Monday, September 22, 2014

You Say Tomato, ...
What’s cooking? Roasted Tomato-Bacon-Goat-Cheese Galette and Spicy Tomato Chutney

Last week was my swan song for the season in New Jersey, and as I packed for the return to Texas, I mentally prepared for the change in cultures. A few points of difference came to mind:

In New Jersey, you bag your own groceries but someone else pumps your gas. Texas is where you pump your own gas but someone bags your groceries for you.

In New Jersey, Coca-Cola, 7-Up, and Barq’s Root Beer are called “sodas”; in Texas, they’re all called “Coke.”

That place where the ocean meets the land? In NJ, it’s “the shore”; in Texas, it’s “the beach.”

In New Jersey, we get better pizza and bagels; in Texas, better barbecue and Tex-Mex.

In spite of one state being very blue and the other mostly red, the politics of both states verge on the ridiculous, including the behavior of their governors.

And in both places, when I tell people we spend part of the year in New Jersey and part of the year in Texas, I get the same response:

In New Jersey, they give me a funny look and ask, “Why Texas?”
In Texas, I get the same funny look as they ask, “Why New Jersey?”

Regardless of my allegiances, it was a great summer for tomatoes in New Jersey – just the right amount of rain and sun. And I expanded my palate this year to include heirloom tomatoes, which I hadn’t liked the one time I tried them long ago. I know, amazing that the Kitchen Goddess wouldn’t like heirloom tomatoes. Must have been a bad batch. In any case, I’ve now discovered what a wonderful texture they have – smoother, almost transparent flesh that’s less grainy than the cultivated beefsteak tomatoes. Now, I’ve been devouring New Jersey beefsteak tomatoes all summer, and they beat anything I’ve ever bought in a grocery store. But we were in Nantucket recently, and  my friend Laurie served me heirloom tomatoes she’d grown there this summer. OMG. And wow.

So on my last couple of trips to the NJ farmers’ market, I shifted my allegiance. Even brought some heirlooms to Texas on the airplane. Along with the corn and carrots and peaches and blackberries and lettuce I’d stocked up on with my final farmers’ market visit. (Sigh.) Some went in the suitcase; the rest went in a shopping bag I carried onto the plane. “Uh,... that’s my lunch,” I said to the nice TSA folks who puzzled over the x-ray. It was so worth the trouble – I’ve been enjoying them all week.

Generally speaking, the season for heirloom tomatoes is still strong, and my favorite Sun Gold cherry tomatoes are still available in both Texas and New Jersey. It’s been such fun cooking with the giant orbs: the stuffed tomatoes I wrote about for Labor Day, and the roasted-peach-and-tomato spread I preserved in August. To say nothing of just topping some nice tomato slices with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil, then sprinkling them with salt and pepper and a drizzle of really good olive oil.

What to Do with Those Tomatoes

Today, I give you two more wonderful ways to enjoy tomatoes. (Get field-ripened tomatoes while you can, folks.) The first is a delightful take on a rustic tart, also called a galette. It’s called “rustic” because the crust isn’t fitted to a pie pan – just folded in on itself and baked. Which means it’s a lot simpler to make. You just roll out the dough (which takes only minutes to mix in your food processor) on a floured piece of baker’s parchment, pile the tomatoes in the middle of it, and fold in the sides. I saw a simple version of the tart in The New York Times, and I added crumbled goat cheese and bacon to the mix. Everything tastes better with bacon and goat cheese.

The second recipe is a tomato chutney, made zippy with the addition of Aleppo pepper (use chili flakes instead if you want even more heat) and mustard seeds. It’s a terrific sweet-savory taste that goes great as a spread on meat sandwiches or a grilled cheese sandwich, as a substitute for ketchup on a burger (or anywhere, frankly that you would use ketchup, except maybe french fries – there are some things you just don’t do), or as a condiment with a sharp cheddar, or with baked brie or drizzled over fresh goat cheese, ... the list goes on. And it makes a great gift.

Before we jump into the galette recipe, the Kitchen Goddess has a few notes on pie crust (modified from the November 10, 2009, post about my heroic adventures with pie crust at the CIA):

❶ Butter gives a better flavor, but shortening makes a flakier crust. So in choosing your fat, try a mixture of butter and shortening. Here, I used a 3:1 ratio of butter:shortening.

See the little bits of butter?
❷ Unlike the creaming process for cakes, where the mixture should be smooth, you want your pie crust to have small bits of butter unincorporated –– to produce little pockets of air in your crust, for flakiness. That’s why I recommend freezing the butter ahead of mixing.

