September 20, 2014

mushroom galette

Often times for me, a meal gets inspiration from one ingredient. That usually comes from what is on hand and needs to be eaten before it turns to waste. Mushrooms are usually a staple in the kitchen here because we love them and because of their versatility and the flavor they add to almost any dish. Now that summer is finally receding, the time seems ripe for baking and also perhaps, more mushroom eating. I had an open pint of Baby Bellas, my go-to market mushroom, unless of course they are offering something more unique and interesting. Bellas are firm and fleshy and stand up to being sautéed, baked and even roasted. I decided to add more flavor by using dried wild Porcini mushrooms as well. Start by cleaning and soaking your mushrooms.

Cleaning mushrooms can be as simple as a rinse under the kitchen faucet with a drip-dry in a colander but cleaning them this way does tend to leave them water logged. Since I knew I was going to have to soak the Porcinis I opted to clean the Bellas by gently brushing them with a dry towel. Time consuming, slightly, but effective and better for the recipe I believe. The Porcinis I set in a bowl and covered with hot, not boiling, water and left soaking for about a half hour. After straining the Porcinis, I reserved the mushroom "broth" and put it in a ziplock inside the freezer for a future meal. Risotto perhaps.

Now, to the business of making the pastry. This recipe can surely be made with a store bought pastry dough but I urge you to try your hand at making your own. I love making dough mostly because after a few rounds of trial and error I have become good at it and more importantly I love eating it. It is an incredibly rewarding and satisfying pleasure to eat something so simple and delicious that has been created with your own hands. For this crust I used Thomas Kellers pâte brisée recipe. This was definitely a more buttery, flakey crust than I have used in the past for my quiche or crostata rustica doughs. Take note that his recipe is suitable for using with both savory and sweet dishes and it is a doubled recipe so you can make enough to freeze the extra batch and use on a rainy day.
I opted to blend the pastry by hand rather than my food processor but doing either will work equally as well, it is honestly up to you. Putting a physical effort into a dish tends to instill a meditative calm in me while blending the flour and butter together until it turns to a fine crumble. Buster, my kitchen assistant seems to enjoy it as well.

Once the mushrooms have been cleaned and/or soaking and the pastry is finished and is chilling, it is time to prep the filling. I based my recipe off of one that the lovely Miss Beth Kirby posted on the Local Milk blog, but the real beauty of it is that I used what was on hand. Don't limit yourself. Be inspired to use what is in your cupboards, crispers and coolers!

pastry recipe here

ingredients for filling
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 of a yellow onion
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 pinches of kosher salt
  • small bundle of 5-6 sage leaves
  • tsp dried oregano
  • large pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 6-8 Baby Bella mushrooms sliced thickly
  • 1 oz of dried wild porcini mushrooms
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream
  • 2 oz good, pungent soft cheese (I used a gorgonzola dolce)
  1. in a skillet melt the butter over medium heat. add the onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt, cooking without browning until fragrant & turning translucent, about 1-2 minutes.
  2. add in the herbs and another pinch of salt.
  3. add in the mushrooms, lemon juice, and the final pinch of salt and cook just until mushrooms are softened and just cooked through.
  4. remove from heat and stir in cream and set aside in a bowl to cool completely.
  5. heat oven to 425°f
  6. meanwhile roll out your dough on a well floured work surface into a rough circle.
  7. gently place dough onto a sheet tray, and mound the cooled filling in the center, dot the top with the pieces of cheese and fold up the edges, trimming them to make it a move even shape if desired.
  8. bake at 425°f for 25-35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  9. remove from oven, allow to cool slightly at which point it can either be served warm or allowed to cool further and be served at room temperature.

September 19, 2014

keep in touch

Just a brief post here to let you know that I have been doing some tweaking to the old Peregrine Papers and have finally added a subscribe button in the sidebar since it was most definitely beyond time for something like that. Please feel free to submit your email address to receive updates when new posts go live. Cheerio!

Photo by Saul Leiter, Café des Deux Magots, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, France 1959

September 18, 2014

three of cups

Today I was able to get my hands covered in the slick and slippery clay of a ceramics studio for the first time in over four months. It was also the first time I had the opportunity and pleasure of throwing clay on a pottery wheel. Up until now I have only built ceramics by hand, all the while eagerly awaiting this day. It was immensely enjoyable, from the use of the pedal to activate the wheel (which is comfortably familiar to using a sewing machine) to learning about centering, pressure and using some muscles in my arms that do not often get engaged. And I surprised myself... I felt like I had a very good hang of it right out of the gates. I managed to make three humble cups or cylinders without them collapsing or running off out into bowl territory, which, by the way, a bowl shape comes quite naturally on the wheel.

