I’ve adored England since I first moved to London from New York City in October of 2005. The days were short and cold and with no friends, and no job for the first couple of weeks, I spent an inordinate amount of time at Starbucks dunking gingerbread biscuits (still called them cookies back then) into milky caffè lattes and feeling very alien. Prior to my move everyone warned me that it would be cold, but it wasn’t nearly as cold as New York; and everyone warned me that it would be expensive, but NYC wasn’t exactly a bargain so in the end neither of those two things put me off. Actually, there was nothing I disliked. The living spaces, grocery stores, restaurants, museums, public transportation, accents …. oh those accents.
I eventually met my husband and as I spent more time in both London and the English Countryside, with his family, I began to develop an even more nuanced appreciation for the culture. Afternoon tea is a daily occurrence. I do have two pairs of Hunter wellies, but they are both in subdued colors (navy blue and aubergine). I am equally happy drinking rosé in a communal garden during the extended daylight hours of summer when the sun sets after 9:30pm as I am in the abbreviated daylight hours of December when the sun sets at 4pm. And in those winter days I happily retreat inside and spend the day in the kitchen.
And this is where my acclimation to English culture really kicks in. There are a lot of those days.
Last weekend the rain started before we woke up and carried on through the day. There was no break in the clouds, the rain never fell harder or lighter. It was just a constant, unrelenting, anemic spray from the monochromatic sky. And it was enough to keep me inside, in the kitchen, for the entire day. I started with a beef stew, threw in a vegetarian chili for my sister-in-law, popped out an apple crumble with bramley apples gathered by the kids (in the rain) and, after discovering two packs of just-past-their-prime button mushrooms, threw in mushroom and courgette galette for good measure. English weather doesn’t scare me. English weather is a dream for me.
I love making galettes because I believe that the rough edges and imperfections contribute to their beauty. I’m just not a gorgeous pie kinda gal. They are also a FANTASTIC way to use up fruit and veggies (not combined, please) that are just about to go bad. Wash, trim, throw away the dodgy parts, and you have the makings for a great main course, side dish or dessert.
The key to making a great savory galette is this: You really need to fully season the vegetables before adding them to the crust. The crust doesn’t have much flavour and if you don’t season your bits enough then the result is a bit of a floury, bland pie. So don’t cheat! Cook them separately, go a little heavier on your salt, pepper and other spices and your galette will reward you immediately!
- 250g very cold butter
- 500g all purpose flour
- 75-125 ml cold water
- 750g mushrooms, quartered
- 3 courgettes, diced.
- 50g butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced through a garlic press
- olive oil
- 75ml white wine
- 1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash.
- Cut the butter into small pieces and place in a large, shallow bowl. Stick it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes. Remove the butter-bowl from the refrigerator and add the flour to the same large shallow bowl. Push your sleeves up and get both hands going...mix the flour and butter together with your hands pinching the butter pieces together with your fingertips. Keep going until the flour mixture looks like a rough sand. Add the cold water and knead lightly. If your dough is not sticking together add more cold water a teaspoon at a time. Squeeze it together until you've got a ball of dough. Flatten slightly, wrap in cling film and set aside somewhere cool to rest.
- Preheat the oven to 375F / 190C.
- It is important to saute the courgette and mushrooms separately so they each bring individual flavour to the galette. It is also important to fully season everything. Don't be shy. Remember the crust has very little flavor so if you don't want it to be bland you will need to have a heavy hand when seasoning.
- Heat a sauté pan or skillet over medium to medium high heat. After the pan is warm, add a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the courgettes. Give the pan a shake (or stir with a wooden spoon), then season generously with salt and pepper and leave them to cook for at least 3 minutes. Continue to cook, stir and season but don't stir more than once every 3 minutes. For the courgettes to caramelize properly they need constant contact with the pan and over-stirring risks turning them into mush. As soon as they are slightly browned and well-seasoned, turn off the heat.
- Add the butter to a sauté pan or skillet and place over medium high heat. As soon as the butter has melted add the mushrooms, salt and pepper. Don't touch them for 4 minutes! Then shake or stir them, add salt and pepper and let sit for another 4 minutes. Like with the courgettes you don't want to over stir them or they will never caramelize and caramelized mushrooms are the most delicious! Once all of the butter has been soaked up, add the pressed garlic and then deglaze the pan by adding the white wine and give it all a big stir. Cook for another few minutes, taste for salt and pepper and then turn off the heat.
- Line a large baking pan with baking paper.
- Roll the dough to about 16-inches (14cm) in diameter and, using the rolling pin to pick it up, transfer it to the baking pan lined with paper.
- Scrape the mushrooms and courgette gently into the middle of the galette and spread evenly around leaving about a 2-inch border around the entire rolled-out dough.
- Fold the edges of the galette over the mushroom and courgette filling creasing as you go. Using a pastry brush, brush the outside of the crust with the beaten egg.
- Bake for 40 minutes placing a piece of aluminum foil lightly over the top after 10 minutes and removing it for the final 10 minutes (this keeps it from getting too brown while you are baking).
- Remove from oven and serve right away or set aside and serve at room temperature.