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Galette de Pomme de Terre #FoodieReads


After I read a book for a future Cook the Books event Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself by Ann Mah I was interested in reading something else by the same author. I found The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah* at my local library.

On the Page

The Lost Vintage reminded me of The Winemaker's Wife by Kristin Harmel. You can read my post about that book: here. Thank goodness I never tire of historical fiction, especially when set in wine country! The Lost Vintage is told in two timelines - present day and World War II - and is set mostly in the Burgundy wine-making region of France. We meet Kate Elliot who is struggling to pass the Master of Wine examination. Her mentor suggests she leave San Francisco and head to her family estate in Burgundy to immerse herself in Burgundian vintages.

"'Your Achilles' heel is always France. And not even all French wine. Just the white,' Jennifer observed a few months ago. ...'If you want to pass the bloody exam, you need to know French wine. And the bottom line is, you don't. It's strange. It's almost like you have something against it'" (pg. 9).

So, off Kate goes. While there she helps her cousin Nico and his wife Heather clear out the cellar where they discover a hidden room. "Here in this hidden space, which had remained untouched for so many years, the air breathed sharp with the persistent edge of mold. Shadows pooled in the corners, and gathered along the walls and below the wine racks, magnifying shapes and sound, faint scratches and scrabbles that hinted a mice, spiders, roaches. ...Even enclosed within glass it bewitched me, this potion lying in fairy-tale slumber, waiting for a spell - the twist of a corkscrew, a breath of air - to make it vibrant once again" (pg. 147).

Along with the cache of expensive wine, they also unearth a diary from Hélène - a woman who shares the family name but is completely unknown to them - and World War II Resistance pamphlets. Inspired by their discovery, Kate begins to dig into her family's history surrounding a great aunt that they didn't know existed. Great Aunt Hélène had been expunged from the family history because she had been labeled as a Nazi collaborator after the war.

I'll leave it at that, well with just a few more comments about what I liked and what I didn't like.

Both of the heroines, in the two periods, are extremely likable. Both storylines are nicely paced, well-written, and grab you immediately. At least they grabbed me. The entire book has threads of mystery, adventure, romance, adventure, and, naturally, lots of wine. It's hard not to love it.

The bad: well, the ending felt abrupt to me and a tiny bit cliché.

But I am happy to turn the other cheek as the positives outweigh the negative in my opinion. Mah shows how the heartache of war can reverberate through the generations, but she also underscores the hope of unearthing truth and history to bolster familial ties to each other and the land from which you come. I really enjoyed this book.

On the Plate

I didn't mention it above, but there is a love story between Kate and Jean-Luc whose family owns the estate that produced the legendary Les Gouttes d'Or - Drops of Gold. There are a few food scenes that stuck in my mind. One was a dinner party that Kate cooks at their family estate. She served individual beef Wellingtons, miniature Éclairs and berry tarts. Then there was a meal Kate shares with Walker - "a trio of poached eggs quivered on the plate before me, nestled atop a puddle of meurette sauce, rich with wine, laced with bacon" (pg. 203).

One scene that had me chuckling was when Jean-Luc surprises Kate at the restaurant in San Francisco where she's working. "'What's green papaya carbonara?'" he asks her.

"'It's a warm salad of slivered green papaya with guanciale and a coddled quail egg - you know what? Skip it.' I lowered my voice. 'The food here is bizarre. Not in a good way'" (pg. 277).

Jean-Luc waits for her shift to end and Kate introduces him to "'Le tay-ko?' I laughed. 'It's a taco.' ...He took another large bite, then chased it with a swallow of beer. 'The California is amazing. You can eat with your hands...you can drink out of the bottle...no one cares! I think I love it here!'" (pg. 280).

Galette de Pomme de Terre
makes one 10" galette

Okay, so I didn't make beef Wellington, green papaya carbonara, or even tacos. I opted to make something that I could envision Jean-Luc packing into a picnic basket while they work the harvest - a galette. And my galette was dictated by what I had in the veggie bin. Galette de Pomme de Terre it was! It begins with Pâte Brisée, a pastry dough/crust that has a rich flavor and a crisp, flaky texture. You definitely want to have a version of this in your culinary wheelhouse; it's ideal for both sweet and savory pies, tarts, and quiches!

Pâte Brisée

  • 2-1/2 C flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1/2 C finely ground blanched almonds or almond flour
  • 1 C butter, very-cold, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 3 to 4 T cold water
  • 3 to 4 T vodka

Filling

  • 1 organic onion, peeled and sliced (I use a mandolin slicer)
  • splash of olive oil + more for drizzling
  • 2 to 3 potatoes, scrubbed and sliced (I use a mandolin slicer)
  • cheese for grating (I used parmesan), approximately 1/2 C but divided
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Procedure

Pâte Brisée
Place the flour, ground almonds, and cold butter the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Alternate between adding cold water and vodka, 1 T at a time, until mixture just begins to clump together. If you squeeze some of the crumbly dough and it holds together, it's ready. If the dough doesn't hold together, add a little more water and pulse again. Note that too much water will make the crust tough. Once the dough comes together into a ball, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before using.


While you're waiting for the dough to chill, make the filling. Place onions in a rimmed skillet with a splash of olive oil. Cook on low heat until the onions are softened and beginning to caramelize. Set aside.

Parboil the potatoes so that they are fork tender, but still holding their shape. Drain and set aside.


To Finish
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out the Pâte Brisée between two pieces of parchment paper. It doesn't need to be perfectly round. In fact, I like the organic edges on my crust. Place on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle 1/4 C of cheese over the crust and spoon the caramelized onions on top of that. Arrange the potatoes over the onions, overlapping them to form a layer.


Bring the edges of the crust up and over the rim of the potatoes. Press down gently on the dough. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top, followed by salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and flaky.


Let cool for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately. Though, if you have leftovers, this is just as good cold the next day.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.

Click to see what everyone else read in February 2020: here.

Comments

  1. The book sounds interesting as does your wonderful galette.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Using up the vegetables on hand is always a noble endeavor. This sounds like a great way to be noble!

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

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