Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Very Best Of Summer

     Greetings from this side of Tuesday. I'm back from otter-tracking duties and I've got a doosie for you today. Perfect for summer. Perfect if, like me, you have access to a farmer's market nearly every day of the week, because this recipe draws its brightness from the ever-lovely summer squash and zucchini. And if you don't have a farmer's market nearby, I will confess to having bought my produce from Safeway the first time I made it.
      Ricotta is a new-found love of mine. As far as cheese goes, it's noticeably mild in flavor, but it's versatility is what sets it apart. Lasagna, squash blossoms, pancakes, and now this. Like most galettes, this one is simple to make. If you wanted to skip on the effort and pick up pre-made pie crust, I'm sure it would turn out just lovely. However, I thought the dough recipe for this was quite nice. Bordering on puff pastry, it has a toothy, supple quality to it that I could appreciate. And aside from the squash (which is seasonal!) and the ricotta, you probably have most everything in your house already.

     And if you're looking for something to do with the leftovers, I would highly suggest any of the recipes I mentioned above.  Lasagna, guilty though it may be, is delicious.  And while I may not have made the squash blossoms yet, do you really need an excuse to fry something?  As it were, I'm going to use the rest of mine to make more of those pancakes, because I just can't get enough.

Zucchini and Ricotta Galette (adopted from Smitten Kitchen)

For the pastry:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, chilled in the freezer for 30 minutes
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces and cool
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup ice water

- 1 large or 2 small zucchinis, sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
(Note: You can use any color combination of summer squash, I just preferred the alternating green/yellow)
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
- 1/2 cup (about 1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded mozzarella
- 1 tablespoon slivered basil leaves

- 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon water

  1. Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Sprinkle bits of butter over dough and using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal, with the biggest pieces of butter the size of tiny peas.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add this to the butter-flour mixture. With your fingertips or a wooden spoon, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Spread the zucchini out over several layers of paper towels. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and let drain for 30 minutes; gently blot the tops of the zucchini dry with paper towels before using.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil and the garlic together; set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix the ricotta, Parmesan, mozzarella, and 1 teaspoon of the garlicky olive oil together and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured work surface, roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet (though if you line it with parchment paper, it will be easier to transfer it to a plate later).
  7. Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the bottom of the galette dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Shingle the zucchini attractively on top of the ricotta in concentric circles, starting at the outside edge.
  8. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of the garlic and olive oil mixture evenly over the zucchini. Fold the border over the filling, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush crust with egg yolk glaze.
  9. Bake the galette until the cheese is puffed, the zucchini is slightly wilted and the galette is golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with basil, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

      Unfortunately, the fourth falls on a Monday this year, meaning that I will be out in the field and thus nowhere near a functioning computer. So allow me to send my well-wishes now. Some of my favorite memories involve a yearly pilgrimage to a cliff overlooking the San Diego County Fair. We had to break our way through a wall of Magnolia bushes that lined the road, and I remember my dad missing out one year because he accidentally got some of the sap in his mouth. But the view was unbeatable. All the beautiful lights from the carnival rides reflected in the lake at the center of the racetrack. And the best part was that it overlooked a dirt parking lot, and the fireworks would be so loud that all the car alarms would go off. A most cacophonous symphony.

      And as to what the future holds, I'm going to make some fried squash blossoms if I can ever gets my hands on some. They keep selling out at the farmers market before I get there. In addition, I'm thinking of doing a post about the work I do with the otters. I've been taking pictures as I go, and I think it's about time they got some air-time. I promise it won't all be all education. I've been seeing some beautiful things as I go, soaking up way too much sun, and reading like nobody's business during the downtime. Back to the pre-internet days. Here's hoping it's enough to keep you interested.

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