AND – since you’ll need to cool the brine, you’ll want to make it at least 9 hours before you cook, or make it the day before.
Ingredients For 4 (SWMBO never eats more than half a chop)
4 bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 12 oz. each) – 1 ½ inches thick (both Whole Foods and Giant Eagle offer these big serious chops)
4 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of bourbon
Coarse sea salt (kosher salt will be okay)
for the brine:
1 Gallon of water (roughly)
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
Large onion thinly sliced (I would cut the onion in half and slice half-moons, if it’s really large)
1 head of garlic sliced in half, horizontally
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
Coarse sea salt (kosher salt will work)
Make the brine and marinate the pork At least 10 hours before you cook
Put all ingredients – except the bourbon – into a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn of the heat and stir in the bourbon. Let it cool to room temperature and refrigerate until cold.
Put the chops into the cold brine and refrigerate for 8 – 12 hours.
Cook the Chops
Prepare a two-stage fire with medium and hot sides in a grill (2 layers of coals for the hot side, one for the medium).
Remove the pork chops from the brine and pat dry. Grill the chops over high heat until nicely charred – about 3 minutes a side. Then move the chops to the medium side and grill 12-15 minutes more, turning every few minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of a chop should read 145 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, trust the timing in the recipe – you don’t want to overcook these.
Let the chops rest for 5 minutes and in the meantime, melt the butter over medium in a small skillet. Carefully add the tablespoon of bourbon and tilt the pan away from you until it ignites. Let the alcohol burn off as you swirl the pan. (If you have an electric range, you’ll have to light the bourbon with a match.)
Transfer chops to plates and spoon some of the sauce over each, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt and serve.