law school

It’s difficult, and exhilarating, and everything I expected it to be.

I was going to regale you with exciting tales of the Socratic method, of color-coded note taking and bouquets of freshly sharpened pencils, of my love affair with briefing cases, and the new-to-me world of legal podcasts.

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Instead, I’ll report on the sliver of my life that hasn’t changed. I’m still obsessively tending my little farm, creating chaos in the kitchen, and finding an excuse to bake something every day.

A couple of weekends ago, I picked tomatoes.

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And then I made a tart.

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Tomato chèvre galette with a cornmeal crust

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The tomatoes used in my galette pictured above were already roasted, because my cashew chèvre was quite tangy and I wanted my tomatoes extra sweet. However. The recipe is written for raw tomatoes, which are what I most often use. Be sure your layer of cheese underneath is nice and thick (to soak up any extra juice). If you go the roasted tomato route, the time it takes to preheat the oven and roast them is about the same amount of time it takes to chill the dough. Chilled coconut oil can be used in place of vegan butter, but it warms up more quickly so observe mise en place before you get started, to keep things moving along. Time spent from rolling out the dough to sliding the galette into the oven is under fifteen minutes. If the dough tears when you’re folding up the sides, just pinch it together and carry on; free form tarts are supposed to look rustic, not polished.

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1 1/4 cups whole spelt flour + additional flour for rolling out the dough
1/2 cup fine ground cornmeal (yellow or white)
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
6 tablespoons vegan butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup ice water

3/4 cup vegan chèvre-style cheese
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
pinch fine grain sea salt
2-3 grinds of white pepper
Soy (or other non-dairy) milk, for brushing the crust

In a food processor add the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt, and pulse a few times to combine. Add the butter and pulse again, until it’s in pea-sized pieces. Add the olive oil and ice water and pulse a few more times until the dough comes together; it will be sticky. Turn the dough out onto the center of a large piece of parchment (the size of your baking tray) and shape it into a disk, adding a little spelt flour to the top of the disk to keep it from sticking to your hands. Carefully fold the parchment up around the disk, wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap (or zip inside a gallon-sized bag), and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Fifteen minutes before you want to put the galette into the oven, adjust a rack to the center position and preheat to 375 F / 190 C. Halve the tomatoes and set aside.

When the dough is ready to be rolled out, carefully unwrap the parchment paper. Roll the dough into a circle until it reaches the edge of the parchment – or is 1/4-inch thick – whichever comes first. Sprinkle with flour as you go along to prevent it from sticking to the rolling pin. Transfer the parchment/dough to the baking tray you’ll be using and put it into the freezer for a few minutes to firm the dough back up. When you pull it back out, leave the parchment on the baking tray while you finish putting the galette together. Carefully spread the cheese out from the center, leaving a two-inch border of dough. Arrange the tomatoes in an even layer over the cheese, cut side up. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, and thyme leaves over the tomatoes. Using a spatula if necessary to avoid sticking, lift up an edge of the dough and fold it up over the filling. Continue folding the dough, forming a pleated edge as you go along. Pinch any tears in the dough together with your fingers. Brush the dough with soy milk. Bake until the crust has browned, 35-40 minutes. Slide the galette onto a cooling rack and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before cutting into wedges. This tastes good both warm from the oven and at room temperature.

Prep time (dough): 10 minutes | Prep time (galette): 15 minutes | Inactive resting time: 1 hour | Cook time: 40 minutes

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The accidental galette

A couple of weekends ago, Nina and I drove a good hour to hit up a vegan pop-up brunch at a new-to-us bakery. It was a (pleasantly) hectic end to a productive weekend, and an opportunity to see our dear friend Kathy who has been busy getting not one, but two cookbooks wrapped up for publication this year – it was an Occasion. Specifically, a glitter-encrusted shoes and blue velvet blazer Occasion.

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Our friend Christine was there signing people up for the 2013 Vegan Pledge. Naturally, Nina wanted to help out.

