Tag Archives: seasonal

Plum & Thyme Galette with Spelt Pastry

September 10, 2015

I think many of you would likely agree when I say that, I love being in the kitchen. Standing in the kitchen just feels good, right. I love the ritual of washing hands, putting on a clean apron and setting about what ever it is with purpose. I will happily spend all day there working away, listening to music or pod casts with my camera at the ready.

There are many reason why this room appeals to me, not least of which is its openness to possibility. I love it early in the morning when I am making my first cup of coffee and I love it on those warm evenings with the windows wide open and a gentle breeze stirring as I cook. It is a room where magic can happen. A room where people seem to gather as if seduced by some ancient attraction to heat and fire. In my kitchen laughter happens, serious discussions happen, bottles of wine are opened and savored, food is prepared, tasted, shared, memories exchanged.  There is a tiny black stool in my kitchen which has traveled with me to several apartments, countries and continents. Inevitably if someone is in the house they will end up sitting on this short little stool in my narrow galley kitchen – 


But also my kitchen is a space of mediation, for me alone. I can practice, think, breathe and explore. I might be making a dish I have made so many times before that the act of preparing it has nearly become ritual. I might be trying to recreate the flavors of something I had while traveling, working to bring back my memory of that place. Or, I could just be experimenting- prodding, needling at some ideas in my head. I love thinking about how things might, would, could fit together, work to create harmony and something new. Sewing bits of one recipe into another is possibly my most favorite type of work in the kitchen. 



This recipe for a plum and thyme galette with spelt crust was born from an afternoon of this sort. Plums in England are beautiful this time of year -they transition from late summer into the autumn and seem to gain an intensity and sweetness when other produce like tomato and eggplant seem to wane. It is not a sweet dessert and lies somewhere closer to a savory – serve it with a little creme fresh for something even more decadent.


The spelt crust is flaky and light but needs to be handled with a bit more care than normal pastry crust – its is crumbly at times and delicate. Make sure you let it chill properly and take care when rolling it out. Its has such a wonderful texture thought, its worth a tiny bit of extra attention. 


Plum & Thyme Galette with Spelt Pastry


For the Crust 
315g spelt flour 
185g unsalted or lightly salted cold butter
1/3c ice water (likely you will only need around 2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp raw granulated sugar
1/2 tsp fine salt 


For the Filling 
500g fresh plums, pitted stoned and sliced into 1/4″ slices 
4 large thyme sprigs, de-stemmed 
3 tbsp good quality olive oil 
2 tbsp of dark brown sugar
1 tbsp spelt flour 
1/4 tsp each of freshly grated cinnamon and nutmeg 
2tbsp fresh whole milk


Preheat your oven to 190c / 375f


combine the flour, sugar, salt and mix. Cut butter into small 1/4 cubes. Scatter butter cubes over the flour mixture and rub together with your finger tips to combined – it should be the texture of a very course sand – a few larger pieces are ok. Then make a small well at the center of the dough and slowly add cold water, mixing well as you go until the dough just comes together into a soft ball. *you will likely need only around 2-3 tbsp of the water but its good to have extra on hand in case. Once the dough is just combined, tip it out onto a flowered work surface and gently form into a disc. Then wrap it tightly in parchment paper and a clean dish towel and refrigerate – at least 1hour but up to 24. R
Remove from refrigerator aprox 20 minutes before you plan to roll it out. 


While your dough chills 
prepare the plums and add them to a large bowl with the thyme, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Toss gently to combine and then add the olive oil. Toss well and sprinkle with the flour bit by bit until it is well combined. 


Roll out your pastry onto a cool,  lightly floured work surface. Working from the middle of the dough gently roll out into a disc shape, taking care that is the same thickness throughout. It should be around 15-18 inches. Then, transfer the dough with the help of the rolling pin and lay it out on a parchment lined baking pan. Add the plum mixture, taking care to drain off any excess juice/oil and spoon on top of the crust. There should be about 1.5/2″ between the fruit and the edge of the galette. 
 Starting from one side, gently fold over the edges of the dough to form a pretty boarder around the fruit. 
Gently brush the pastry with the whole milk. 


