Saturday August 2, 2008; 3:37 p.m.
That is the exact time that my vacation started. That is the time of the last e-mail I sent (to Lis, for the record). Right after that e-mail, I turned off my computer, and shortly thereafter left for the airport.
And so began three weeks of computer-free living in Italy, surrounded by my aunts, uncles and cousins.
It was bliss.
It’s difficult for me to describe the feeling of returning to Italy to my father’s family. It’s beautiful and warm and reassuring and healing and exciting and emotional and fun and nerve-wracking and stressful and transforming all in one.
My father was the second last of six children. And when I’m there, my aunts and my uncle surround me in a way that makes me feel like my father is always with me. Always, I am amazed at how much they look like him, how much they sound like him, how much they make me remember him.
For me, it’s like being in a cocoon and when my vacation is over, I emerge renewed and restored by the energy and caring of my relatives. Of course, add to the mix the fact that it’s Italy.
Gorgeous, sexy, stunning, breathtaking Italy.
Since I’ve been back people have been asking me for photos but the truth is I took very few pictures while I was there. I had no desire to operate anything more technically challenging then a fork and knife (both of which I operated quite a bit thank you very much).
For three weeks, almost no camera, no computer, no cell phone.
I love my blog and I love the Daring Bakers. Both of these entities have found a significant place in my life. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that it was nice to put the pause button on blogging.
So while I was away, I filled my free time with lots of observation.
I observed all the food that was put in front of me. I tasted everything. I smelled everything. I listened to the sound of everything cooking. I touched the fruits and vegetables and cheeses that touched my plate.
Best of all, I spent as much time as I could with my aunts. While I have spent very little time with them in the grand scheme, still, they are a major force in my life. They have become the standards to which I aspire. They are the most incredible women and everyday I feel blessed that they are a part of my life.
And I miss them terribly.
It was a small blessing then, that upon my return from vacation, I found a copy of a book called Olives & Oranges waiting for me.
Written by Sara Jenkins and Mindy Fox, it’s a book dedicated to the food of the Mediterranean. This beautiful book has been a great source of comfort over the past weeks. That’s why I chose it as the Flavour of the Month for September 2008.
For the first recipe, I couldn’t resist trying the Plum Galette. Just outside of an aunt’s house in Italy, there is a beautiful purple plum tree. Everyday I walked by that tree and stared in awe at its branches, absolutely laden with plums.
But they weren’t ready. Everyday I knew that I’d be leaving without tasting one of those plums this year. So as soon as I got back, I went to the farmer’s market and bought myself a basket of gorgeous purple plums. Some of them I’ve baked into this lovely tart.
And I imagine myself sitting under my aunt’s tree, staring up at those plums.
My version of the galette in Olives & Oranges written by Sara Jenkins & Mindy Fox.
I did not adapt this recipe in any way so I’m not going to share it with you here. However, if you’ve ever made a fruit tart or a fruit galette, then you shouldn’t have any problems recreating this recipe. Alternatively, I suggest you buy the book!
For the galette dough: It starts with a basic tart dough or pÃ¢te brisÃ©e. This is an excellent pÃ¢te brisÃ©e so I highly recommend using this one if you don’t want to buy the book. Instead of dividing the dough into two disks, gather it into one large disk and refrigerate it for about half an hour.
For the filling: While the dough is refrigerating, take about two pounds of plums or any other fruit you like. If using a stone fruit like plums, then simply cut them in half. If using peaches then cut the fruit into slices. Toss the fruit with a bit of lemon juice and a few tablespoons of sugar.
Assembling the galette: Once the dough has chilled, roll it out into a 13-inch circle. Arrange your fruit in the centre leaving a border. Fold the edges of the border over the fruit and then brush the border with egg wash. Sprinkle with a bit of brown sugar for caramelization.
Baking the galette: Start off by baking your galette for about 25 minutes at a high temperature (I recommend 425 degrees C.). Then lower your temperature to 375 degrees C and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until your galette crust is golden and the fruit filling has released a lot of juice and has thickened. Let the galette cool on a rack before serving.