Beet and Feta Galette

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My girlfriend gifts me wonderful cookbooks, and one of the last ones I received from her was Falastin, by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, published in 2020.

Sami Tamimi is well known for his co-authoring of many Ottolenghi cookbooks. At least that’s how I became familiar with him. In fact, Falastin’s foreword was written by Yotam Ottolenghi, sighting that the authors “have picked up the baton where it was left after Jerusalem.”

On the back cover, it’s written: “This is a cookbook about Palestine. About its food, its people, and their voices. It is a book about the common themes that all these elements share, and how Palestine weaves stories and cooking into the fabric of its identity.”

Falastin reminds me of the Ottolenghi-Tamimi cookbooks, in the size and heft, the beautiful photos, and fascinating stories. The recipe I chose to make is called Beet and Feta Galette with Za’atar and Honey.

It’s so easy to pull out puff pastry for a savory or sweet galette, but I was attracted to this recipe because a delicious, oregano- and thyme-laden dough is used for the crust. A nice change from puff pastry, or a plain pie crust.

Beet and Feta Galette with Za’atar and Honey
Serves 4

2 small purple beets
1 small golden beet
Salt
Black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Crust
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 tablespoon oregano leaves, finely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, fridge-cold, cut into 1/2” cubes
1/4 ice-cold water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 1 1/2 teaspoon
1 large red onion, cut into 1/4” slices
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
Salt
1 tablespoon za’atar
1/4 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup oregano leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup ricotta
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Black pepper
3 1/4 ounces feta, crumbled
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Wrap the beets individually in foil and bake for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until completely soft and cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then use an old dish towel to gently rub away the skins.

Slice each beet into 1/8” slices and place in separate bowls, to keep the purple away from the golden beets. Add 1/8 teaspoon of salt a good grind of black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of oil to the golden beets. (I only had purple beets.) Combine the purple beets with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a good grind of black pepper, and 1 teaspoon oil. Set both aside until needed.

To make the crust, put both flours into a large bowl along with the sugar, salt, and herbs. Add the butter and use your fingers to rub it into the flour. Don’t overwork the butter – you want chunks of it throughout the dough. Add the water and use your hands to gather the dough together. Transfer to a well-floured surface and roll out into a rough rectangle, about 11 x 7”. The dough here is fairly wet and sticky, so you’ll need to flour your hands, rolling pin, and work surface often.

Fold the shorter ends in toward each other so that they meet at the center, then fold the dough in half, like a book. Roll out the dough once with a rolling pin and then just fold once in half again. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Put the 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned. Add the sugar, vinegar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook for 1 minute, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, then stir in 1 teaspoon of za’atar, the parsley, and the oregano.

Put the ricotta, garlic, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper into a bowl and set aside. (I happened to have leftover creme fraiche, so I used that.)

Generously flour a 12” square of parchment paper. Transfer the crust dough to the prepared parchment paper and roll out to form a rough circle. It will have uneven edges but should be about 11” wide. Lifting up both the baking parchment and the dough, transfer to a baking sheet; you don’t want to be lifting it onto the sheet once filled.

Spread the ricotta mixture over the base of the dough, leaving a 1/2” rim clear around the edges. Top with half the feta, then the onions. Next, and this time leaving a 1 1/2” rim clear around the outside, top with the beets, alternating between purple and golden, with a little overlap between each piece. Wash your hands well, then scatter the remaining feta on top.

Using a knife, make 3/4” incisions spaced about 3 1/4” apart around the edge of the galette. Creating these “strips” will allow for the beets and cheese to be encased. Take a resulting dough strip and fold it over the beet, in toward the center of the galette. Repeat with the next strip, pulling gently to slightly overlap and seal the last fold. Continue this way with the rest of the strips, then refrigerate the galette for 30 minutes, or up to 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg and bake for 30 minutes, or until deeply golden and cooked through.

Drizzle with the honey and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoon of oil, then scatter with the remaining 2 teaspoons za’atar.

Transfer to a wire rack so that the bottom remains crisp and let cool for about 15 minutes.

Garnish with thyme leaves.

Slice once set, and serve.

And that crust?! Flaky, tender, and herby!