Being back in this class kicked a switch on in my brain. A creative switch. So much that when I finally got back home I was inspired to get out my lino blocks and start carving a new stamp to print fabric for a lamp shade I want to hang in the living room but I was sidetracked by getting a to-do list together for the next few days. You see, I am entertaining my first houseguest since my move to Georgia and I have some preparation and plans I would like to carry out before she arrives. So this afternoon, with inspiration still flowing, I made my list of things to do and food items for meals that I want to get working on. I hope that I do get to my block cutting somewhere in the mix maybe tomorrow or the next day. I look forward to this week ahead.

August 29, 2014

settling in

In the past two months I have started to call Athens, Ga my home. It's been a pretty immense adjustment for me as someone who has never relocated in their entire life. More importantly it has been a magnific learning experience. Most especially about myself.

After a month of unpacking, taking it easy, getting my bearings and creating a sense of home, I finally started working. Work will snap you right out of any vacation-like state and I welcomed that. For me it was time. It feels good to not only be making money but having a bit of a focus and schedule.

In an attempt to understand the layout of this town I started exploring it by going out early in the mornings, before the temperature rose too high, for a brisk walk. Along the way I really fell in love with all the fetching cottages, bungalows and domiciles and started documenting them via snapshot on my trusty iPhone. This simple act and pleasure lead to a photo essay that was recently published by one of Athens local guides, The Broad Collective. I couldn't be happier about this collaboration. It really gives me a sense of being a part of my new town. Please feel free to have a look HERE.

July 10, 2014

home is where the hearth is

I have been in my new home for just over a week now. It is amazing how fast time rushes by when all you are busy doing is unpacking, organizing, settling and making sense of your new surroundings. I haven't even started working yet, or for that matter even began the search for work! Though through all the haste and stress of relocating I have been happy, happier than I can remember for some time now. You see, this is the first time I have ever done anything like this and now that it is complete I have a new and quite enormous sense of accomplishment.

The few months proceeding this shift, I have been planning and working for July to be a time to pause, reset, explore and assimilate. I am truly savoring it and trying to make the most of each day. Beyond unpacking and setting up my belongings in my new home, I have managed to explore the immediate neighborhood in small bursts and spend plenty of time getting comfortable at home, most especially in the kitchen. I can think of no better way to find your way around and descry solace in a kitchen than baking bread. In no less than a week, curiosity got the best of me and I set out to discover what the tap water in Georgia and an electric oven would do for my baguette recipe. I discovered very little difference, which I see as an opportunity for future tweaking of the recipe and baking technique. My second go at firing up the oven was for reasons of overripe bananas and excess packets of nuts and seeds which only naturally manifested in banana bread.

3 overripe bananas
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup of heavy cream or plain yogurt (or milk if you're in a pinch)
1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup honey + 1/8 molasses

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon of any or each of the following:
crushed walnuts
slivered almonds
sunflower seeds
flax seeds
sesame seeds
chia seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Begin by mixing the wet and dry ingredients in two separate bowls.

Once you have the bananas beaten well in the wet batter and it is relatively free of large lumps of the fruit, start incorporating the dry mix in a little at a time. At this point you can add whatever nuts or seeds tickle your fancy or omit them according to allergies or preference.

Generously butter and flour your bread pan and gently pour the batter in.

Bake at 350 for 45 to 50 minutes taking care to check the center of the loaf with a toothpick for doneness. This bread is best slightly underdone or on the moist side. Let cool and enjoy! It's wonderful in the morning with a cup of coffee or glass of whole milk. I love to toast a slice with a small pat of butter too.

Here is what the first week of new town living has looked like...

June 11, 2014

moving house

I am certainly no stranger to moving. After a lifetime of living in the city of Philadelphia, I have changed residences no less than a dozen times. But now the time has finally come to leave my hometown and change everything up as I move south to the sunny state of Georgia. Within the past three to four months, the opportunity to relocate presented itself to me and all signs seemed to point to making this move happen. It was a refreshingly easy decision and I am welcoming the new adventures and circumstances that will unfold in the next months and years with an open mind and heart. In the meantime I am in the midst of the sometimes overwhelming chore of perusing personal items, weeding out, packing and preparing for a big purge that will all be available in a yard sale happening this weekend on Saturday June 14th and Sunday June 15th -- both days from 9am until 5pm taking place on the 1200 block of Palethorp Street. I have been posting and previewing here and here. Stop by if you are in the area. Au revoir!