Galette de rois

I’m going to commit a blogging sin and reuse my header from last year.   Hold onto your teeth!  It’s galette de rois season!  Even amongst the resolutions to drink soy milk and take tai chi, the galette de rois is the official mascot of the month of January in France, in celebration of epiphany.  Every event, birthday party or gouter revolves around the puff pastry confection, enveloping a rich layer of dense almond cream and a lucky porcelain charm.  Whoever bites into the charm is crowned king or queen for the day.  As I like to say, the object is to win the crown and not get a crown, if you know what I mean.

I don’t condone comfort eating, but lately it’s been the only way to remedy the frightening events of the past few weeks in Paris.  I’ve reverted to cooking in times of crisis.  Concentrating on a few ingredients at hand takes my mind off the fear and back into the present. My galette de rois was no exception.

With an almond objection in our home (hello husband!), I swapped out the traditional filling with a homemade apple compote, warmed through with cinnamon and a splash of brandy.  I didn’t have a porcelain charm hanging around my kitchen. My two options were either inserting a 5 centime coin or an almond.  I took a risk and added the latter.  Sure enough, there was no crowned king or queen this year.  Someone ate the almond and didn’t complain.  And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me.

Galette de rois aux pommes

2 sheets all-butter puff pastry

2 cups apple compote, preferably homemade

1 vanilla bean

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons brandy

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

1 tablespoon cane sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using the side of the knife.  Discard the pod.  Mix together the compote, vanilla seeds, brown sugar, brandy and cinnamon until fully combined.

2.  Roll out 1 puff pastry on a cookie sheet.  Spread the compote mixture in the center of the puff pastry, creating a 2-inch border without compote around the circumference.  If using a charm, press it into the compote.  Brush the circumference of the pastry with the beaten egg.  Cover the compote with the second puff pastry.  Press the edges to fully enclose the filling.  Using a paring knife, lightly score the top of the pastry with a geometric pattern and make several holes to help the steam escape while cooking.  Brush the top with the remaining egg.  Sprinkle with cane sugar.  Bake for 30-40 minutes until the top is golden brown and the pastry feels crisp to the touch. Cool before serving.

thefrancofly.com-Jessie Kanelos Weiner-Moussaka

In a resale shop on an American military base in the middle of Japan, I never thought I would stumble upon a family heirloom.  Thumbing through the relics of 1970s food styling, including a chicken cacciatore on a nest of baby’s breath, I found a real gem Greek Cooking for the Gods by Eva Zane e Evoula Stamatoginnis.  “My mom used to have that book!” my dad exclaimed when I showed him my new find.

The K in my last name is a dead giveaway that I am indeed Greek.  (Maybe a Kardashian in my next life!)  If family legend serves me well, my English grandmother didn’t have much of a hand at cooking for my Greek grandfather.  Even the buttery, bechamel-topped Greek classic pastitsio became “dry as dirt!” left to her devices.  Her galaktoboureko was spiked with both the zest and pith of the orange which had my dad hiding under the table the day I bought a citrus zester. And nervously meeting my grandparents the first time, my mom found an exceptionally chewy bit in her spanakopita, a green rubber band.

I’ve had a bit of a culinary learning curve here as well, learning to cook everyday French food with a very picky in-house critic, my husband.  Having spent a day on end, slowly simmering away Julia Child’s boeuf bourguignon, it turned out “ok, but not a boeuf bourguignon”.  With French classics stacked high against me, I thought I would delve into my culinary past, entrusting Greek Cooking for the Gods to take me back into the courageous shoes of my grandma…

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Moussaka from Greek Cooking for the Gods by Eva Zane

For 12 servings

3 eggplants

2 pounds ground lamb or beef

2 onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped

1 can tomato sauce (8-ounce)

1/2 cup red wine

olive oil

salt and pepper

4 cups bechamel sauce

grated parmesan cheese

Peel and cut the eggplant lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices; sprinkle with salt and set aside on paper towers to absorb the moisture.  Meanwhile prepare the meat sauce.  Saute the ground meat in butter with salt, and pepper, onions and garlic, crumbling the meat with a fork.  When the meat is evenly browned, add 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, parsley and tomato sauce; stir, mix well, add wine, and simmer for 20 minutes. Wipe the salted eggplant; lightly oil a skillet with pastry brush and quick fry the eggplant over high heat; lay on paper towels to drain.  In a greased 9×13×2” baking pan, place a layer of eggplant, top with meat mixture, sprinkle with grated cheese, cover with the remaining eggplant, sprinkle with grated cheese, and cover with bechamel sauce.  (Add 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg to the bechamel, and for an exceedingly rich sauce, add 3 egg yolks to the sauce after it is cooked.)  Top moussaka lavishly with grated cheese and bake at 350° F for 1 hour.  Allow to cool, and then cut into 3-inch squares.  Variations: Substitute 2 pounds zucchini, sliced lengthwise and fried, for the eggplant.  Or, substitute 2 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut in 1/4-inch slices and fried, for the eggplant.

Juice.Blend.Taste.  thefrancofly.com. Jessie Kanelos Weiner

Eat so much foie gras this Christmas, you sprouted a beak and a few extra tail feathers?  Get the Vitamix humming and beat the bloated January blues with Rizzoli’s Juice. Blend. Taste. by Cindy Palusamy, founder of The Juicery.  A tantalizing source of over 150 recipes for colorful juices, smoothies, soups and infusions by health aficionados and nutritionists from around the world.  It is also illustrated with 75+ of my watercolors.  Here is a taste!

Juice Blend Taste, Rizzoli. Jessie Kanelos Weiner, thefrancofly.com 1

Jessie Kanelos Weiner. Juice. Blend. Taste. Rizzoli New York.

If you are in Paris, Colette is hosting a signing of Juice. Blend. Taste. with Cindy on January 6th, 2015 from 4:30-6:30.  I will be there too if you’d like to say hello.  The Juicery‘s signature smoothies and juices can also be enjoyed at the Colette Water-bar.

Juice Blend Taste, Rizzoli. Jessie Kanelos Weiner, thefrancofly.com 2

Jessie Kanelos Weiner. Juice. Blend. Taste. Rizzoli New York.

Juice. Blend. Taste.: 150+ Recipes by Experts from Around the World by Cindy Palusamy.  Rizzoli New York.

Juice Blend Taste, Rizzoli. Jessie Kanelos Weiner, thefrancofly.com 3

Jessie Kanelos Weiner. Juice. Blend. Taste. Rizzoli New York.

Buy a copy here.

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