Spiced Chicken Tart

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I used to have this thing about “little” cookbooks, like they weren’t worthy unless they were hefty and contained lots of photographs. Fortunately, I learned my lesson, because I have a few favorite little cookbooks now.

The one I’m referring to today is called Savory to Sweet Pies & Tarts, by Janice Murfitt, published in 1993.

Maybe a sign that it’s a significant, albeit little book, is the foreword by Albert Roux, of the famous Roux brothers.

In the foreword, he states that the author “provides new and unusual ways of adding flavor and interest to the basic pastries used, such as adding crushed nuts or citrus zest, and also presents a splendid array of fillings, both comfortingly traditional and classic with an intriguing twist.”

In this case, the tart I’m making appeals to me because of the curry flavors. It could be called a curried chicken quiche in puff pastry.

Spiced Chicken Tart
Slightly adapted

6 ounces frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 tablespoons butter
1 leek, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/2 pound raw chicken breast, diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled, diced, and cooked
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon lime zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon mango chutney, diced if necessary
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
Fresh cilantro (optional)

Roll out the dough thinly on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a rectangular tart or round pie pan. Flute the edges and chill 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake the pastry shell “blind” until lightly browned at the edges, 10-15 minutes. Lower the oven to 375 degrees.

While the shell is baking, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leek and garlic and cook quickly for 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the spices, chicken, and cooked sweet potato. I browned the chicken first and seasoned with salt and pepper.

Cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken cooks a little more. Then add the cilantro, lime zest, juice, salt, pepper and chutney. Remove from the heat.

Gently place the chicken mixture into the prepared crust. Beat together the cream and eggs and pour into the pastry shell.

Bake until the filling has set, 15-20 Minutes.

Serve hot or cold, garnished with chopped cilantro.

Sour cream would also be a lovely addition.

There’s something so special about this little tart. It’s a perfect combination of ingredients all put together in puff pastry.

 

Beef Wellington

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I made beef Wellington for my husband and myself for our 32nd anniversary in January. The idea to make this for our dinner came from watching Masterchef Junior on TV.

There was an episode where the little kids were challenged to make beef Wellington, a Gordon Ramsay signature dish. But judge Ramsay didn’t show them how to make it. He simply cut through a perfectly cooked beef Wellington and told them how to make it. My brain would have shut down part way through his instructions, especially without any visuals. But these kids proceeded to tag team their way through their own beef Wellingtons, plus two sides. And most all of their beef Wellingtons came out perfectly.

So my husband turns to me at some point and says, “Those look so good. Why haven’t you ever made them?” And I really had no answer. It made me think, and I think that I thought that all beef Wellington contained liver paté, which my husband refuses to eat. But I learned that night that duxelles, essentially diced, sautéed mushrooms, can be substituted for the paté. So I figured it was about time to make Wellington. And it was well worth it!

I’ll show you what I did to make these beef Wellingtons, the Gordon Ramsay way. And if you didn’t catch Masterchef Junior the first time around, watch it next time it’s on. The kids are lovely, and act so much kinder than their adult counterparts on Masterchef or any other cooking shows.

Beef Wellington is quite extravagant, but it’s just the sum of many parts, each of which is not difficult at all to prepare. I’ll discuss all of these parts next.

Beef Wellington
This recipe serves 2, with leftovers

Crêpes
I’ve posted on making crêpes before so I won’t bother with a tutorial. You only need a total of four for these two beef Wellingtons. Crêpes are used to absorb any beef juices that leak out of the filets. This keeps the puff pastry from getting soggy!

crepes

Duxelles

Duxelles is a name for finely-diced sautéed mushrooms. The ones I made for the beef Wellington aren’t super finely diced; I wanted a little more texture. I made duxelles in a post called Crêpes Fourées. For those crêpes, I used a combination of fresh and dried mushrooms. For the Wellingtons, I used only fresh mushrooms. Either will work.
The duxelles recipe I used for the beef wellington:
1 stick of unsalted butter
3 finely diced shallots
1 pound finely-chopped fresh mushrooms
Salt, pepper
Chopped parsley

Sauté the mushrooms and shallots in the butter for at least 5 minutes, over medium heat. Season, then stir in the chopped parsley. Place in a colander over a bowl.

