Juicy seasonal tomatoes, baked to perfection on a cheesy, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth pastry bed
I decided to grow tomatoes like most people around the glob this year of 2020. It is not just due to COVID or the lock down, but I have always wanted to grow. I didn’t get a chance to grow anything in our own spacious back yard back in Melbourne, because we decided to relocate in the US just after 2 years of moving in out very first home. So instead of complaining and wincing about not having a backyard to grow my own vegetables, I decided to make the most out of our small balcony in this apartment.
I ordered myself some pots, a few bags of potting mix and started growing, just like that. Last years attempt was a complete failure due to my lack of knowledge with regard to gardening in the Pacific North West. But this time, I did some research and was a little more prepared. I planted a whole bunch tomatoes, Thai chilies and herbs in the early spring and use them in my cooking and baking now. It does feel very rewarding.
As some of you may have already seen on Instagram that I had way too many tomatoes, which is exiting and I had to come up with different creative ways to use them up. I did put them in focaccia, on toast, in salads and have also made a few jars of chutney at this point. This galette here is another thing I used my tomatoes in. I remembered, that I had developed a cheesy, savory pastry dough a few years back when I was still in bakery school. So I pulled my old recipes out and used that crumbly, buttery pastry to make this Galette. I cant believe I didn’t put it on the blog sooner!
You can totally make this galette with any other pastry recipe you already have or even store-bought (buttery)pastry works fine. However, I will show step by step pictures of how I make my savory pastry dough, as a bonus! This pastry can also be used as a pie base or to make tarts, quiches too. I used this as the base in my individual chicken pies which is then covered with homemade puff.
Measure the flour, grated Parmesan and salt into a mixing bowl and add the cut up cold butter pieces. Start mixing/cutting the butter with flour using your fingers. Break butter into smaller pieces while mixing with flour.
Add the water and the vinegar and using a spatula start mixing the dough with your spatula turned vertical ( 90 degree angle) as shown in the picture. Or you can use a pastry cutter or dough blender for this. This will make sure the dough is mixed without working the gluten in the flour.
The dough will start to look something like a flaky, bread crumbs with chucks of butter and floury clumps here and there. Bring the dough on to a floured surface and follow the steps in the next two pictures to bring it together into a block.
What we are trying to do is, bringing the dough together without kneading. Use your palms to press the loose crumbs together and then use a dough scraper to lift and fold the dough. Flatten it and fold again. Repeat this a few more times until dough start to take shape and finally start to stick together.
When the dough is stable enough, use a rolling pinto flatten it and then fold back in. Roll and fold back in, repeat this until a firmer dough is developed. If you feel like butter is melting too fast, just place the dough on a tray and refrigerate for 10 minutes and then continue.
When you get to a point where the dough retains it’s shape and holds without falling apart, stop folding and roll out to a thick block. You will see pieces of butter scattered, which is exactly what we want. This pastry now needs to relax.
Wrap the pastry block and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I usually give 2 hours. You can also make this a day or two ahead and keep in the refrigerator until needed.
While pastry is chilling, we can prepare tomatoes and cook the onions.
Cut the tomatoes to the desired size and mix with a teaspoon of salt and set aside for about an hour. This will extract a lot of water out of the tomato.
Thinly slice half a big onion (Red or white) and chop a clove of garlic.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a big pan and add the onions, garlic, a pinch of cinnamon, 1/2 tsp sugar, a pinch of salt and sautee/ fry on medium heat until onions turn dark brown (caramelized) Make sure to stir to stop burning or catching the bottom. Leave to cool completely. (this can be made ahead too)
Mix the cream cheese with mustard and set aside. If you don’t have or don’t like cream cheese, use mustard only. You can also use grated cheddar or any hard cheese too.
Using peppers is optional, but it adds flavor and a bit of heat. I like to use hot peppers. But you can use any pepper you like. Banana peppers, Serrano peppers or even jalapeno works beautifully. Remove the seeds to take away some of the heat. Slice thinly and set aside.
I use Thyme and a bit of Rosemary. Use your favorite herb.
Drain the excess water collected at the bottom and lay the tomatoes on a clean, dry (absorbent) tea towel or a piece of kitchen paper towel. This will absorb any excess moisture left, which will help tomatoes to roast beautifully without making your pastry bottom go all soggy.
If your chilled pastry is too hard to troll out, let it thaw for about 15 minutes (until it just start to go soft). Pastry should still be cold to the touch but malleable. Place the pastry block on a generously floured surface and start rolling. Use flour frequently to stop dough sticking to the rolling pin. After every stoke, rotate the dough. Lift the dough and flour the bench often. Roll out to about 2-3 mm thickness.
Tip: If you think you might not be able to lift it once rolled out, you can place the semi-rolled-out dough on the parchment and continue to roll out to the desired thickness and then transfer the parchment onto the tray.
Transfer the rolled out dough to a tray lined with parchment.
Again if the dough is sticky or loose, place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes
Preheat the oven to 400 °F (200 °C)
Spread the cheese + mustard mixture or just mustard, if you are skipping cheese. Leave about an inch from the edges.
( if you use cheddar instead of cream cheese scatter a handful or two on the mustard) Scatter some chopped up herbs
The cream cheese and mustard mix, when baked, gives a hard boiled egg yolk type of texture
Scatter the caramelized onions. Arrange tomato slices in a single layer. Toss peppers in a splash of olive oil and spread on top of the onions. Sprinkle with more roughly chopped herbs and some freshly ground pepper.
Fold the edges of the pastry. There is no particular way to do it, just fold and overlap. We just want to create a nest to contain the beautiful filling.
Egg wash the edge (rim) all around and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (use black or white or skip sesame altogether if you don’t like them)
At this stage if the pastry had gone too soft, place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes
Bake in the preheated oven for about 40 – 50 minutes, until the pastry is deep golden brown and cooked through.
Once out, add fresh herbs or more cheese on top!
Leave to cool on a wire rack and server warm!