Butternut Squash Leek Galette

There’s some recipes I forget about for the better part of the year, but suddenly find myself coming back to wondering, “where have you been?”  And then, I can’t imagine anything more satisfying.  No surprise that I”m suddenly drawn to this warm, savory tart:  It’s inextricably married in my mind to the gentle chill that’s insinuating itself into the morning air, the burnished colors of autumn leaves, and the warmth of the indoors in the increasingly darker evenings.

Butternut Squash Leek Galette (2 of 8)

It’s a recipe I’ve been making since finding it in Gourmet several years ago (obviously–Gourmet’s demise is no longer a recent event).  I’ve even used it as a launching pad for other dishes but haven’t yet blogged it.  It’s time.

Butternut Squash Leek Galette (1 of 8)

What’s great about this recipe is that all of its component parts can be done in advance thus making it, with a bit of advance planning, a fast weeknight meal.  Or, even with no advance planning–the wait time is manageable even when you don’t start until 6pm (which is about when I am able to get going).  I made the dough and let it chill while I roasted the squash and sautéed the leeks.  (You could do any, or all, of these steps a day or two before).  The vegetables were removed from heat and allowed to cool just enough, after which I crumbled in a log of goat cheese with the tines of my fork.   The pastry dough was removed from the fridge, rolled out and filled.

Butternut-Leek-Galette

Edges folded over casually rather than fussily, and the pie was slid into the already warm oven.  I was enjoying a flaky, savory-sweet slice (followed by another) just an hour later.

Butternut-Squash-Leek-Galette-2

Butternut Squash Leek Galette

Ingredients
  • For pastry:
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons ice-cold water
  • Cream or half-and-half
  • For filling
  • 1 (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 2- by 1/4-inch slices (4 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 leeks (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced crosswise
  • 6 ounces soft mild goat cheese, crumbled
Instructions
Make dough:
  1. Pulse flour, butter, sage, and sea salt in a food processor until the butter is incorporated and the mixture resembles cornmeal. With the motor running, drizzle in ice water and pulse until it just forms a ball. (The motor’s sound will change as this happens. Do not overwork dough, or pastry will be tough.) Gently press dough into a disk and chill, wrapped in plastic wrap, until firm, at least 1 hour.
Make filling while dough chills:
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F with rack in middle.
  2. Toss squash with sea salt and 1 Tbsp oil and arrange in 1 layer in a 17-by 12-inch shallow baking pan. Roast, stirring once halfway through roasting, until golden brown on edges and undersides, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove squash from oven and reduce oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. Meanwhile, wash leeks, then cook in the 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt over medium heat, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. (Try not to let the leeks brown, you just want them to soften). Transfer to a large bowl to cool slightly.
  4. Add squash, goat cheese, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and toss gently.
Make galette:
  1. Lightly flour a surface and place the dough on top. Flip the dough over (so that both sides have a light dusting of flour) and roll out into a 13-inch round. Some ragged edges are fine. Transfer to a baking sheet (you can use the edge of the baking sheet to gently de-stick any dough from the surface and then slide it on.
  2. Arrange filling in an even layer in center of dough, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border. Fold dough in on itself to cover outer rim of filling, pleating dough as necessary.
  3. Brush pastry with cream (I just pour the cream into a shallow dish and dip my fingers in, then “fingerpaint”).
  4. Bake galette until crust is cooked through and golden on edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool on baking sheet on a rack 10 minutes before serving.
Notes

While [url href=”https://threecleversisters.com/2011/07/22/perfect-pie-crust-by-hand/”%5DI like making my crust by hand[/url], in this case I took the easy way out–in part because I figured the blades of the food processor would finely distribute flecks of sage throughout the dough more uniformly than if I tried to chop the herbs myself. Dried sage, on the other hand, being so fragile as it is, probably would crumble quickly and distribute itself easily, even by hand.

The dough can be chilled up to 1 day. The filling can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered.

Vacation Blueberry Pie

Cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen is always a bit of an adventure.  You never know what you’re going to find, what “obvious essentials” will be glaringly absent, what will need to be improvised, and whether you’ll rise to the occasion.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (10 of 12)

Last week, our family all rented a house together in Cape Cod.  And I should say extended family–not just us three sisters and our parents but various generations of in-laws and of course my two sons to lap up all the attention.  While we made sure to eat plenty of fried seafood, ice cream, and pizza, we also made use of the kitchen, which came fully stocked with all sorts of pantry items of varying age (how old exactly were the three 16 ounce jars of ground nutmeg?) and provenance.  And because the rule of the house was that anything you use up has to be replaced by the end of your stay, lots of boxes were nearly–but not quite–emptied.  It’s always the technicalities isn’t it?