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This past weekend was also an occasion, a wonderful three-day laze-about-the-house affair. There were board games, hot cocoa, cast iron skillet Chicago style pizzas, and an accidental galette. Apple cinnamon, with a flaky rye-spelt crust. I had every intention of sleeping in that morning, but it was not to be. Instead, Nina found out firsthand what happens when you wake me up before sunrise on an otherwise lazy Sunday; you get to roll out pastry dough.

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Apple cinnamon galette with flaky rye-spelt crust
Rustic rye dough adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce
Filling adapted the teensiest bit from Oh, Ladycakes

This dough recipe makes enough for two 9-inch galettes; the filling is for just one.

Rustic Rye Dough

3/4 cup ice water

Dry Mix:
1 cup dark rye flour
1/2 cup dark spelt flour
1/2 cup light spelt flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Wet Mix:
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted vegan butter (coconut oil will not work)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, adding back any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces and add them to the dry mixture.

Rub the butter between your fingers, breaking it into smaller bits. Continue rubbing it until the butter is in sizes ranging from peas to hazelnuts. The more quickly you do this, the more the butter will stay solid, which is important for the success of the recipe.

Add the vinegar and 8 tablespoons of ice water to the flour mixture. Working from the outer edge of the flour, mix the ingredients with your hands just to moisten the flour. The dough needs to come together as mostly one lump, with a few shaggy pieces. Squeeze the dough together to see if a ball forms. If it is too dry to come together, add additional ice water 1 tablespoon at a time.

Pile the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, sprinkle a few drops of water over the top, wrap tightly, and chill for a minimum of 1 hour or overnight.

Unwrap the dough onto a floured surface. Pat the dough into a square, then use a rolling pin to roll it into a rectangle about 8 1/2 by 11 inches. The dough will be crumbly and rough around the edges, but don’t add more flour or water, as it will come together during the rolling.

For the first turn, fold the dough into thirds like a letter. The seam should be on the left side. Turn the dough so that the seam is at the top and parallel to your body.

For the second turn, again roll the dough into an 8 1/2 x 11-inch rectangle and repeat the previous step.

For the third turn, repeat the previous step, then wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 1 hour or up to 3 days before using.

Apple cinnamon filling

4-5 apples (a mix of varieties is best), peeled and sliced into 1/4-1/2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup + 2 teaspoons turbinado sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In a deep pot over medium heat, melt the coconut oil. Stir in 1/4 cup of sugar and the cinnamon; continue stirring until the mixture has thickened to syrup consistency, about 4-5 minutes. Add the apples and stir an additional 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool while you prepare the dough.

Assembling the galette

Cut the chilled rye dough into two pieces; wrap the piece you will not be using in plastic and return to the refrigerator to chill.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the remaining portion of dough into a rough circle about 15 inches in diameter. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Or, if your dough is being rolled out by a six-year old, perhaps consider rolling it directly on the parchment paper (lightly floured, of course). Transfer the parchment and circle of dough, together, to the baking sheet.

Using a slotted spoon, heap the apple pieces onto the middle of the dough circle. Fold an edge of the dough up toward the center to cover the fruit; about 3 inches of crust should be showing. Continue folding the edge of the dough toward the apples and over, creating folds; lightly pinch to seal as you go. Drizzle the syrup over the apple filling. (Unused syrup is fantastic on steel cut oats or ice cream.) Transfer the galette to the freezer for a minimum of 1 hour. At this point you could wrap the galette well and freeze for up to a month. If making more than one galette at a time, transfer this one to the freezer to chill while you prepare the next one.

At this point, position a rack in the center and preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C.

Once the galette is chilled from the freezer and the oven is hot, brush water around the edge of the dough and sprinkle liberally with the remaining 2 turbinado sugar. Bake for about 50-60 minutes, turning the pan halfway through. The galette is ready when the crust is golden brown. Serve warm from the oven if possible; tastes best eaten the same day it is made.

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