Bake approximately 30 minutes, turning the baking sheet around once. The crust should be browned and the fruit soft. Timing may vary based on your oven


enjoy! 

Pickled Summer Strawberries

July 29, 2015

At the weekend, I set out in what can only be described as the most torrential rain of the summer. I was off to the Tate Modern to see the Agnes Martin retrospective. Having purchased tickets weeks ago – rains, winds nor floods were going to stop me and it was worth to every soggy-toed minute. Her work, which I had never seen in person – blew me away. 


It is ethereal but grounded –  it demands attention but also captivates – enveloping you as you stand in front of each uniform square canvas with its seductive textured whites and luminescent heavily brush stroked colors. 
Her work is painstakingly precise but achingly flawed – its this human element that gripped me more than anything – the perception of perfection but the reality of the imperfect, the bowed hand drawn lines and such. 


On the opening wall were are few words of Martin’s – “beauty is the mystery of life. it is not just in the eye. it is in the mind. it is our positive response to life”



This recipe is about preserving the beauty of summer for just a little bit longer – capturing the strawberries in their best moment, their sweetest – most beautiful – and savoring it for a little longer. Preserving is as much about the moment and the perception of perfection as it is about finding the beauty in the newly created.  These pickles have a personality of their own, the sweetness comes through of course but that subtle acidity from the vinegar and a bit of unexpected tang from the peppercorns compound the flavor of the berry so that it truly becomes something else. 
Of course I will advocate for using ingredients in the moment, but as you know, sometimes in summer especially, there are just too many materials peaking at exactly the same moment. This recipe is intended to preserve the flavors for a little longer but also prevent anything going to waste. 


I have been using the pickled strawberries, and the gorgeous deep pink pickling liquid in a variety of ways. I invite you to create your own flavors with them too.

I whipped a little ricotta with some salt and olive oil and spread it on rye, then I topped it with the sliced pickled strawberries, toasted walnuts and some fresh basil, chives and a drizzle of honey. 


I have also mixed the strawberries in with some fresh spinach, cold quinoa, almonds, blueberries and herbs for a lovely salad. 


Drizzle the liquid over yogurt in the morning or muesli  – the color against the white is heavenly – and reminds me of one of Martin’s paintings with is stark white background and glowy pink stripes. 


– enjoy

 Pickled Strawberries 

675 grams strawberries, washed & hulled
1 cup water
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 strips of lemon peal
20 coriander seeds
20 pink peppercorns 
3 green cardamom pods, crushed
In a sauce pan over low heat,  lightly toast the cardamom, peppercorns and coriander seeds until fragrant (about 2 mins).

Then add the water, vinegars, sugar salt and lemon peel to the pan and bring to a light simmer over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved and ingredients have combined.  Then add strawberries to the pan, hull side down and simmer 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let the mixture cool. Place strawberries and liquid into a clean, lidded storage jar and store the refrigerator overnight. 
They will keep in the fridge for about 5 days or so. 



Winter Citrus Salad

January 5, 2015

This salad is inspired by my many winters spent in California. The citrus fruits there are excellent this time of year but in truth they are the world over and that makes this salad very transferable. The sharp bright flavor of the grapefruit and orange is a welcome contrast to many of the heavier dishes of the season. 
The avocado and the roasted garlic in the dressing are grounding and lend earthiness to the dish. It would not be amiss on the table alongside smoked salmon, cream cheese and a dark rye bread. It also pairs quite nicely with fizzy prosecco. 


I quick pickle red onion often and usually have some on hand. It keeps well in the fridge for a few days. It is a more mellow accompaniment to salads or on top of chili. One small red onion makes quite a lot. Add a few ice cubes to a bowl, a heaping tablespoon of red wine vinegar, good pinch of salt, a couple of tablespoons of sugar and cold water. Swish ingredients together, add thinly sliced onion, I run mine over the mandolin and let is sit for at least 2 hours before using. Leftovers can be stored with some of the liquid in a jar in the fridge.  

