Saturday, October 15, 2016

A Meal for the One-Handed
What’s cooking? Swiss Chard and Mushroom Tart with Whole Wheat Pastry

This post took forever because I couldn’t figure out what to call it. Mostly I came up with a lot of weak humor:

Falling All Over Again
You’ve Got Nailed
Shoulder to Shoulder
A Stitch in Time Adds Nine
The Slings of Misfortune
What Goes Around the Back Then Comes Around the Front

My friends and a few readers know that almost exactly five years ago, I performed a balletic leap out of my shower and onto the tile floor of our New Jersey bathroom. The resulting fall sent me into surgery to reconstruct my rotator cuff, and robbed me of a trip to the Amalfi Coast. A year and lots of physical therapy later, I made it back to Italy and have been fine ever since.

Then this year, we went to Sicily, where we wandered through wineries and ruins for a week. Our group rented a house for a second week, and that’s where my beloved tripped and fell on his shoulder. So we cut the trip short and returned to New Jersey where the same darling surgeon performed his magic on my hubby.

So now the shoe is on the other foot – or, better yet, the sling is on the other shoulder. The patient must be the nurse, and the nurse must be the patient. And when you have these ups and downs, it’s a good thing to store the memories. My husband and I are recalling, from our new vantage points, what life is like with a person in a sling. A person who can’t tie their shoes or cut their meat or even get dressed without some help. A person who might be a bit crabby now and then, because it’s hard to get 8 hours of sleep – or even 5 or 6 – when you can’t roll over in bed.

Even more, we’re reminded that the nurse must be patient, and the patient must let himself be nursed. The change in perspective has been illuminating for both of us, and we’re getting along much better than either of us anticipated.

* * *

One big improvement this time around is that the person cooking the meals is the Kitchen Goddess. So my imagination has been tested to produce meals that can be eaten with one hand – and not the dominant one, at that. I embraced the challenge. The best news has been that extending our stay in New Jersey gave me two bonus trips to my favorite farmers’ market. On my last foray, I picked up a big bunch of Swiss chard from the organic farmstand, and a bag of mushrooms from a guy who forages locally in the Garden State. A little digging on epicurious unearthed this delightfully healthy – vegetarian! – yet filling galette that originally showed up in Bon Appétit.

And what a hit it was with my poor, one-armed mate, who managed to eat it sort of like a pizza. The whole wheat flour in the crust produces a mild sweetness that works really well with the earthiness of the chard and mushrooms. And whatever you do, don’t skimp on the herb salad topping, as it balances the forest notes with a little bit of sunlight and crunch.

Kitchen Goddess note: A galette is the country cousin to a tart, made without the use of a tart pan and a bit frumpy looking because the crust is simply folded up around the filling. For my money, the galette is much more fun because you don’t have to worry about it looking perfect. You’ve seen recipes for galettes on this blog before, but mostly for desserts, although my Roasted Tomato-Bacon-Goat-Cheese Galette is another amazing and savory variation.

The crust for this galette calls for whole wheat flour, but you don’t have to use it. For a 100% all-purpose flour crust, click here to see the ingredients and methodology. But just between us girls, the Kitchen Goddess thought the whole wheat flour made the crust seem more substantial than usual. And although she grumbled and muttered to herself at having to buy even a small a bag of whole wheat flour, she now plans to use the rest for making more savory galettes. And maybe some interesting cheese sticks. Hmmm...

P.S. Don’t forget to allow an extra hour for chilling this pastry dough.

Swiss Chard and Mushroom Galette with Whole Wheat Pastry

Adapted from Bon Appétit, April 2014.

Serves 4.

For the whole wheat dough:
1 cup (120 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 cup (113 grams) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, each tablespoon cut into fourths, then chilled well
¼ cup Crisco, chilled
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, chilled
1 tablespoon vodka, chilled
3 tablespoons cold water

For the galette:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 ounces mushrooms (preferably maitake or crimini mushrooms, or a mix), sliced thinly
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 large bunch (12-14 ounces) Swiss chard, center ribs removed, and leaves ribboned or cut into bite-size pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
¼ cup milk
1 cup mixed fresh herbs [KG note: The KG used Italian (flat-leafed) parsley, mint, dill, and chives; other possibilities include cilantro, basil, and tarragon. Make your own special mix. Just make sure the herbs are fresh.]
Zest of 1 lemon, and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Flaky sea salt

Special equipment: baker’s parchment; large, rimmed baking sheet

For the whole wheat dough:

Put the flours and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 4-5 times to mix the ingredients and add air to the mix. Add the cold butter and Crisco and pulse another 12-15 times until the butter/Crisco is well distributed and a few pea-sized chunks remain.

Sprinkle the vinegar, vodka, and water around the flour/fat mixture and pulse just until the mixture begins to hold together in a clump. (If necessary, you can add another tablespoon of water, but I have not had to so far.)

Gather and press the dough into a ball, then knead it lightly until no dry spots appear and the texture seems consistent. Form the dough into a disk, wrap well in cellophane wrap, and chill at least 1 hour (up to overnight).

For the galette:
Preheat oven to 400º.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, bring 1 tablespoon of the oil to a shimmer, and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are golden. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat under the skillet to low and add a second tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic burn. Raise the heat to medium and add the chard. Cook, using tongs to turn the greens until they are well wilted and evenly covered with the oil, about 4-5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and season the greens with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Cut a piece of baker’s parchment the size of your rimmed baking sheet and dust it with flour. Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll it on the parchment to about ⅛ inch thick. Trim the dough to a circle 12-13 inches in diameter, and move the parchment/dough to your baking sheet.

Spread three-quarters of the ricotta onto the dough, leaving a border of 1½ -2 inches all around. Sprinkle the cooked chard on top of the ricotta, and the mushrooms on top of the chard. Dollop the remaining ricotta around on top of the mushrooms, and toss the toasted pine nuts over all.

Fold the border of dough up and over the filling. Brush the exposed area of dough with the milk to encourage browning.

Bake the galette 35-40 minutes, until the dough is nicely browned, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. Let the cooked galette cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes.

While the galette is cooling, whisk together the lemon juice and the remaining tablespoon of oil, and toss it with the herb salad. Top the galette with the herbs, the lemon zest, and a sprinkling of sea salt.

And watch that you don’t trip!

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