Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Potato Galette with Mexican Mint Marigold

Back in 1994, our very own Central Market grocery store opened in Austin, and it immediately became the place where I do a big part of my grocery shopping. In 1994, I was a graduate student, and my shopping list included more frozen food and quick-to-cook things than it does now. But, I remember walking into this brand-new store with the produce section that meanders on and on and discovering starfruit and taking it home to taste it for the first time. There was so much to explore and taste, and my grocery store expectations have never been the same since. I thought about that as I read my review copy of The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California's Most Iconic Market by Laura McLively. The Berkeley Bowl, in Berkeley California, began as a small, family-run produce shop that has evolved into “one of the nation’s most renowned retailers of exotic fruits and vegetables.” All of the produce continues to be selected by the original owner, Glenn Yasuda, who visits sellers and farmers personally to choose what to order for the store. The new book is a tribute to the variety of foods found there and a guide for using lots of the interesting and seasonal produce throughout the year. The recipes aren’t always traditional to the ingredients being highlighted. For instance, Asian greens may be given a Spanish flavor profile or purple cauliflower may find its way into tacos. But, the dishes are all intriguing. The chapters are grouped by type of produce such as Leaves, Spores and Succulents, and Roots and Tubers. The Spring Chickpea Tabbouleh made with raw chickpeas straight from the pod makes me want to grow my own. And, I want to track down some banana blossoms so I can try the Banana Blossom with Glass Noodles and Crispy Garlic that’s served in the sturdy, outer petals of the blossom. I have some locally-grown, purple snake beans that I’m going to use in a Thai curry tonight, but I can’t wait to bring home more of them to use in the Smokey Snake Beans involving tomatoes and a homemade bbq-style sauce with a recommended side of cornbread. I’ve also marked the pages for Sea Bean and Soba Salad, Aloe Vera and Mango Ceviche in which the texture of the aloe mimics that of fish, and Golden Beet Tamales with Red Pepper Sauce. These days I do still bring a lot home from Central Market, but I try to gather most of the produce I use from local farms. In the spring, potatoes and shallots appear, and I had to try the Potato Galette with Tarragon made with a layer of sauteed shallots. In the book, the galette is made with lovely purple potatoes, and I have found locally-grown purple potatoes here in the past. This time, I went with the red potatoes and shallots on offer at Boggy Creek Farm, and I used my home-grown Mexican mint marigold that has a flavor very similar to tarragon. 

The recipe suggested any homemade or store-bought pie dough, and I did a little searching through my books for a good olive oil dough. I decided to try the whole wheat, tahini, and olive oil dough found in A New Way to Bake: Classic Recipes Updated with Better-for-You Ingredients from the Modern Pantry. Olive oil doughs are so easy to make, and this one was very easy to roll out and shape for the galette. For the filling, shallots were thinly sliced and sauteed in olive oil until caramelized. Chopped tarragon, or Mexican mint marigold in my case, was added. I also added some chopped sage from my herb garden. The dough was rolled into a 13-inch circle, and the shallots were spread in the center. Potatoes were thinly sliced on a mandoline and placed on top of the shallots, overlapping slightly. The potatoes were brushed with some olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper, and topped with more herbs. The dough was folded over the edges and brushed with an egg wash. The galette baked for about 30 minutes. I crisped some sage leaves in olive oil to add on top of the baked galette. Sour cream is suggested for serving, but I loved the galette just as it was. 

This is a great make-ahead dish since the galette can sit at room temperature and holds up perfectly. You could serve thin slices with cocktails or larger slices as a meal with a salad. It’s the kind of simple dish that really puts the freshness of the ingredients into the spotlight. This book is going to come in handy for cooking with what’s locally grown and some store-bought, new-to-me produce. 

Purple Potato Galette with Tarragon 
Recipe reprinted with publisher’s permission from The Berkeley Bowl Cookbook: Recipes Inspired by the Extraordinary Produce of California's Most Iconic Market. 

Fanned out across a flaky pastry smeared with caramelized shallots, this deep royal purple potato is a showstopper. A sprinkling of fresh tarragon and a dollop of sour cream balance the galette’s richness. Serve for brunch or lunch alongside lightly dressed mixed greens. 

