Fresh Tomato Galette with Goats Cheese

This galette has lots of fresh tomatoes, goats cheese, balsamic caramelised onions and thyme – all baked together in a buttery crust, flavoured with Grana Padano cheese.

Tomato galette6

It makes the most of the summer tomato harvest that is so good right now and would be even better if you use home-grown, or heirloom tomatoes.  I picked my tomatoes up from my favourite farm shop and they were locally grown – so much better than forced tomatoes that have been flown half way around the world that taste of nothing!

Tomato galette5

Galettes have to be one of the easiest tarts to bake as they are supposed to look rustic!  This crust has the addition of the cheese to give it an extra savoury note that really sets the whole thing off.

I start with a base of slowly cooked onions, caramelised with balsamic vinegar then crumbled goats cheese, thyme leaves and topped with the sliced tomatoes and a little gruyere.  You can never have too much cheese – right?

Tomato galette4

Make the most of these late summer days and enjoy at a picnic in the park, or in the garden with salad and cold white wine.

…or alternatively; inside, with the doors shut – well away from wasps!

Crust Ingredients:
240g plain/all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Grana Padano cheese
170g very cold butter, cut into cubes
1tsp salt
Iced water
1 egg beaten with a splash of milk to make a wash
Black onion seeds and seseme seeds for sprinkling

Filling:
1 punnet of fresh tomatoes
Goats cheese – approx 220g, crumbled
Gruyere cheese – around a handful, grated
3 medium sized brown onions
Pinch of brown sugar
Balsamic vinegar
Small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked
1tbs olive oil
Small knob of butter
Salt and black pepper

Method:
For the crust, I use the food processor, fitted with the steel blade.  Place the flour, salt, cheese and butter and pulse until just incorporated.  Add the iced water a little at a time, pulsing until the dough just comes together.  Take it out, form into a flattened disc, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes.

For the filling, slice each onion in half and cut thinly.  Heat the oil and butter and cook the onions with a good pinch of salt.  Cook until they start to become translucent.  Add a pinch of sugar and they need to be left on a low heat, stirring occasionally, until they are a lovely walnut colour, but not burnt.

Leave them cooking low and slow for around 30 minutes.  When they are looking ready, stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar (balsamic glaze would also be ok here) let it cook in for a couple of minutes and turn off the heat.  Set aside to cool.

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Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F

Slice all the tomatoes and place onto some kitchen paper to absorb extra juices.

When the onions are cold, its time to roll out the chilled dough.  I prefer to sprinkle a little flour onto my baking sheet liner and roll out directly onto it.  This helps transport the galette into the oven.

Roll out the dough into a rough circle, about half a centimeter.  Spread out the caramelised onions, leaving around a 5cm/2 inch border around the edge.

Tomato galette

Top with the crumbled goats cheese, a grind of black pepper and a little of the thyme leaves.

Tomato galette1

Place the sliced tomatoes over the top, season with salt and pepper and grate over a little gruyere cheese and more thyme leaves.

Tomato Galette2

Bring the pastry up over the filling, leaving the centre exposed, folding and pleating as you go.

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Brush with the beaten egg wash and sprinkle a few onion and seseme seeds over the outside of the crust.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for around 45 minutes, but keep an eye it, it should be golden brown and the filling just starting to catch on the edges.

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Leave to cool for a few minutes if serving it warm with salad for a delicious lunch.  I think its just as good cold and would be a great addition for a picnic or lunchbox.

Tomato galette9

Black Cherry Puff Pies

We are still making the most of the stone fruit season here and these big black cherries were so juicy and sweet they were almost too good to put in a pie, well almost!

Cherry Hand Pies

Pitting cherries is always a messy business even with a cherry stoner, but there is something quite satisying when you fire the stones out of the cherries once you get going. Anyone else eat the little circles of cherry that come out attached to the stones, no, me neither!

I must admit that I did cheat and used not only puff pastry from the supermarket, but the ready rolled stuff too. The all-butter puff pastry you can get is really very good and so much easier than making it yourself.

The pies themselves are really simple, with not too many ingredients.  The buttery, flaky layers and super sweet juicy cherries make for a perfect summer baked treat and would be a welcome addition to any picnic.

Now the heatwave has released its grip on us (for now anyway) the oven can come back on!

