Nearly six weeks ago I packed up the rest of our things and made the final move to our new home in Boulder, Colorado. It still feels somewhat odd to be here, like my brain hasn't caught up with my body, like maybe it got lost somewhere out there as I flew over the middle of the country. Maybe it's still stuck driving through the gorgeous rolling green of Iowa; maybe it's still teaching science on the rocky Maine coast; maybe it's still cooking away in our sunny Massachusetts apartment. Anyway, the bits of me that are present here seem to think it hilarious that the move actually happened and that my physical space has changed so drastically. I'll hike to a gorgeous alpine lake or see a prairie dog on a run or watch the sunrise on the Flatirons and I'll roar with laughter. What is this amazing, different place? Is it really my home?
I spend a lot of time thinking about the way we humans are shaped by the land where we live (I did, after all, marry a geographer). As I walk circles around my new city and kick up red dust on new trails, I consider my own geographic identity and wonder about the definition of home. What parts of home do you feel are most important? Is it the physical or built space where you happen to be living? Is it the people you are with? Is it the environmental space - the trees, water, smells, mountains, ecosystems - that surround you? Is it the physical actions or habits - cooking, sleeping, running, drinking coffee from a certain mug in a certain chair - that you perform daily? Of course, I think I need a little bit of all of these things to truly feel at home, but geographic or environmental space seems to hold a little more weight for me these days. That doesn't mean that I can't feel happy (thrilled! ecstatic! overjoyed!) in a new location - it's really more of a burst of gratitude in knowing that my environmental home is still safe and sound in Maine and that I have the time and space and means to put down roots in Colorado.
So, as I work on Settling In, I have come back to this space on the internet after a long stretch away. Between having my kitchen packed in boxes and being too exhausted (er, lazy) at the end of each day, it was a sparse summer for cooking. (Never fear though, the eating was in high gear thanks to the many excellent cooks Nate and I get to call family.) However, when I was inspired in the kitchen, it was because of pastry crust - and I think I baked more pies, galettes, and quiches this summer than I have over the course of my entire life. There were fresh berries, stone fruits, mushrooms, rhubarb, and herbs, and quickly before we admit that fall is really here, I would like to share my favorite savory summery combination yet: burst cherry tomatoes, onions, zucchini, fresh corn, and basil all wrapped up in a thick rye pastry. I'd say it's a solid send off to summer and a giant thank you for a wonderful season of change.
LATE SUMMER GALETTE
For the crust:
¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup rye flour
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. raw sugar
½ cup butter, cold
5 to 8 tablespoons ice water
1 egg, beaten, for the egg wash
For the filling:
1 medium yellow onion, thickly sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 medium zucchini, sliced into half-moons (about 1 ½ cups)
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes
1 ear fresh corn, kernels removed (or about ¾ cups frozen corn)
1 large handful fresh basil, finely minced (about 2 tablespoons)
Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, to taste
To make the crust:
Stir together the flours, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Slice the butter into ½ - inch cubes and cut it into the flour mixture. I like to use my hands here – I’ll rub the butter into the flour between my fingers until the mixture resembles coarse sand with a few pea-sized chunks of butter still visible. If your body tends to run hot, feel free to use a pastry cutter for this process. Work quickly so that the butter doesn’t start to melt – stick the bowl in the freezer for a few minutes if needed, to ensure your mixture is as cold as possible. Add in the ice water, starting with 5 tablespoons and mixing well. If the dough holds together, form it into a ball. Most likely though, you will need to add a few more tablespoons of water to get a consistent dough. Be careful not to over-mix – just gather it up in your hands and form a ball. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, flatten it out into a disc, and refrigerate anywhere from 15 minutes to overnight.
To make the filling:
Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-low flame. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Throw in the zucchini with several big pinches of salt and pepper and cook until it starts to soften, another 5 minutes or so. Add the tomatoes, corn, and basil to the skillet, cover with a lid, and cook until the tomatoes have burst and the veggies are cooked through. Taste for seasonings, adding in more salt, pepper, and some hot pepper flakes (if you like) as needed. Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
To assemble and bake the galette:
Once the filling is at room temperature and the crust is thoroughly chilled, preheat your oven to 425. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the crust into a large circle, about ¼ inch thick. Gently transfer the crust to a baking sheet and mound the filling into the center of the pastry. Carefully fold the edges of the crust up over the filling, pressing the dough firmly to keep the filling from leaking through. Quickly brush the exposed crust with egg wash and then bake the galette until the crust is deep brown, about 35 minutes.