Vacation Blueberry Pie (3 of 12)

Since we had a full house, though, we were going to the grocery store seemingly every day.  And with so many people to feed, in summer, I decided I had to make a pie.  But here’s that part about the trickiness of baking in someone else’s kitchen.  There was no pie plate to be found.  Nor a rolling pin.  And I hardly have to tell you that lacking those two items, there was no pastry cutter.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (4 of 12)

Vacation Blueberry Pie (6 of 12)

But this is a happy tale of staring down hardships and succeeding, not a mournful tale of a dessert that never came to be.  After all, adversity is the mother of invention.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (8 of 12)

Vacation Blueberry Pie (7 of 12)

As for the first obstacle–the missing vessel–a 9 X 13 casserole dish proved to be more than a perfect substitute.  More than perfect since its roomier size meant more pie for all–hardly a tragedy.  I used 1 1/2 times my normal pie dough recipe which yielded a generous amount of crust.  And that dough was made by the most low-tech method of all, simply rubbing the butter into the flour:  a technique I have a newfound confidence in, thanks to this video.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (5 of 12)

Finally, the best kitchen hack, and one which proves that good wine always saves the day.  A wine bottle (we had a few in the fridge) made a fine stand-in for a rolling pin, with its naturally cool surface, heft, and smooth cylindrical shape.  It was easy to maneuver, despite its missing “handle” on one end, and while I feared sloshing alcohol would be distracting to my work, a full bottle turned out to glide right along the surface.  The label left a slight indentation in the rolled-out dough, but for me the additional evidence of my weapon of choice was charming rather than frustrating.  I wouldn’t, however, recommend using a fine vintage for this, if you’re one of those people who saves the labels in a wine diary–things got a bit messy.  All in all, I was pretty excited about this whole process.  I’ll be using a rolling pin when available but freely admit that I’ll be patting myself on the back about this one for a while.  Who cares if I can’t claim to have invented the idea?  Note that I’ve added extra tips on the rolling out process–applicable to whatever tool you’re using–in the recipe itself.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (2 of 12)

I subbed in limes for lemons, as I like to do–its zing pairs nicely with blueberries, and we had plenty on hand for gin and tonics anyway.  Brown sugar had been purchased for cookies and was used instead of the pantry’s remaining scrapings of white sugar.  After all, we wouldn’t want to have to replace it now, would we?

Vacation Blueberry Pie (1 of 2)

Bright afternoon sun, sea air only steps away and fresh blueberry pie passed around a large table.  And a bit of adventure (broadly defined). Can’t get more summer than that.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (2 of 2)

Vacation Blueberry Pie

Note:  These measurements are for a 9 X 13 casserole dish. If  you’re in a more fully stocked kitchen and want to use a regular pie plate, use 6 cups of blueberries, and reduce the sugar (so long as you want to keep it on the less sweet side, as I do).

Pie Crust 
  • 3 3/4c flour
  • 4 1/2 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 3 sticks (12 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 3/4 to 1c ice cold water (put a cup of the coldest water you have in the fridge with ice in it for at least 15 minutes).

Pie Filling

  • 8c blueberries (4 pint packages)
  • 2/3 c brown sugar
  • 1/4c corn starch
  • 1 lime (zest and juice)

Note that there is chilling time in this recipe, so make sure to factor this into your plans.  This need not be a nuisance–you can make the crust a day (or a few) ahead so that you need only roll it out, fill it, and bake it the day you want to serve it.

Make the pie crust.  Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until it is pebbly with pea size chunks, and clumps together when you grasp it.  (See my post here for full instructions, or alternately rub the butter into the flour as I described earlier in this post).  Dribble in the cold water and stir with a spatula until it forms a rough ball.  Only add as much water as is necessary to form the ball–it may be less than the recipe calls for and will depend on the humidity in your kitchen.

Dump onto a clean surface and flatten the dough into a rough square.  Cut it in half, with one half slightly larger than the other.  (This happens to me without even trying, of course!)  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour.

Take the larger piece of dough out of the refrigerator and unwrap.  Place on a well-floured surface, then flip it over.  This is easier than flouring your rolling pin, though technically it’s better to flour the pin.  I like to make fingerprint indentations around the perimiter of the dough to help soften the edges–this seems to help prevent cracking.  Note that although the name of the game in pastry is cold, cold, cold, I do find that if the dough is TOO cold it’s almost impossible to roll–though no one ever seems to admit this.  You can whack it a bit with your rolling pin to soften it or just give it a few minutes to soften slightly on its own before proceeding.

Roll the dough out into a large rectangle.  Trim it so that it measures 13 inches by 17 inches.  Fold in half, and then in half again, and transfer to the casserole dish.   Chill for a half hour.

In the meantime, make the filling–stir together the berries, sugar, cornstarch, zest, and juice and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 425F.