Ingredients:
2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry, or you can buy the blocks and roll yourself, or of course home made would be best!  Keep refrigerated until ready to use
1 large punnet of black cherries – I bought a 500g pack
1 small lemon
1/4 cup sugar – use a little more if the cherries are very tart
1tbs corn flour/starch
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp almond extract (optional)
1 egg and a little milk to make a wash
Demerara/Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Cherry Hand Pies1

Method:
Place the pitted and halved cherries into a pan with the sugar, juice from the lemon, corn flour and the extracts. Stir everything together to combine.

At this point, you could mix the lemon juice and corn flour separately and then add, but I’ve never had any lumps just adding everything in together.

Heat the cherry mixture gently and stir everything together, taking care not to break up the fruit. The mixture will thicken slightly as it cooks.

Cook on a low heat for around 5 minutes, until the cherries soften a little and the juices are thickened.

Leave the pie filling to cool and then place in the refrigerater until cold. You can’t add hot pie filling to a cold crust as bad things will happen to the pastry.

Place the chilled, rolled out pastry on a lightly floured board and cut out circles – I got enough for 8 bases from one sheet and the 8 lids on the next sheet.  Whatever size cutter you go for, just make sure you have an even number, otherwise one of them might have to become a tart!

Place the pie bases onto a lined baking sheet and add a spoonful of the cherry pie filling into the centre of each circle, taking care to leave an edge.

Brush the edges with the egg wash and place the pastry lid onto each pie.

Crimp the edges together with a fork, making sure you have a good seal. I keep a little pile of flour ready when I do this, so I can keep dipping the fork in to stop it sticking to the pastry as it will be warming up a little by now.

You need to refrigerate the pies for 30 minuites to allow everything to relax.  You can also freeze them at this point too.

Cherry Hand Pie

When you are ready to bake, heat the oven to 220°C/425°F

Brush the pies with the egg wash and make a few slits in each pie to let the steam out.  Finally, sprinkle over a little of the sugar.

Bake for around 20 minutes. The pies will puff up and go a lovely golden brown colour when they are ready.

Leave them to cool a little before allowing anyone to sample them as the filling will be very hot!

Cherry Hand Pie1

They are just the best when still warm and crisp, but good cold too.

Harvest Salad Bowls

I picked up some great seasonal produce this weekend, including some seriously delicious, fresh corn. Rather than simply boil and serve on the cob, I decided to grill it and make a summer salad. The slight charring you get, makes for a really nice, slightly smoky flavour.

Harvest Salad

This salad also has my favourite Cavolo Nero kale, crisp red apples, roasted sweet potato, beets and goats cheese with a balsamic dressing. This makes enough for two large salads with leftovers for a lunchbox the next day.

Harvest salad bowl

Ingredients:
1 sweet potato
2 small beetroots
2 corn on the cobs, husks and silk removed
A small bunch of kale, ribs removed and torn intp pieces – I used Kavolo Nero
Small bunch of mixed salad greens
Goats cheese – I used two small individual cheeses broken into large pieces
1-2 crisp apples
1 lemon, halved

Harvest salad bowl2

Dressing:
3tbs olive oil
2tbs balsamic vinegar
1tsp maple syrup
1tsp Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt and pepper

Method:
Start by peeling the sweet potato and chopping into bite sized chunks. Rub with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Roast at 220°C/425°F for 30-35 minutes, or until tender and the edges are just starting to catch.

Sweet potato

Do the same with the beets, but I like to roast them separately to keep the colours separate. Beets do like to turn everything red!

To grill the corn, heat a griddle pan and rub each cob with a tiny amount of oil and place onto the hot griddle, tuning until cooked all the way around. You can also do this on a barbecue. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off and set aside.

Grilled corn

While the vegetables are roasting and the corn grilling, massage the kale in one half of the lemon juice. This tenderises it a little and helps to bring out the vibrant colour too.

Harvest salad bowl3

Chop the apple into bite sized pieces, leave the skin on, and toss in the rest of the lemon juice to avoid it discolouring.

When the vegetables are cool, assemble the salad by adding the massaged kale to the other salad greens, roasted sweet potato and beets, apples, crumbled goats cheese and the grilled corn. Gently turn the salad to combine everything together.

Harvest salad bowl1

Whisk or shake the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the top.

Harvest salad bowl4

Top with toasted pumpkin seeds or pecans if you like a bit of crunch. This late summer salad is full of flavour and perfect to enjoy on a warm afternoon in the garden.