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How to make simple tarts and galettes with whatever fruits are in season.
This series is about cooking with mostly plants, eating with the seasons and taking on whatever nature and the calendar send our way. You use what’s available, take a culinary deep breath, and figure out how to make something wonderful with it. This can conjure images of market baskets filled with perfectly ripe, in-season fruit. But if it’s the dead of winter and all you can get is frozen fruit in a bag, there’s still hope.
Right now where I live, we still have some peaches and nectarines at the market, and the apples are just arriving.
I originally created my recipe for Happy Apple Tart for a Thanksgiving cooking class I taught at a local elementary school a couple of years ago. You can make it with kids on a cozy afternoon, you can make it for your Halloween party, and you can totally serve it on your Thanksgiving dessert table. It's much less fussy than a traditional apple pie, but delivers all the same crusty/apple-y goodness.
GA-LETTE ME DEFINE: TARTS Vs. GALETTES
A tart is an open-faced, flat pie, served up on its own, out of the pan it was cooked in. Tarts can be made with precision, in a specially designed tart pan, as in this Classic French Fruit Tart. Or, alternatively, tarts can be hand-shaped, simple and rustic, which is exactly what you want to do with whatever you just brought home from the market.
When you make a rustic-style tart by folding the pastry up over the edges of the fillings, it’s called a galette. (So, just like a square is one type of rectangle, a galette is one type of tart. Make sense?)
You can use this approach to make a savory galette, too, like I did recently while cooking with two little girls on their day off from school. We slathered a rolled out pie crust with mascarpone cheese, then spread sliced tomatoes on top, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. We added some torn basil leaves when it came out of the oven, and it was simple and really tasty.
Why Happy? GA-LETTE ME EXPLAIN
I called this recipe Happy Apple Tart because it just makes me so dang happy. This is in part because I originally created it for one of my very first cooking classes, and it was a huge hit with those kids. In that class, we cooked our way through the true story of the "first" Thanksgiving, and that recipe helped to tell one of the happy parts of a story that has a lot of sad parts, too. It felt good.
It's also happy because that photograph marks a mini-accomplishment for my growing skills; it was one of the first reasonably decent food photographs on this website. One of the first I actually felt not-embarrassed to share.
But mostly, it's happy because it epitomizes everything cooking is, at its best. With a well-made pate brisee pie crust, it's special and delicious. And made with in-season apples, it's seasonal and natural, good for planet, body and soul. It's simple, and it brings everyone together. Best of all, anyone can make it, and everyone can feel proud when they do. It's for everybody.
LAVENDER CHERRY GALETTE
I created this Lavender Cherry Galette recipe for my People Like Pie series as an homage to the ancient Romans, who along with the Greeks, pioneered galette-making and in so doing, introduced pies to the planet.
The thing is, it’s so extremely simple (once you've got the pie dough), it's almost ridiculous to write it in recipe form. But the defining ingredient, dried lavender petals, makes it alluring. The lavender is there in honor of Cleopatra and her perfume-scented contribution to Rome's place in history.
The (literally) cool thing about this recipe is that it was specifically written to use frozen cherries. That makes it a perfectly seasonal contribution to your fall or winter baking repertoire. And seriously, it couldn't be easier. Just pull the cherries out of the freezer, toss them in a bowl with a couple other things, dump them into the pastry, fold up the edges and stick it in the oven.
MUCHO MANGO TART
This Mucho Mango Tart definitely meets the definition of a tart, but it's not a galette, since the pastry isn't folded up around the edges. This super-simple tart dish is another one of my faves. It's made with mangoes, which are seasonal as spring turns to summer. Mangoes definitely aren't local here in northern New Jersey, but they’re also abundant in my local Whole Foods and a couple other places in the fall.
I originally created this recipe for the very first children's cooking class I ever taught. It was called Mexican Cooking Fiesta, and the puff pastry (easy to find in the freezer section) tells the story of the short-lived attempt at Mexican domination by the French. The Mexican toppings, on the other hand (Autulfo mangoes, vanilla and cinnamon), honor the proud Mexican heritage which came out on top in the end. (You can make this dish even more proudly Mexican by serving it with Cajeta de Leche caramel sauce on top. Boom.)
Apple Galette with Brown Butter Thyme Sauce
I created this recipe for my first-ever online course, called How to Make Perfect Pie Crust Like a Boss. (You actually don’t need to make perfect pie crust to make this, but galettes are a great way to enjoy a great crust.)
There are two great things about this recipe. First, it’s an excuse not to have to peel apples, because we use those pretty green apple skins to make the whole thing look beautiful (lazy wins again!). And second is that Brown Butter Thyme Sauce. After you macerate the apples, you’ll use the remaining juices to make the sauce, which is fairly easy but also amazing on the tart.
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