Winter Citrus Salad
serves 4

1 large orange
1 large of each red, white and pink grapefruits
2 ripe Hass avocados or 1 larger one.
1 heaping table spoon of pickled red onion slices

For the dressing:
juice of one lime
2 tsp honey
1 medium sized clove of roasted garlic, smashed.
1/2 tsp salt
scant pinch of red chili pepper
1/8 cup of olive oil

To make the dressing
Combine the lime juice, honey, garlic, salt and chili. Stir to combine until the garlic is mostly mixed through. Then slowly whisk in the olive until emulsified.

To prepare the salad
cut the top and bottom of the orange and grapefruits to just expose the flesh. Standing each on end, moving the knife in a vertical direction, cut away the skin and pith until only the flesh is left on the fruit. Then turn each on its side and cut into 1/4 thick round slices.
Next slice the avocado in half an remove the pit, then cut into 1/4 thick slices and remove the skin.

Arrange the grapefruit & orange slices on a plater alternating with some of the avocado slices. Top with a few of the pickled red onion slices and pour over the dressing, serve immediately.

Winter Couscous Salad

March 5, 2014

Six months since the last post, and it feels like it has flown.

2013 was a crazy year, a trans-continental move, a wedding, styling my first cookbook, getting settled in this big new city. It was a whirlwind, although fun. 2014 has already been more grounded and I feel like I am finding my stride here.
There have been lots of new things to discover and lots to adapt to. One of the biggest changes has been the food. In San Francisco we shopped the farmers market every Saturday and had some of the worlds freshest, most diverse and beautiful produce within easy reach. In London I have struggled to find such variety and quality and our diets have become more seasonal. But, being a New England-er by birth, many of the option available to me here aren’t so very different from the foods I grew up with. 

Nuts, whole grains, dried fruits and hearty root vegetables have been staples and I have been playing a lot in the kitchen with different flavors and combinations. The exposure to more middle eastern flavors and cooking has a been a welcome new experience. I have been carrying this cookbook with me everywhere. 
This Winter Couscous Salad has also been making quite a few appearances at our table. Its great on its own or with some winter greens in the bottom of a bowl. It also works well as a side with chicken or lamb. I have been roasting up baby cauliflowers I found at the market, but thick roasted slices of full sized cauliflower works too.  

Winter Couscous Salad

Large couscous (2 cups dry). I used whole wheat here but any will do. 
1 lemon  – slice off two round slices  
3 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 bay leaf
2 cups stock
cinnamon (half a stick or 1/4 teaspoon if using ground)
Olive oil 
walnuts (1/2 cup) toasted – throw them in with the cauliflower for about 8 mins.
parsley – aprox 1/2 cup, chopped.  
feta cheese (100 grams) cut into 1/2″ cubes
green olives – 100 grams. sliced in half. The olives I use are stuffed with orange peel 
salt & pepper
Cauliflower or other protein.
If using cauliflower,
slice a medium head laterally from top to bottom in 4 slices. toss with olive oil, salt & pepper roast on a baking sheet at 350/180 until tender (aprox 20 mins) flip halfway through. Add walnuts (aprox 8 mins) at the end to toast. 
For the salad:
Put tbsp of olive oil in a heavy bottom sauce pan.
Drop in cinnamon – toast for 30 seconds or until fragrant
add 3 crushed garlic cloves and lemon slices & bay leaf – toast for another 30 seconds
Add couscous and toast over medium high heat until lightly browned. Add 1.5 cups of stock and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer until done, you may need to add more stock. I leave a very little bit unabsorbed to keep couscous from drying out in the salad. But drain if too much liquid remains 
Discard the lemon slices, cinnamon stick, bay leaf & garlic cloves. Let the couscous cool 
Mix in feta, olives, walnuts & parsley. Squeeze remaining lemon juice over the mixture and fresh cracked black pepper. Mix well.
Serve with cauliflower on the side. 
serves 4.