24 Jun 2012

Martha Stewart's silverbeet galette: the good, the bad

Have you ever tried a new recipe, cooked the dish, pulled it from the oven, served up a portion - with a generous side dish of anticipation - and thought, 'yes - but...'? Had a few bites, thought, that bit works, but the other bit lets the side down? Actually started re-writing the recipe while you were still eating?

That's what happened to me yesterday.

Martha Stewart's recipe was my starting point - as you may have gathered by now, I adapt or tweak or just plain change recipes (I take after my mother). This one was no different - though next time, I will change it even more.

So the good bit - the amazing bit - the pastry. The pastry stays and will be one I'll use again, for sweet and savoury. Here's the only tweak: I'll drop the salt down, and add a little sugar if I used it for a sweet tart. But this pastry was both study and delicate. I've never made a pastry with as many ingredients as this one: plain flour, wholemeal flour and rolled oats; butter, sour cream and an egg yolk. But so easy to make: just whiz it all up in the food processor. The dough comes out heavy - it has, after all, got all that fibre and all that dairy in it, I suppose.

But when it came out of the oven: so short - so short! - and flaky and light. Yet still somehow sturdy enough to support the filling, and rustic looking and substantial tasting with the finely blitzed oats and wholemeal bits. I instantly fell in love, and realised it could be so versatile: my mind was leaping ahead to wonderful, unexpected pairings of, say, generous chunks of sweet apple, or tart rhubarb, or rich summer apricots. It deserved so much better than the filling it came with.

To be fair, the silverbeet filling wasn't bad: gently softened onion, garlic, and the silverbeet stalks, then the shredded leaves. I used my darkest silverbeet, which has bright pink stems, so this 'stew' had such a pretty colour.

And that is where I should have stopped. And next time, I will (though perhaps a little fried bacon or chorizo would be delicious, as would chunks of silky-soft mushrooms).

But no, Martha advised adding balsamic vinegar. Thankfully I added only a splash - not the whole three tablespoons she advised. I can't imagine how vinegary that quantity would have tasted. And there was thyme in there too; even though I again used way less than specified, the woody herb hit a wrong note against the silverbeet and the balsamic. And then, further gilding the lily, you were to top this with a goat's cheese and nutmeg mix. This was all unnecessary. The nutmeg competed with the flavours in the silverbeet, and the cheese mix just seemed plonked on top; the whole lot was superfluous and without reason. Is it because some people don't like silverbeet, that it has to be disguised, hidden, ruined?

But let's end on the high note - the pastry! Remember the pastry! Please, make the pastry.

Have you ever had a recipe experience like this?

Martha's wholemeal galette pastry
I give the pastry recipe because it was so good, but only general notes on making a free-form tart with it. If, after all I have said above, the original does sound good to you, you can find it in Martha Stewart's 'Pies and tarts' book,as 'Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Galette'.
  • In a food processor, combine 1/2 cup plain white flour, 1/2 cup plain wholemeal flour, 1/2 cup rolled oats and a scant 1 teaspoon salt (I would use less next time; if you were using this for sweet, add perhaps 1/2 to 1 teaspoon sugar). Whiz up, then add 110 grams cold butter, 85 grams sour cream, and one egg yolk. Whiz again til it comes together.
  • Remove from food processor, form into a disc with your hands, then wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.
  • When ready to use, roll out very thin - about 3 mm thick (mine was roughly 35 cms across - I measured for you) and transfer to a baking sheet (though next time I shall experiment with placing it on my preheated pizza stone, just to see what happens). Put whatever filling you wish (sweet or savoury - I can imagine roast vegies would be delicious) in the centre, leaving a 5cm border free. Then fold up this edge all around over your filling, to make a rough looking enclosure. Brush the pastry with a little cream.
  • Into your preheated oven at 190 and cook until done - pastry golden and crisp looking. This recipe took 45 minutes; please use your judgement depending on how moist your filling is, how hot your oven runs (and perhaps if you use a pizza stone to help conduct the heat).

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