It feels a bit belated to be posting such starry-eyed anecdotes about my experiences cooking in Montreal, but I’m almost done! I promise! I think we’re entering the tail end of rhubarb season, so if you haven’t made a single dish with this tart, delicious, remarkable fruit, please make this galette tomorrow morning. Thank you.
I decided to make this spiced rhubarb galette for a dinner party, and I spent the better part of a morning spastically researching the best (i.e. easiest) ways to make the pastry dough, leaving myself with barely enough time to shop for the ingredients, resulting in two near-misses with angry cars while racing on my bike to Jean-Talon.
Turns out, it is the easiest dough in the world. Stalks of rhubarb, sliced on the diagonal, soak in a little freshly squeezed orange juice, heapings of zest, and a myriad of spices — I riffed a bit one what Zested uses, and ended up with a heady combination of cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and coriander. The filling sat on the counter for an hour while I made the dough, and I kept leaning over into the rhubarb bowl and inhaling deeply and smiling a little. This is what it looked like during prep:
It was a bit scary to work with the dough at first, because it felt very dry and on the verge of cracking everywhere. I thought for sure I had messed up. But then, magic: everything sort of elasticated and warmed up and tugged into place. The filling spills into the crust raw, and oozes out its juices as the crust cooks and bubbles away. The crust is brushed with an egg wash and topped with generous handfuls of turbinado sugar. This is what it looked like before entering the oven for 45 minutes:
And this is what it looked like coming out:
…And that’s how you make a Gourmet magazine cover! JOKES! Anyway, I’m not a big ‘sweets’ person. I kinda hate super-sweet. Sweet things are almost always more interesting if they’re tempered by other non-sweet things (sea salt on brownies; ginger in strawberry jam; french fries in milkshakes etc). This has been proven true so many times it should be a rule, I think. This dessert was perfect because the crust is buttery but not sweet, and the filling is extremely tart, but somehow made outrageously decadent through the magical combination of citrus and spice. It’s fresh and clean and juicy and sour. I loved it.
And! I also did a quick rhubarb crumble for the vegan contingent of the dinner party crew, inspired by my dear friend Anna, who made Bittman’s simple crisp for a party while I was in Ithaca. Hers was devoured in about 10 minutes. I made it vegan by replacing the butter (used in the crumble topping) with weird vegan spread, which felt awful in my hands, and looked awful before it went into the oven, but as it turns out, tastes exactly the same. Life! So many awesome surprises! This effortless crumble — heavy on pecans and brown sugar — was VERY sweet compared to the vaguely Middle Eastern-tinged crostata (I had one piece of each, side by side, to compare. Science!), but in their own unexplainable ways, complimented each other like a pair of lovers holding hands. Similar, but different all the same.