Michael was traveling quite a bit over the past two weeks, going to such varied places as Bangor, Maine, and the suburbs of Toronto. (He didn’t even get a stamp in his new passport for the latter!) It’s the first time he’s had to travel for work since we moved, so it was subsequently my first opportunity to have a few sessions of sabor de soledad. Over the years of cooking for myself I’ve tried to strike a balance between trying new things and indulging in dishes and ingredients that I like but Michael doesn’t. Cheese often plays a big part–but not always–and sometimes I’ll even content myself with a big salad.
This time around, I had some fun with French food, from making my first galettes to flambeeing shrimp for the first time on my own. I’m not sure what exactly sparked this sudden desire for French food–perhaps it was the abundance of crisp French roses and whites we enjoyed this summer–but I found myself flipping through both Rachel Khoo’s The Little Paris Kitchen and Mimi Thorisson’s A Kitchen in France with greater frequency, mentally noting dishes that I wanted to make as soon as possible.
The galettes were the real challenge for me, only because I’ve never made them before and so I knew that I’d probably mess up more than I would make successfully. I was using Rachel’s recipe, which is absurdly simple–just a mixture of buckwheat flour and salt and water, whisked until it reaches a cream-like consistency and then chilled for at least an hour–and she even mentions that usually the first crepe or galette never comes out very well. For me, it was the first…then the fourth, then the sixth and seventh…well, you get the idea. I was fortunate to make enough to eat, and they weren’t very pretty, but I knew I wanted to give them another try very soon. The opportunity came sooner than I thought because the day after Michael got back from Maine he had to go to DC and was meeting a close friend of ours for dinner there. In the future I’m going to have to figure out a way to join them since we do live so close, but in this instance I took it as a sign to try the galettes again because I still had enough ingredients left over to fill them.
Practice really is the key to mastering them, because this time around I only messed up three. Progress! There are now a whole mess of them in the freezer that need to be warmed up gently, and after this second go-around I think I’m going to have them for dinner one weeknight when Michael gets home from the gym, albeit his will not be filled with creamy burrata cheese.
Speaking of burrata, the technical name of these are galettes bretonnes, and while they are commonly filled with ham and cheese, I doubt very much that it’s the cheese they have in mind. (Normally it’s comté or gruyère cheese and cooked ham from what I can tell.) Burrata is perhaps not an ideal cheese to use because it’s not a hard, grating cheese, but I put some pieces on paper towel to drain them just a bit, and with a little bit of care they didn’t make the galettes too soggy.
Galettes bretonnes with burrata, prosciutto, garlic, and thyme
adapted from The Little Paris Kitchen by Rachel Khoo
For the galettes:
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
Pinch of kosher salt
2 1/2 cups water
3-4 tablespoons butter
To fill three galettes (i.e. enough for one hungry person)
1 ball of burrata, cut into wedges and carefully drained on paper towels
3 slices prosciutto
2 cloves garlic, cut into slices
2-3 sprigs thyme
2 teaspoons olive oil
To make the galette batter, combine the flour and salt and then slowly add the water and whisk well to incorporate until the consistency is like cream. Place the batter in the fridge to rest for at least an hour to overnight, and then whisk it gently again before you start making them.
Before making the galettes, have all of your fillings ready to go: fry the garlic slices over medium heat until golden brown but not burnt, and then remove from heat and set aside. Have the cheese and ham also ready to go.
Make the galettes: Over medium-high heat, put a bit of butter into a small nonstick pan (6 to 7 inch pan) and use a brush to coat it well. Put about 3-4 tablespoons of the batter into a ladle (measure this out with water first so you get an idea of how much that is so you can eyeball it better) and add it to the pan. Cook on one side until the pancake can easily move (about 1-2 minutes), and then carefully flip it over to let it cook on the other side for about a minute more before placing it on a plate. You may need to practice flipping on a few, but I have found gently using a spatula has yielded the best results. Keep finished galettes covered and keep making them until all the batter has been used.
To assemble, place a slice of ham on each galette, and then the cheese, garlic, and thyme leaves. Either leave as-is or gently roll them, and serve immediately. The remaining galettes can be frozen and kept for up to two months.