Saturday, February 28, 2009

Buckwheat Galettes

My second time in Paris was for myself alone. I had always dreamt of traveling by myself, but first my parents and then A. would hear none of it, and somehow, it wasn't worth it to make them worry quite so much. Fortunately for me, life had a way of figuring things out, and here I was, presented with an opportunity to run around Paris practically by myself for two whole days. It was brilliant.

I had already covered all the major sights and museums my first time there, so this time around, I just scribbled some markings on a map, took the subway to the Marais, and began walking. I think everyone should have a day like that, when they can just start walking, without regard to time, direction or destination, without being tethered to the cell phone or the blackberry (and also free to stop off at Gérard Mulot in St. Germain and get two, that's right, two pastries, thereby shocking the good sales-women of GM with my gluttony).

I had lunch in a small place on Ile Saint-Louis. The walls were painted red and the predominant language was French, and maybe it was the sunny day, but the waitress even smiled at me a few times and it seemed sincere. When I opened the menu and ordered a 3 course lunch for 10 Euro, I could hardly believe my eyes. I mean, 10 Euro, in Paris. I think my cafe creme and croissant in the morning were more than that. I was prepared to be disappointed. But you know where this story is heading, right? Disappointed I was not -- after all, it was Paris, the city of lights, magic and 10 Euro lunches. I can't say it was the best lunch I've ever had, but it was very decent, and even almost a year later, I can not stop thinking about the buckwheat galette that was my main course. With a runny egg and a sprinkling of cheese and herbs folded into a neat, square envelope, it was just light enough and substantial enough to carry me through until that fateful stop at Gérard Mulot.

It took me a year to replicate the galette, mostly because I couldn't justify buying a bunch of buckwheat flour just for one indulgence. What finally tipped the scales was that I found a small bag of buckwheat hiding in my pantry, ground it up in my food processor, and I was ready to go. Well. Let's just say that I won't make the mistake of waiting another year to do this again! Compared to a regular crepe, the galette is heartier and nubby with delicious little bits of ground buckwheat, and is the perfect sturdy bed on which to rest your egg, ham, spinach, and of course, a sprinkling of cheese and herbs. And, it reminds me of Paris.

Buckwheat galettes
This recipe comes from Clotilde at Chocolate and Zucchini, on of my favorite blogs from Paris. Being French, Clotilde automatically gets the monopoly on crepe and galette making, so I didn't mess with the proportions too much (except to convert to American measurements and decrease the amount of water by a little bit to make it easier to flip) or with any of her instructions (linked above and copied below). This makes quite a large quantity, so I halved the recipe when I was making it for myself. The quantities below are from Clotilde's original recipe. Please visit her website (chances are that you have already), as she is totally, totally awesome.

For the dough :
- 200 g (1.5 cups) buckwheat flour
- 50 g (1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 50 cl (2 cups) milk
- 25 cl (1 cup) water

For the galettes :
- salted butter
- the fillings of your choice

(Makes 12 medium galettes.)

Step 1 : Prepare the dough.

If you have a food processor , break the eggs in the bowl of the food processor. Add the flours, and mix until well blended. Add as much of the milk as your food processor allows and mix again. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and add the remaining milk and the water. Whisk until thoroughly blended.

If you don't have a food processor, put the flour in a large mixing bowl and dig a little well in the center. Break the eggs in the well, and whisk them progressively into the flour in a circular motion. Pour the milk in slowly, whisking all the while. Add the water, still whisking.

In both cases, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and store in the fridge for at least two hours, overnight is best (Irene's note: *cough* I totally didn't, and they were still awesome).

Step 2 : Make the galettes.

Take the bowl of dough out of the fridge and prepare all the fillings beforehand. Whisk the galette dough again, as some of the flour will have settled at the bottom of the bowl.

If you're making several galettes in a row, preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). This is where you'll keep the galettes warm while you make the others.

Heat up a large non-stick skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, put in a sliver of salted butter. When it is melted, but before it browns, use a paper towel to (cautiously) spread the butter evenly on the surface of the skillet. Pour a ladleful of dough (Irene's note: about 1/2 - 3/4 cup per galette) in the skillet, and swoop the skillet around so that the dough spreads out in a nice even circle. Let cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes, peeking underneath with a spatula from time to time to check on the cooking.

Flip the galette when it's nicely golden underneath, cautiously or brazenly depending on your self-assurance. Put the fillings of your choice in the center of the galette. If using an egg, break it cautiously and gently maintain the yolk in the center with the eggshell or your spatula until the white has set enough to hold it in place. When the other side of the galette is nice and golden too, fold it as best you can : the traditional way is to fold the four sides in and make a square galette, but when there's a lot of filling and the galette isn't very big that's a little difficult, so just fold two sides in.

