It’s beginning to be the season for fresh strawberries in California, but not here in New Mexico where we still anticipate at least one more hard freeze. Even though the grocery store versions of strawberries lack the sweetness and flavor of those at San Francisco’s Ferry Building, they have the advantage of being available year around. That is good, because this beautiful dessert is worth the effort any time of year. If you prefer, you can substitute your choice of other berries or any combination of berries.
Although I have tweaked it a bit, the original recipe comes from one of Deborah Madison’s excellent cookbooks: Seasonal Fruit Desserts From Orchard, Farm, and Market (Broadway Books, New York, 2010, p. 119). Deborah Madison now lives in Santa Fe and is viewed as the doyenne of the local food-writing community even though she is not nearly old enough for such a title. She began her cooking career in the Bay Area, working at Alice Waters’s Chez Panisse and then eventually serving as the founding chef of what has been called the first high-end vegetarian restaurant, Greens. The restaurant is still popular and definitely worth a visit at its beautiful site on the edge of San Francisco Bay. Since then her cookbooks, including Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, have won many awards including the James Beard Foundation Book Award.
This dessert fulfills that well-earned reputation.
Just a few minute last-minute pointers: Resist the temptation to overfill the galette with fresh fruit. Make certain that the edges of the dough are well-sealed. Otherwise, it may leak, and you could face a major oven cleanup.
Roll the crust dough into a 13-14 inch circle
Edges of dough folded over the filling
Dough painted with cream and sprinkled with turbinado sugar
Baked strawberry galette
Served with ice cream
Pastry for Galette
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup pastry flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut in pieces
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 5-6 tablespoons ice water
- In a bowl large enough that you will be able to mix the dough with your hands, mix together the flours, salt and sugar.
- With a pastry blender, cut in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. The crust will be flakier if some larger pieces of fat are left unblended.
- In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk, lemon juice, and 4 tablespoons ice water. Pour over the dough mixture and work in with your hands.
- Add remaining ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together. It should not be sticky. Knead lightly; divide into two equal balls. Pat into discs about an inch thick, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
- 4 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
- 1/3 cup maple syrup
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ pastry recipe (above)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon cream
- 1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
- In a large bowl, combine the halved strawberries, maple syrup, lemon juice, cornstarch, and vanilla extract.
- On a well-floured work surface, roll out one of the chilled discs of dough into a circle at least 13 inches in diameter.
- Arrange the rolled-out crust on a rimmed 13 x 18 inch baking pan lined with parchment. Top the crust with the strawberry mixture, leaving a 2-inch margin around the filling.
- Fold the edge of the crust over the filling so that it drapes over the filling and any folds are sealed.
- Sprinkle the melted butter over the filling.
- Brush the crust with cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
- Bake in the middle of an oven preheated to 425°F for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden.
- Serve warm or cold with heavy cream, whipped cream, or vanilla ice cream.
Zucchini season, and the bounty keeps rolling in. We do not have any squash plants in our garden patch, but there is an abundance at the farmers market and from our neighbors. It is a common situation. Many folks this time of year are experiencing zucchini burn-out. Squash blossoms are delicious, but they require immediate attention to maintain their freshness. Sautéed squash begins to get a bit boring, and so the search of the web and a shelf of cookbooks begins. Deborah Madison, the Santa Fe-based vegetarian cookbook author has numerous suggestions in her collections. I especially recommend her Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Broadway Books, New York) and The Savory Way (Broadway Books, New York) for all sorts of suggestions.
One of my favorite ways to cook zucchini is to grate it with a box grater, sauté it along with some scallions and sliced mushrooms in olive oil, drain any excess oil, stir in some sour cream and fresh lemon juice, and serve. So simple that no recipe is needed
Today, though, I am going to write about stuffed zucchini. The first time I ever had a stuffed squash was years ago at the home of a colleague from Greece who stuffed the tender fruits with feta, Cheddar cheese and bread crumbs. This version is a little more complicated but still not difficult.
Zucchini with flesh and seeds removed
Zucchini stuffed with sausage mixture
Sausage stuffing topped with tomato slices
Stuffed zucchini topped with grated Swiss cheese and dotted with butter
Out of the oven
Ready to eat
- 3 firm, medium zucchini (make certain they are not too big)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 4 medium crimini mushrooms, washed and chopped
- ½ pound bulk breakfast sausage (mild or hot, your preference)
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ½ cup almond flour (use all-purpose flour if you prefer)
- 1 egg, beaten slightly
- 3 medium tomatoes, sliced thinly (or enough to cover the zucchini)
- ½ pound Swiss cheese, grated
- cooking spray
- Slice the zucchini lengthwise. With a grapefruit spoon or sharp paring knife, hollow out the squash with about ¼ inch of a rim remaining. Try not to pierce the skin of the squash.