❸ To keep the dough from sticking (a major problem for me in disasters past), chill it at least 20 minutes before rolling it out, and throw down plenty of flour on the counter. Rotate the dough a quarter turn after each couple of swipes with the rolling pin, and roll with even, steady strokes starting at the center and rolling out to the edge until you get the circle down to a one-eighth-inch thickness.

❹ Use melted butter or an egg wash (equal parts egg and milk) or just plain milk brushed over the exposed part of the crust to help it brown. I used butter here to keep with the savory flavor.

❺ In a leap of faith, I adopted a recommendation from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, and have started using part vodka in the water I add. I know what you people are thinking, but the alcohol evaporates in the oven, and it makes the crust flakier.

I put this one under the broiler for a little extra browning and forgot it. Still tasted great.

Roasted Tomato, Bacon and Goat Cheese Galette

Adapted from Good Eggs’ Chef Audrey Snyder, in The New York Times.

Serves 4-6.

For the galette:
2-3 slices of bacon, diced
2 generous pints Sun Gold tomatoes (or other sweet cherry tomatoes)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 ounces fresh goat cheese (or more if you like)
pastry dough for 1 pie (or store-bought dough)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

For the pie dough:
1⅓ cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons shortening (Crisco)
3 tablespoons ice water, more as needed
1 tablespoon vodka

Start by dicing the shortening and the butter into teaspoon sized bits, and put it into the freezer for 15-20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º.

While the butter/shortening is chilling, cook the bacon until crisp, and remove to paper towels to drain.

Wash the tomatoes, removing any that are split or soft. Gently toss the tomatoes with the olive oil, and sprinkle them with a pinch of salt. Pour them into a rimmed baking sheet lined with baker’s parchment, add the sprigs of thyme, and roast 40 minutes or until the tomatoes have begun to split and release juice.

If you are using store-bought dough, skip to the next paragraph. To make the dough, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, and pulse 4-5 times to blend. Add the cold butter and shortening to the flour and pulse 12-15 times, or enough to get the butter down to the size of small peas. Drizzle the water and vodka over the mixture and pulse just until the mixture holds together when you squeeze a handful of it. (If necessary, add water a tablespoon at a time.) Gather and press the dough into a ball, wrap well in cellophane wrap, and chill at least 20 minutes.

When the tomatoes have finished roasting, remove them from the oven and allow to come to room temperature.

Once the dough is chilled and the tomatoes are cooling, lay out another sheet of parchment paper and dust it with flour. Roll the dough on it to a thickness of ⅛ inch and trim the dough (if necessary) to about a 10-inch round. Move the parchment (with the circle of dough) to a baking sheet and refrigerate it again for 10-15 minutes.

Spoon the roasted tomatoes into the center of the dough, being sure to leave free a 2-inch border. Crumble the goat cheese around and sprinkle the cooked bacon across the tomatoes. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of thyme leaves on top.

Carefully fold the dough edges of the dough toward the center, pinching and folding to create a pleated border. Brush the pleated border with the melted butter. Bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Cool the tart on the pan set on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

Spicy Tomato Chutney

Adapted from Gourmet magazine, September 1997.

Makes 2 half-pint jars.

1 pound vine-ripened tomatoes, in ½-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, veins and seeds removed, cut in ½-inch dice
½ cup balsamic vinegar (or sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar*)
¾ cup white wine vinegar (or cider vinegar*)
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper (or dried red pepper flakes)
¾ cup scallion greens, sliced in ⅛-¼ inch lengths

In a medium saucepan, combine vinegars with sugar, salt, mustard seeds, black pepper, and Aleppo pepper, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, and scallions. Simmer the mixture, uncovered and stirring occasionally (stir more frequently as the liquid cooks down), until thickened and reduced to about 2 cups. This will take 1¼-1½ hours. Cool chutney completely. It will keep, covered and chilled, for at least 2 weeks. Or process as for preserves and it’ll last a year.

*Kitchen Goddess note: You can pretty much put together your own mix of vinegars here, though I’d be careful about mixing fruit-based vinegars with the tomatoes. Might be great – you never know unless you try. In making a double batch, I ran out of balsamic (what?!), and substituted sherry vinegar for the rest. Then I ran out of white wine vinegar and subbed champagne vinegar for the rest. See how helpful it is to have lots of vinegars on hand? 


  1. Love this galette!!!!!!!!!

    Eileen in Atlanta

    1. It was yummy, Eileen, ans so easy. Am thinking of trying the concept with other ingredients -- let me know if you have any ideas.

  2. I love your headline photo food styling, Lee. You've got mad style!

    1. Thanks so much, Maggie! I'm thrilled you like it -- your photos are always so artistic.(Thought I replied to this, so if it shows up twice, forgive me.)