I used no liquid in the mushroom recipe whatsoever, although you can tip in a little marsala or madeira if you wish. Just make sure to drain the mushrooms in a colander before beginning the beef wellington. And whatever you do, always save the mushroom liquor to use in any kind of sauce or reduction. Check out this post if you’ve never prepped mushrooms before.

duxelles

Prosciutto: I used 2 thin slices of Prosciutto in each of the two beef wellingtons.

Puff Pastry: I used purchased puff pastry that I thawed overnight in the refrigerator. There are two pieces in the box of puff pastry and I used both for the beef Wellingtons; there was plenty of pastry, but I couldn’t have wrapped any more filets.

Miscellaneous Ingredients: Dijon mustard and 1 egg.

Putting together the beef Wellington:

Have your meat sliced off of a tenderloin if you’re doing the butchering yourself. I cut two – 8 ounce filets, using a scale. It’s important that they’re the same size, for cooking purposes. Season the filets with a little salt and a generous amount of crushed black pepper.

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Pour some olive oil, about 3 tablespoons, in a skillet over high heat. Sear both filets on both sides. You’re just searing the meat to get some caramelization. You’ll be using the same skillet to make the wine reduction later. Don’t wash your skillet!

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Remove the filets from the skillet and place them on a plate. Place a teaspoon or so of Dijon mustard on each filet. Using a pastry brush, brush on the mustard. Mr. Ramsay, of course, recommends English mustard, but I don’t own any. A tidbit of info from Mr. Ramsay – it’s essential to brush the mustard on the filets after having just been seared. Supposedly mustard won’t get absorbed by the meat once it’s cooled off.

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The next thing to do is roll out the pastry dough that has remained chilled.

puff

Roll it into a kind of circle, using a little bit of flour and a good rolling pin. Place a crêpe in the middle of the dough, top with a layer of duxelles, then top them with the prosciutto.

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On top of the prosciutto place the mustard-brushed filet, mustard side down.

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I cut a little circle out of the remaining two crêpes and placed those on top of the filets. These will eventually be at the bottom of the beef Wellingtons.

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Then begin the wrapping process. Have one egg beaten well in a little bowl, and a pastry brush. The wrapping process was a little challenging, and it’s definitely harder than rolling the pastry around a whole tenderloin, with an easy one-seam fix. If you’ve ever wrapped a brie in puff pastry, this is similar, except for the fact that I like seeing the wraps of dough on the top sides of the brie. In this case, I wanted smooth tops for the beef wellingtons. I also didn’t want the pastry bottoms too thick.

It was also challenging for me to take pictures during the process. I already mucked up my camera with this one shot.

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Eventually, I got them both wrapped and sealed. Then I wrapped and stored them in the refrigerator.

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Bring the beef Wellingtons out of the refrigerator for at least an hour before you plan on putting them in the oven.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Brush the Wellingtons with the remaining egg mixture.

For the first time ever, I used a temperature probe that came with my oven. Right when I put them in, I pushed the probe in to the middle of one filet. I didn’t want to keep poking the poor things with my meat thermometer. And this thing worked beautifully!

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The 2 Wellingtons took only 20 minutes to cook; I removed them from the oven when their internal temperature reached 125 degrees. This is for rare beef. From the photos, you can tell we like our beef rare.

I removed the beef Wellingtons from the oven and put them on a plate. They would have continued cooking if I’d left them in the hot baking dish. They rested for 15 minutes, during which time I got my vegetables together and heated the red wine reduction.

I placed some of the hot red wine reduction on two plates, and topped them with the beef Wellingtons. (Red wine reduction in a future post.)

reduction

Then I added peas à la Française as our simple but delicious vegetable side.

I must say, beef Wellington is a fabulously extravagant meal. You can taste all of the parts – the beef, the mushrooms, the prosciutto, and a hint of Dijon mustard.

welly1

My pastry wrapping could have been better. It should have been a tighter fit. But fortunately that didn’t affect the flavors!

Note: this recipe is for 2 individual Wellingtons. Many recipes utilize whole chunks of tenderloin, from which slice’s are cut.

verdict: Sure, this meal took a while to prepare. But yes, I’d make beef Wellington again. And it’s already been requested of me for my husband’s upcoming birthday!