Serves 6 to 8 

2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil 
4 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced 
1 tablespoon fresh chopped tarragon 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
Freshly ground black pepper 
10 ounces purple potatoes (about 4), unpeeled 
1 9-inch pie dough (homemade or store-bought) 
1 egg, beaten 
Sour cream for serving 

Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a skillet over low-medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté on low for 20 minutes, or until the shallots are soft and caramelized. Turn off the heat and stir in half of the tarragon, half of the salt, and some pepper. Set aside to cool slightly. Use a mandoline or a sharp knife to cut the potatoes into 1/16-inch-thick slices. Set aside. 

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Use a rolling pin to roll the pie crust thinner and into a 13-inch circle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the crust on it. Spread the shallots over the pie crust, leaving a border around the edge (about 1 1/2 inches). Starting from the outer edge of the shallots, place the potato slices on top the shallots in overlapping layers, spiraling inward. Use a pastry brush to brush the potatoes with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle the remaining salt. Fold the border of the dough up and over the potatoes, pressing down in loose pleats. 

Brush the exposed dough with the beaten egg and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until the crust is golden and the potatoes are tender. Sprinkle the remaining tarragon over the galette and serve with dollops of cold sour cream.

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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Edamame Pate Sandwiches with Molasses Oat Bread

I’m trying to remember my first encounter with hippie food. I know that I’d eaten whole wheat bread and home-grown vegetables my whole life, but my first memory of eating food that was created as a countercultural statement was when I was a student at the University of Illinois. There was a little, vegetarian cafe in Urbana called Nature’s Table, and I fell for their garbanzo spread sandwich on whole grain bread. I hadn’t thought about that place in years, but it came back to me as I read a review copy of Hippie Food: How Back-to-the-Landers, Longhairs, and Revolutionaries Changed the Way We Eat. This book looks back at the origins of what we’ve come to call “hippie food” and how many products that used to be hidden away in health food stores became mainstream. It all might have started in the 1950s in California where optimum health and trust in nature became linked to food choices. Soon thereafter, interest in macrobiotic diets were on the rise and a demand for organically-grown brown rice developed. At first, there weren’t always scientific reasons to back up various nutritional claims, but the idea that food grown without harsh chemicals is better for people and the planet began to resonate in health food circles. Just when industrialized farming was taking off, this nascent call for doing things the old-fashioned way arrived. It was interesting to read how the Lundberg family in California became a leader in growing rice organically. Following the interest in brown rice came the return to whole wheat. White bread became a symbol of the industrial, over-commercialized food system. Recipes for baking whole wheat bread at home began circulating. All the while, more health food stores and cafes cropped up around the country. Health food buying coops appeared as well, and I was interested to read about the start of Austin’s own Wheatsville Coop that is still in business today. Speaking of Austin, all of this also led to Whole Foods Market that started here as well. Hippie food often has a negative connotation as bland or boring in its meatlessness, but it’s come a long way. I’m so glad ingredients like all sorts of whole grain flours, brown rice, and organic produce have gained popularity and can be found everywhere. And, I’m thrilled that we now have so many cookbooks and magazines to inspire delicious ways to use those ingredients. This book and memories of Nature’s Table had me craving a vegetarian sandwich on whole grain bread. I’d just seen the Edamame Pate Sandwich in Clean Eating, and I decided to bake my own bread for it. 

When I read A New Way to Bake, I had marked the page for Molasses Oat Bread, and this was a perfect use for it. It’s an easy bread to make too. Boiling water was poured over some oats, and molasses was added. While it sat, more oats were coarsely ground in a food processor and then added to a bowl with whole wheat flour, bread flour, dry milk, and salt. Yeast was added to the oat-molasses mixture before it was combined with the flour mixture. The dough was kneaded and left to rise before being shaped and left to rise again. Before baking, the loaf was scored, brushed with egg white, and topped with oats. For the edamame pate, thawed shelled edamame were pureed with walnuts, mint, green onion, salt, lemon juice, and a little water. I made a few different sandwiches. Some were made with pea sprouts, some had home-grown arugula, and some were open-faced with just tomato. 

The molasses oat bread was a fitting and delicious vehicle for the edamame pate. It’s been too long since I last had that vegetarian sandwich at Nature’s Table, so I would be able to compare the two. But, I do know that Nature’s Table wasn’t using fresh, local tomatoes on their sandwiches back then, and that gave my edamame sandwich a big boost. Is this modern hippie food? Evolved hippie food? Whatever the label for this kind of eating, I hope the concept continues. 

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