- In a medium sauté pan, heat the olive oil over a medium flame. Add the chopped onions and cook until they are translucent but not browned. Stir in the chopped mushrooms, and cook until they give up their liquid and the liquid has evaporated.
- Add the sausage, breaking it up with a cooking spoon so that it is completely crumbled.
- Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and while it is still warm, stir in the cream cheese so it is completely incorporated. Stir in the almond flour and egg. Set aside until you are ready to stuff the zucchini.
- Choose a baking pan that is large enough to hold all of the squash, or use two dishes, and spray generously with baking spray.
- Arrange the zucchini in the pan, and spray them lightly with baking spray.
- Fill the hollowed-out zucchini with the sausage mixture.
- Top with tomato slices seasoned with more salt and pepper, and cover with the grated Swiss cheese.
- Dot with butter, and bake in the middle of an oven pre-heated to 350° F for 30 minutes or until the cheese is completely melted and the zucchini is tender.
- Serve immediately.
As summer nears its end with Labor Day, there is a spectacular bounty at our local farmers’ market. Less so in our neighborhood. We have already run out of recipes for zucchini from our neighbors while our little vegetable garden is limited to herbs and chard. The chard, however, is luxuriant with succulent green leaves and bright red stalks.
A few days ago I harvested some of the chard, and then my wife made a recipe out of Deborah Madison’s excellent and encyclopedic Tenth Anniversary Edition of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Broadway Books, New York, 2007. The preparation is easy, and the cilantro provides a novel balance to the flavor of the chard. Of course, summer is the perfect time for fresh corn on the cob as well. That plus a slice of ham makes a real East Texas mid-day dinner. The only thing missing is the dinner bell.
My thought about chard is that like many greens, it can be bitter. You can overcome that shortcoming and brighten the flavor with the addition of fresh lemon juice and a little sugar. Whether or not you make these additions, long slow cooking is important, and you should plan to use both the leaves and the stems in any preparation.
Chard in the garden is almost an ornamental
Green leaves and red stems – beautiful
Colorful even in the pot with onions
A tasty summer accompaniment to ham and corn on the cob
Braised Chard with Cilantro
- 2 pounds chard leaves
- 1½ cups chard stems, diced
- 1 onion, finely diced
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 clove garlic, made into paste with 1 teaspoon salt
- juice of ½ lemon
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ cup water
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a large heavy pot with tight lid, combine all ingredients.
- Bring to a boil, cover tightly, and cook over low heat for 45 minutes.
- Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
A while back, I wrote about some of the favorite foods we shared during our annual family rendezvous in Big Sur. Someone asked for the recipe for the plum tart . This is the tart that Sarah made for the adults at our family cookout. Choose whatever sweet plums suits your fancy, although they should be free stone so that you can slice them easily. Use your favorite pie crust recipe, and bake the shell “blind” to receive the filling. The tart is best when topped with crème fraîche, whipped cream, or ice cream.
(Adapted from Deborah Madison’s Seasonal Fruit Desserts)
1 nine-inch pie crust, baked blind (see below)
1½ pounds fresh free stone plums, skins on
4 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
zest of one orange
⅔ Cup walnuts, toasted in a dry skillet and chopped finely
- Line a nine-inch pie pan with your favorite pie crust recipe. Crimp the edges, pierce the bottom several times with the tines of a fork. Line with aluminum foil, and fill with beans or pie weights. Bake for 15 minutes in the middle of a 375° oven. Remove from the oven. Remove the weights and foil and cool on a rack.
- In the meantime, slice the plums and set aside.
- Combine the sugar, spices, and zest with a mortar and pestle to release the orange oils. Then toss with the chopped walnuts.
- Scatter ⅔ of the walnuts in the bottom of the pie shell. Cover with the plum slices, arranging them so that some of the skins are showing.
- Scatter the remaining walnuts over the top of the plum slices.
- Bake at 375° for about 35 minutes or until the plums have begun to release their juices.
Yield: Serves 6 to 8