February 19, 2010
Happy New Year!
The 14th was Chinese New Year, which means extensive preparation and a whole lot of food. I’m not gona lie, I didn’t end up getting super into it this year, but what generally does need to happen in preparation is a cleaning of the house, a haircut (these must be done BEFORE the date), new clothes purchased for New Year’s day, filling the house with fresh fruit, cherry blossoms, flowers, candies, cakes, and chinese sweets. The day of, my mom and I usually go to the Chinese temple, no washing of the hair is allowed (don’t wash away the bad luck!), no fighting or none of anything you wouldn’t want to stick with you for the new year; New Year’s day is a reflection of the entire year.
In all honesty I didn’t even see my parents the day of Chinese new year. New Years Eve we went out to a profuse 10 course traditional dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in China Town San Francisco. Among my all time favorites, Egg white and dried scallop fried rice, Hong Kong style pan-fried noodles, and steamed whole green onion Ling Cod. Holy crap I ate a lot; what made matters worse was the surprise birthday dinner I had to attend for my friend at an Italian restaurant in North Beach. Ugg…. don’t judge me for having a piece of cake at the party.
Fast forward to the next morning; Chinese New Year day, oh yea it was also Valentine’s day too (:/) Luckily I was already with my single girlfriends. We wanted a retreat, and conveniently the birthday girl has a ranch in Healdsburg (in the country about 1 1/2 hours from the city) which we decided to drive up to.
What can I say about this place? Idyllic and picturesque. The kitchen looks as though it was taken out of pottery barn magazine, I was so excited to jump in there and get to use it. Surrounded by vineyards, a white wrap around porch and a Kelly green, grassy lawn every moment spent there is a calm satisfaction I could only relish in.
My friends and I were fortunate to have the house to ourselves. We aimlessly explored the property, took the golf-cart out for a spin, and I took photos on my camera. Later, we went to the local market where we sampled more cheese than should have been allowed for free and came back with fresh chicken and vegetables for grilling, salad materials, and ripe peaches and nectarines for a galette.
The weather was perfect; bright, sunny and warm. I was wearing my shorts mid-February. Sunlight streamed through the windows and filled the kitchen with a warm glow while I began to prepare my fruit galette. I felt right at home in the classically charming kitchen. I breathed in what felt so much like summer. I was inspired to make this because 1) the house conveniently had pie crust in the fridge 2) It’s the simplest of all desserts 3) I didn’t need a recipe 4) It felt right; the day reminded me so much of summer and I wanted something light, delicious, homemade and rustic; just like the ranch.
I didn’t use a recipe for this galette, they are so simple and I have made them several times. I had a pre-made pie crust in the fridge. Typically I would have used cornstarch but since I had none I added a small handful of flour, shook a few tablespoons of tapioca into the mixture (I wanted to try it because it was on hand), a squeeze of lemon, and about 1/3 cup of sugar ( if any)
Step by step tutorial:
I sliced two ripe peaches and one ripe nectarine
next, I added a small handful of flour, sugar, and a bit of tapioca ( just because I had it on hand)
important that you squeeze a half of a lemon into the mixture; it brings out the bright fruity flavor; even better if you add a teaspoon of zest.
now mix gently with hands…
and pour out onto your 10 inch diameter rolled, round pie crust
Neatly place in the center with a 1 inch border. I like to make sure they look somewhat organized, but don’t worry this is supposed to be homemade and rustic looking!
now fold the crust over, I dotted the top with just a bit of butter and brushed a little on the crust. What you really want to do is make an egg wash for the crust using 1 egg and a few tablespoons of cream, however I had none of these. It gives the crust a gorgeous golden brown color.
Now place in the center of a 350 F degree oven. You want to bake this for about 20 minutes, until the juices are bubbling in the center and the crust is puffy and brown. Don’t become worried if the fruit looks really dried out about 15 minutes in, give the juices some time!
My friend had been preparing the bbq pit and the chicken had been marinating while I made dessert….
time to get cookin!
I found this marinade in the pantry. I think it is supposed to be for fajitas. It was delicious and we continued to brush the chicken with it as it grilled as well as some good old bbq sauce.
A lot of my friends are picky eaters. Not me. Well something exciting is that I got them to eat my grilled onions and squash, they couldn’t resist; they’re that good.
I’m getting hungry… dinner’s almost ready
The sun began to set as we plated the food and sat down to dinner. I couldn’t think of a more perfect Valentine’s date then good food, drink and my best friends 🙂
I also whipped up a simply delicious caprese salad sans basil + cornichons+green olives
the chicken was so perfectly moist, with a crispy, crusty skin
I learned how to make pizza through my internship…. maybe next time I’ll give this baby a whirl.
And what can I say about these ladies… other than, well I’m kind of obsessed.