Joe Loved the GrapesA funny thing occurred to me last Thursday as I spent the morning and afternoon cooking–not eating all day save for seasoning sample checks along the way. No, Luke. It wasn’t the two glasses of wine on an empty stomach that kick-started my impression of Kristen Wiig’s impression of Kathie Lee Gifford. I never intended for you to become the Hoda to my K-Gifford,  ”Ya Heard!”

Joe shouldn’t have loved the grapes…


Anyhoo, the funny thing that occurred? The amount of butter used in my dishes. Yes, it’s a holiday where said fat is abused but…whoa.  It was a bit rendonkulous. My poor bottle of olive oil–used so frequently in my kitchen–was pulled from the shelf only once; supplying a few glugs in a pan for sauteed lacinato and Tuscan blue kale, garlic and dried cranberries.

Here’s one of the many recipes where butter was abused. I made a homemade galette, a free-form crust or as I dub it, Lazy Man’s Pie.  I’ve always been drawn to the rusticity of such a dessert. I like the imperfect shape it takes, the fruit exposed in the center. Key thing to keep in mind with any butter dough–make sure all your ingredients are chilled. I’ve been known to put my measured flour for the dough in the freezer for a bit.

Also, another trick for super-flakey dough? Go French and use the ‘Fraisage’ method, a technique used once the fat has been cut into the dry ingredients. I’ve long felt that handling the dough as little as possible would yield supreme flakiness but this is a must-do approach for it blends the dough and creates alternating strands of butter that increase…flakiness!

The filling, you ask? I used the almighty Gold Rush apple, one that I’ve been hording like an old prospector from the local farmers markets since last fall. Named after it’s gold sheen, the apple is marked by a gorgeous blend of spicy, sour and semi-sweet undertones. It takes on a bit of an Asian-quality so I blitzed some star anise, two cloves and some cinnamon together in a coffee grinder I use for whirring spices, tossed it with six peeled and cored Gold Rush apples, a little sugar, the zest of a lemon and orange, along with a bit of their juice and a pinch of salt.

When you roll the dough out (recipe follows), you simply dump the ingredients in the center and casually fold the edges over. Doesn’t need to be perfect. When it’s ready for the oven, I will beat an egg and some water (or just use a little heavy cream) and brush the edges. Give the edges and the center of the galette a nice sprinkling of turbinado sugar, maybe add a tiny pat or two of butter to the top of the filling and bake the galette on some parchment paper on a baking rack set in the middle of the oven at 375 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

The butter pastry dough below is a fantastic recipe and easily used for a pie. Just double the recipe and divide the dough in two.

Simple. Free-forming. Lazy. Not unlike KLGiff. “WORD TO YOUR MOTHER!”

All-Butter Pastry DoughGourmet

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1/2 pound) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup plus 1-4 tablespoons ice water

Whisk together flour, sugar, and salt in a bow (or pulse together in a food processor). Blend in butter with your fingertips or a pastry blender (or pulse) just until most of the mixture resembles coarse meal with small (roughly pea-sized) lumps of butter. Drizzle 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon ice water evenly over mixture and gently stir with a fork (or pulse) until incorporated. Squeeze a small handful of dough: if it doesn’t hold together, add more ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring (or pulsing) until just incorporated, then test again. Do not overwork mixture, or pastry will be tough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 portions. With heel of your hand, smear each portion once or twice in a forward motion to help distribute fat. Gather dough together, with a pastry scraper if you have one, and press into a ball. Flatten into a 6-inch disk if making a galette, or divide in half and shape into 2 disks if using for a pie. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.