Remove the second piece of dough from the refrigerator, and roll into a rectangle trimmed to measure about 11 inches by 15 inches.  Remove the casserole dish from the refrigerator, fill with the berries, and transfer the second piece of dough on top.  Pat it down gently over the filling, and crimp the edges together with the lower layer of crust.  (Crimp with your fingers by holding your thumb and pointer finger together on one side of the joined pieces of dough, while using your other pointer finger to push the dough into those two fingers–I think of it like making little triangles).  Trim any excess dough, cut slits in the top to let steam escape, and slide onto a cookie sheet to catch any spills in the oven.

Place the dish on the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for about an hour or until the juices are bubbling and thick and the crust is nicely browned.  After 45 minutes, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Vacation Blueberry Pie (9 of 12)

Perfect Pie Crust by Hand

Making pie is so nervewracking!

Considering how many people practically recoil in fear at the idea of making pie dough, it’s a wonder how the phrase “as easy as pie”–became such a cliché.  We all know what the perfect crust should be.  Shatteringly flaky, buttery, gently browned and crisp, setting off whatever delicious filling it is cradling.  We all fear what our efforts will result in:  a crust that is limp, soggy, greasy, undercooked or burnt (and if we’re really lucky we’ll manage part charred, part raw!)

I’ve actually gotten fairly comfortable making pie dough, but though I don’t have The Fear, my dough has rarely wowed me.  It’s been fine, I think, and what’s more, I’ve always managed to roll out the dough without too many tears (that’s tears, in dough, and tears, from your eyes).  But…  

I’ve been making my dough in the food processor, which is an unintimidating, almost foolproof method.  (Almost, because I have on occasion not used truly ice-cold water and ended up with dough sludge on the bottom of the mixing unit).  You pulse the flour/sugar/salt mixture together with the butter until you get something resembling cornmeal, then you trickle in ice-cold water until the mixture forms a ball.  Chill, roll, bake, eat.  Simple enough.

I recently found Deb’s (you know, that Deb at Smitten Kitchen) series of posts on pie crust, and was convinced to attempt my next pie crust the old-fashioned way:  no food processor, but just a pastry cutter, spatula, and bowl.  (Deb rightly points out that if you think this sounds like a lot more work, consider the fact that you don’t have to wash your food processor.  As someone who finds soaping up all those pieces incredibly annoying, I must admit that this alone was probably enough to convince me to try her method).

But Deb also points out that making dough by hand also results in a flakier crust.  Yes, of course it does–isn’t that always the way with making things by hand?  I’m might be rolling my eyes a little as I say this, but am also nodding along penitently.  I should have known better as I even took a baking class two years ago where we made crust by hand, and it’s that amazing pie crust that I’ve never been able to replicate. Duh. 

The reason “by hand” is better is as follows:  when you’ve managed to break down your butter to the ideal texture, you don’t want to break it down any more when you add the water.  It’s the fineness of the butter that “makes or breaks” you on flakiness and tenderness.  If you add water in the food processor, those whirring blades continue to chop the butter more and more finely.  If you stir in the cold water with a rubber spatula or spoon, this doesn’t happen.  And a few irregularly streaky pieces only enhance the final product.

I’m not going to try to compete with the Smitten Kitchen tutorial, which I’ll link again to here.  (Bonus pie tips from Kate McDermott at the Kitchn here).  But let me tell you, I am sold.  You had guessed as much already, hadn’t you?  The method is easy, the dough was a delight to roll out, and the final crust was perfectly flaky.  And no annoying food processor parts.

I’ve humbly included a few of my process photos (note how you can actually see the streaks of butter; it’s a good thing!), followed by a few (very important) tips of my own.

–Use a big heavy bowl that you aren’t afraid to bang away at with your pastry cutter.  You’ll want to work fast, and you can’t work fast if you’re working gingerly.

–I usually mix over the divider in my sink (there’s a little platform at the corner where my bowl fits perfectly) so at least some of the inevitable clouds of flour settle in the basin.  I like to think it speeds cleanup.  Again, you need to mix quickly and you can’t do this if you are worried about making a mess.  (Not that it makes that much of a mess anyway, but half of my reticence in the kitchen is psychological). 

–It’s been said a million times before, but cold cold cold.  For insurance I throw the butter in the freezer when I’m getting ready.  I don’t use it completely frozen, but I figure taking the temperature down a few degrees can only help.  Similarly, I have made the mistake of thinking the cold water out of the fridge water dispenser is “ice cold.”  It’s not.  Switch to the ice dispenser option, then add cold water.  Then put it in the fridge for 10 minutes.  Now you may proceed.

There’s still several months of fruit left just begging to be made into delicious pies.  And if you really think it’s still too hard to make a good pie crust, let me show you one last photo:  it really is “as easy as pie.”  (OK, OK, my 3 year old did not roll out the pie dough.  But he helped, or thought he was helping.  And he’s a way cuter model than me).