Strawberry and Goat Cheese Galette

I’m probably going to hear someone say, “Another cheese and strawberry pastry?” Honey, yes. Cheese and fruit are gifts from the gods and we need to enjoy them as much as possible. Also, when you have an abundance of fruit, you need to use them up in any way possible because nothing is worse than some forgotten and moldy strawberries.

When I’m testing new ideas and recipes, I always end up buying more produce and ingredients than I will need. So when some of those ingredients are perishable or aren’t a part of my usual food-du-jour, I use those ingredients to inspire new recipes. This one is a product of that system and I have it on good authority from my coworkers that it is real good.

For some random reason, I had some quick puff pastry in my fridge. Now for those of you who are not aware, quick puff pastry is the delicious bastard child of puff pastry and it’s the best invention. After sliced cheese of course. It’s flour, salt and cubed cold butter mixed together with cold water, rolled and “laminated” like puff pastry, but instead of the slight annoyance of trying to make everything perfect like regular puff pastry, you just roll it out, do your folds, and see the butter cubes transform into butter smears.

I could try to explain the process, but I’ll probably butcher it and there are many people who have already done so, in beautiful ways and with way better photography than me. Sophisticated Gourmet has a how to: quick puff pastry that I will link below. It’s very detailed and easy to follow along to. Check it out!

http://www.sophisticatedgourmet.com/2010/08/quick-puff-pastry/

Now, I just had quick puff lying around, but you can use any dough you have. Galette dough specifically has some cornmeal in it, to give it some texture, but you can make a galette with any kind of dough. We don’t need to be sticklers to the rules, I won’t tell anyone. If you have no desire to make your own dough, store bought pie dough or puff pastry dough would work just as well. Just follow its specific baking instructions and bake until golden brown.

As I said earlier, I love cheese and fruit. Playing around with different combinations make it all the more fun and you can really find some amazing pairs. Goat cheese is easy to find and pairs well with almost anything, so I find it highly versatile and useful in the summer. It also has that delicious tang that works well with fruit and citrus. If you don’t have strawberries or if it’s later in the summer and say, peaches are in season, slice those bad boys and throw them on the cheese. It’ll be just as simple and drool-worthy.

STRAWBERRY AND GOAT CHEESE GALETTE

8-10 oz            quick puff pastry or any preferred pastry dough

2            Tbsp strawberry preserves/jam

¼             cup goat cheese

½            cup thick sliced strawberries

1            tsp thyme

squeeze of lemon

salt and fresh cracked pepper

egg wash

raw sugar

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking pad.
  2. Roll out puff pastry into a round shape, 1/8 in thick.
  3. Spread the strawberry jam in the middle, leaving a two-inch border of bare puff.
  4. Crumble the goat cheese on top of the jam. Season with salt and black pepper. Top with half of the thyme.
  5. Layer sliced strawberries on top of the goat cheese, mounding them up. Squeeze a tiny bit of lemon on top of the strawberries and top with the remaining thyme.
  6. Fold the border up over the strawberries, making sure to leave an opening for the steam to escape. If you don’t, the galette might explode.
  7. Egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar.
  8. Bake until the crust is golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating halfway through baking. Drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Let the galette cool before cutting and serving. The inside cheese and strawberry mixture will be very hot and liquid-y. (Galette is best eaten the day it was baked) It’s delicious served with ice cream for dessert or an iced coffee as an afternoon snack.

Strawberry and Brie Muffins

It’s that part of the year when the weather goes from a perfect, slightly rainy mid-70 to a sweltering and humid hi-80. For those of us in the south, spring is a fleeting aspiration. But as spring quickly melts into summer, the heat reminds us of two things: the beauty of air-conditioning and the abundant produce to come. First, greens of all sorts, from crisp romaine to spicy arugula, second strawberries and then third, tomatoes.

There’s always more to celebrate during these hot days, but I like to grab all the strawberries I can. Eat them, jam them, pickle them, or pie them up. This time I decided to revisit an old recipe that I developed during my internship at America’s Test Kitchen. I took inspiration from my mother’s strawberry baked Brie and baked up a relatively good muffin. When I looked back at the recipe five years later, it definitely needed some work, but the bones were good enough.

Five years is a century in kitchen work. During that time, I have gone to pastry school and worked in three different kitchens, working faster and cleaner, but also learning the basics of baking in a way where it’s become second nature. Why have milk in a recipe when I could add buttermilk instead for a tangy punch? This way I can add baking soda, which give the muffins a fluffier texture. Small tweaks like this gave this pubescent recipe a push into adulthood.

I love jam of all kinds. Preserves too. And jellies. It’s such a wonderful addition to any plate during all times of the day and year. And there might be no better pairing than jam and cheese, with bread. And butter. Okay, okay, so all the food groups need to make an appearance. As I stated before, strawberry jam and Brie have a special place in my heart due to my mother, who made baked Brie for every special event she hosted. As soon as it came out of the oven, I would race downstairs to steal some, burning my mouth on the way back up to my room so I wouldn’t have to make small talk with their guests.

This recipe is a pretty straightforward muffin; mix the wet into the dry and divide. It has a layer of strawberries in the middle and on top. Brie is a rich addition that gives the muffins a savory component and when halved and toasted, the Brie melts slightly to add a delicious gooeyness. Brie is a soft cheese, so I like to freeze the cheese before I cut it into cubes. I find it slices easier. I also prefer the rind off, but I have tested this muffin with the rind on and it does enhance the Brie flavor. If you are so inclined, leave the rind.

The strawberry size is preference based as well, but I like them sliced or quartered. Any strawberry jam will do, but if you’ve made some, it’s even better. If you haven’t, not a problem! If you have time, mash up some strawberries and cook for 15 minutes, until soft. Add store bought jam or preserves to the cooked strawberries and you’ve ramped up the strawberry-ness to the next level.

Thank you for reading this far and indulging my story telling. Enjoy!

STRAWBERRY AND BRIE MUFFINS

MAKES 12 MUFFINS

2 1/3      cups (11 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour

1/4         cup packed brown sugar

1            Tbsp baking powder

1            Tbsp baking soda

1             tsp salt

6             ounces Brie, rind removed and chopped into 1/4 in pieces

1/2          cup strawberry jam

2             large eggs

½            cup buttermilk

1/3          cup canola oil

1             cup sliced strawberries

raw sugar to top

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin tin with baking spray or line with muffin cups.
  2. Whisk flour, brown sugar, baking powder, nutmeg and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in chopped Brie.
  3. Add eggs, milk and oil to jam and whisk until combined. Add to flour mixture and fold together until it just combines; do not over mix. Spoon two tablespoons of batter into prepared muffin tin and cover layer with a layer of sliced strawberries. Cover strawberries with another two tablespoons of batter and cover again with sliced strawberries. Top evenly with raw sugar.
  4. Bake until tops are light golden-brown, about 14-18 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Let muffins cool in tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Muffins are best eaten the day they are baked but can be placed in zipper-lock bag and stored at room temperature for 1 day or refrigerated for 4 days; toast and butter before serving.)