Put the galette in a large baking dish or on a cookie sheet and into the oven to keep warm while you make the others. Serve with a green salad and liberal amounts of Cidre Brut, an alcoholic apple cider from Brittany.


Elyse said...

Oh my goodness. These look AMAZING. Delicate and delicious. I really, really want one right now. I may have to breakdown and get some buckwheat flour.

Anonymous said...

Wow. What a great story, makes me want to pack up and travel the world, first stop Paris, for some delightful buckwheat galettes. Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh Irene! I absolutely love your blog! Beautiful pictures and oh how I love to reminisce about paris too. :-D

Anonymous said...

Some of my most treasured memories are of discovering small neighborhood cafes all over France! I love the idea of this recipe, I'll definitely have to try it out. Beautiful pictures Irene :)

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

I use buckwheat to make crepe and eat them with molasses. That's the way my parents were doing it when I was young. Yours look great.

Eileen said...

I am going to have to make these, Irene, and close my eyes and imagine I'm in Paris. The absolutely best times in Paris are always when I'm left to roam on my own (with the necessary stop at G.M.!) How I wish I were there right now!

Anonymous said...

The buckwheat galette looks yum, Irene! Thanks for visiting my blog and leading me to find your wonderful blog!

Anonymous said...

I haven't been to Paris...but this looks insanely yummy, light & fantastic!

Ash said...

wow! this looks really good!

test it comm said...

This sounds like a nice breakfast!

Hayley said...

I love this. What a fabulous breakfast. Thanks for sharing, I'll be dreaming of Paris.

brandin + kari said...

This reminds me of a restaurant we used to have in Seattle called The Longshoreman's Daughter. The BEST buckwheat pancakes. But, I like galettes because they are lighter.

Shari said...

Ooh, I'd love to run around Paris like you. I think it was worth the wait for these buckwheat galettes. They look so delicious.

Peabody said...

Yum. What a great way to start off the day with this breakfast.

Deeba PAB said...

Just beautiful! I love your blog. It makes me feel so GOOD!!

Anonymous said...

Dearest Irene, everything about your story is yummy, and I so look forward to visiting the little place on Ile St-Louis in a few weeks' time. However, cherie, why did you place a photograph of a tin of *tea bags* in this shrine to good food? Tea bags are so polyester.



Irene said...

Yes, yes, world's smallest violin. Your dedicated blogger give you a galette! I give you Paris! I give you freshly baked bread! I think that's worth bearing with a few tea bags, no? After all, no one is perfect. ;)

Have a wonderful time in Paris, my dear!!!

Anonymous said...

Oh, OK, you have shamed me, ma petite galletiere! I am bringing a piece offering to amend for my scratchy violin playing. The whole "paper towel" business with butter is very complicated, it seems. I would have substituted that for an ages-old and fool-proof blini-frying method. Melt butter in a small sauce pot. Cut a small potato in half. Using a fork, dip the potato (flat side down,duh!) into the melted butter, butter up the hot pan, pour the batter. Let me know if it worked with les gallettes.

And where the hell is the next chappie of "CLF"?


Irene said...

Hehe - to tell you the truth, I didn't think much of the paper towel method either, so I just put a little chunk of cold butter onto the pan and moved it around quickly with my silicone spatula. I've never heard of the potato method, but it's genius!!! True story - I once ruined a pastry brush because the instructions said to *brush* melted butter onto the hot frying pan. Um.........

Tomorrow, tomorrow. It's been one HELL of a week. Gr.

Anonymous said...

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow" to quote the Bard. And pretty soon we are talking about WEEKS, Authoress most Esteemed. What gives :p !


Irene said...

I know, I know, it's coming, seriously. :( I am one flaky author.

Anonymous said...

Only the crust should be flaky, and then - not at all times :))


Anonymous said...

There's a place in Key West called Croissants de France. It's on Duval St. They make great galettes with traditional fillings and they also have a pastry shop where delicious Kouign Amans are sold. I'm going to make galettes with sausages, onions, peppers, potatoes, and feta cheese using your recipe. I like the fact yours has more buckwheat flour than all purpose. I grew up eating buckwheat pancakes as a child with butter and molasses - one of my favorite breakfasts. The batter had yeast in it and would sit in a bowl overnight before making them. There's also a place in St Martin in Marigot that makes good galettes. The combinations for savory fillings, meat or vegetarian, is endless! They're also good for nutella or fruit, too. Thank you for sharing your recipe. We came back from Key West on March 2nd. Perfect timing for your post!

Heidi Leon Monges said...

beautiful, egg buckwheat galettes are my favorites, great recipe and pictures