on pear galettes and worrying

Last weekend, Jordan and I cooked a special dinner together. It was our standard birthday/anniversary/Valentine’s day meal—a beautiful steak, buttery potatoes, a good bottle of wine. We have it just a few time a year and it’s wonderful every time.

I remember the steak dinner that started this tradition, I think it was our third anniversary.  Jordan cooked at his parents’ house. I was on break from college. He made steak au poivre, roasted fingerling potatoes, beet salad and a dark chocolate souffle. I still have the menu he typed up for the occasion. (Can we just pause for a second an appreciate that he typed a menu for the occasion, adorable.) The meal has been a constant of our relationship ever since.

Now that a few years have passed, we’ve worked out all the kinks. Jordan handles the steak, usually simply grilled and finished with butter. I make the sides and dessert. Dessert is the only part of the menu that changes and this weekend I decided to make a pear galette.

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So it was Saturday afternoon and I was standing in my kitchen making the galette. Now, those of of you who know me well, know that the type of experience I’m about to tell you about doesn’t really happen to me. I’m pretty solidly grounded, and frankly, if this happened to you and you told me about it, I’d probably think it was a little new-agey and nuts. Now putting all that aside, as I stood there slicing the pears for my galette, I was transported. For just a few minutes, I felt like the person I’m meant to become. She was calm and confident and capable. I folded the dough up around the pears and I knew in this very concrete way that everything is going to be alright.

It’s been an especially anxious year, full of lots of worrying on my part about big things and small (but mostly big, if we’re honest).  And so it was such a relief to just know that everything is going to be ok, that I’m going to be ok. Knowing that this happier, calmer version of myself is out there and that I’ll get there some day—even if it isn’t today or tomorrow or this year—put me at peace in a way nothing else has. I’ve tried to reason myself into feeling this way for months, but it took this unexpected, out of body experience to actually get the message across. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely, I have a pear galette to thank for that.

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As for the pear galette, it was divine. Comice pears are perfect for pie—the texture can stand up to baking and they don’t get too sweet. The galette has just enough spice to accent the flavor of the pear, but doesn’t overpower it. I’d recommend you hurry and make your own before comice pears are done for the season.

Comice Pear Galette, with inspiration from Lindsay Shere, a longtime pastry chef of Chez Panisse
For the crust (makes two)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
about 5 tablespoons ice water

For the galette
3 comice pears, peeled and sliced thin
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
sugar for dusting

In a food processor, combine flour and salt. Remove the butter from the fridge and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add them to the flour mixture. Process until the butter chunks are about the size of peas. Add the water and pulse a few times to combine. Divide into two equal balls, flatten into 1″ thick discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight.

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Preheat your oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Peel the pears and slice them into thin slices. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar and spices. Dust a surface with flour and roll out the dough until it is about 1/4 inch thick. In the center of the dough, sprinkle the flour mixture. Arrange the pear slices in a mound on top of the flour mixture. Fold the dough up around the filling. Brush the dough with water and sprinkle with a heavy dusting of sugar.

Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and back for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until browned and bubbly in the center. You can also form the galette, cover in plastic wrap and return it to the fridge until you want to bake it.

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I like to serve mine warm with ice cream and usually put it into the oven as we’re sitting down to dinner. It’s also really good for breakfast. Just say you need to take a good photo for your blog. Enjoy!

-Emily

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