Happy 2022! Congratulations, we have survived the holidays, the virtual celebrations, the Zoom group chats, the driveway Yankee swaps, The Christmas Story movie marathon and getting countless COVID tests. 2022 is going to be great, once we shovel off the sidewalk again. In 2022 our resolutions are to learn to relax, and to be patient, kind and forgiving.
Christmas baking can be very stressful. I did not bake one single batch of presentable Spritz cookies this year. Please keep in mind that Spritz cookies are considered an easy peasy bake. They are the stuff of elementary school bake sales. Mine were disgraceful. One batch melted into golden puddles. Another refused to be extruded from the press. The last ordeal was a long ribbon, that I cut with a knife and covered with gobbets of hot chocolate ganache. Yet, all the cookies were gobbled up. Every one. But I was mortified that I could not bake a single, photogenic, Martha-staff-perfect, little butter cookie mouthful of sugar and butter. My intended audience didn’t seem to mind. They chuckled at the failures, and Hoovered them up with indiscriminate, ravenous abandon. Fee, fie, fo, fum. They didn’t seem to mind the imperfections one bit. The crumbs they left behind were too tiny for any little Who mouses.
Fine baking is a science, as we are often reminded. We must weigh and measure carefully. We must roll layers gently. Don’t forget to chill the dough. Conversely, let some dough rise in a warm corner of the kitchen. Personally, I don’t have a non-drafty kitchen corner. I let the Friday night pizza dough rise in the microwave – it is protected from drafts there, and it is out of my way, under the counter. Sometimes dinner prep is hurried, and the conditions are less than ideal. Sometimes I am not ready to devote the time necessary to magically manipulate a nicely fluted pie crust. And in 2022 I will no longer apologize for the lack of perfection in my baking. Because I have discovered galettes.
Polymorphous and free-form, as many of my Christmas cookies turned out to be, galettes make for a transformative evening meal. Savory galettes are delightful for supper, with lots of leftovers for lunch, which is always our aim at the Spy Test Kitchens: cook once, eat twice. It leaves lots of time for reading books, walking the dog, and listening to podcasts. Fruit galettes are excellent for dessert, and breakfast – what a charming way to start the new year!
Galettes are as easy and inviting, as warm and filling, as any perfectly fashioned little pot pie. And no one needs to bring a T-square or a pie crimper or a camera to the galette prep counter – we will eyeball measurements, fold and pinch with glee, and will have a nice warm, winter meal. (Sadly, in our house we are experiencing Dry January, so you have the cheap white wine without us.)
I love a nice, piping hot leek and potato galette. Bon Appétit makes it fancy by adding raw pistachios to the dough, but if you don’t want to mask up to go back out in the snow, a regular, store-bought, in-the-freezer pie crust will also do. The filling is still heavenly: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/goat-cheese-leek-and-potato-galette-with-pistachio-crust Bon Appétit specializes in fast and delicious galettes: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/galette-recipes
And here are other veggie ideas: https://www.seriouseats.com/how-to-make-savory-vegetable-galettes
Fruit galettes, especially with puff pastry, will seem very festive and fancy: https://yogaofcooking.co/easy-puff-pastry-apple-galette/
Our friends at Food52 know that we are rushed off our feet, and barely have time to crack open the Internet for a recipe, so they suggest recipe-free galettes, using what’s on hand: vegetables, eggs, cheese. If you root around your fridge, I bet you will find a lot of interesting items. I just found a baggie of Parmesan that I grated for spaghetti last night, a leek, a chunk of Jarlsberg, a cooked boneless chicken breast, 2 rashers of thick bacon, and in the pantry, a few little new potatoes. Yumsters! Dinner is almost ready. https://food52.com/blog/11538-how-to-make-any-savory-galette-without-a-recipe
2021 was a tough year, so let’s put it behind us. As charity begins at home, it can start off in that drafty kitchen. Try to have something nice for dinner tonight. And it will taste just as wonderful for lunch tomorrow. Take good care of yourself!
“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”
― Graham Greene