Last weekend, my boyfriend and I headed to Canyon Country to visit my brother and his girlfriend. The day served as a much needed escape from LA city limits. We spent the afternoon swimming, enjoying some charcuterie, and picking fruit that seemed to fall oh so perfectly from the trees in their backyard.
I’ve been mildly fascinated with the concept of picking fruit from trees since watching an episode of Huell Howser in which he went apple picking in Oak Glen, an area only 60 miles east of Los Angeles. However, as I’m writing this I realize that my romanticized and oddly tactilely pleasing perception of apple picking may have originated earlier than that. I probably watched The Wizard of Oz a hundred times as a child, and as I've gotten older I've realized how many semi-bizarre images have stuck with me from that film. I remember Dorothy's attempt at picking the plastic and polished ruby red apples being met with utter annoyance and resentment. Something about the emotion and tactile nature of the scene always stuck with me. And suddenly, what I can only liken to an acid flashback, I am reminded of the glossy, larger than life greenery of Munchkin Land, the flying monkeys, the horse of a different color that did indeed change colors, and the poppy red of the sand that dripped down from the Wicked Witch’s hourglass.
With all that said, as a woman in her twenties, I’ve always thought about picking fruit- “That! I want to do that!” while simultaneously realizing that I am a cliche and a hashtag basic b and I just want to be happy like everyone else. The duality of self at its utmost. In a dreamworld where everything goes my own way my boyfriend and I would join Huell Howser picking apples, then we’d peel them with that old timer peeling machine that is oh so tactilely pleasing and then we’d make a pie or cider with our apples and I’d eat none and drink none because I don’t really like the flavor of apples.
Needless to say, like most of my daily experiences, this one was loaded with palpable images that seem to be alive and well and richly percolating in my mind for the past 20 years.
And suddenly we are back in Canyon Country and we are picking yellow nectarines. I liked the quiet sound of the fruit breaking away from the tree...a sound from inside...like chewing gum and wondering if the whole world can hear it as loud as you can.
We walked away with 2 bags full of nectarines. Clearly an illustration in human gluttony because neither my boyfriend or I actually ever really eat nectarines. I had no idea what to do with them. So, when I got home I washed them and put them in a pretty bowl and there they stayed for a day.
I finally remembered the nectarines that I had picked so feverishly and with the relish of a child only a few days ago and which now stood in my kitchen. As a semi-lazy and anxiety ridden adult, I looked at this once beautiful bowl of fruit as a citation of my failings. “Do something with them!” I thought, “Quick!”
There’s this girl I met in Austin a few years ago and she sort of serves as a representation of everything I’m not. Like, on my worst day, I am so not her that it results in extreme ennui. She is thin and pretty and she exercises and eats unlike a healthy person but only in small doses and she is social and goes on trips by herself and she is gainfully employed yet still manages to produce creative projects with a sense of integrity that I have yet to accomplish. And so while I don’t dislike her I can say that I am quite jealous of her life portrayed on social media and I can also say that she makes fruit galettes.
Or I thought she did, and I thought that’s where I got my idea to make a nectarine galette until I reviewed her Instagram and realized that she makes a dessert known as a “rugelach” otherwise known as a crescent of dough and filling and I have no conclusive evidence to prove nor disprove as to whether or not she has ever made a galette.
All that aside, the idea for a galette popped into my mind and I knew I had the necessary bare bones ingredients for the sweet dish. Puff pastry, butter, and fruit. Oh, if you didn’t already know, a galette is a term used in French cuisine to designate different types of freeform crusty cakes. So it’s basically poetry or graffiti- it’s, like, totally free and unharnessed by your societal constraints. Anyways, I searched recipes online, heading to my favorite MarthaStewart.com whom I’m aware has such a conception about her. I wouldn’t even call it a misconception but a conception nonetheless. What I will say about Martha, my buddy Martha, is that her recipes are consistently enjoyable and on the easier side of cooking and baking. I also searched Pinterest and found that many recipes called for the addition of sugar which I did not end up using. I felt it was best to attempt my first galette with the purity of a beginner...ingredients: fruit (at least 1 ½ cups worth), puff pastry (I used half a box of sheets), and 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
Directions: First, I de-pitted the nectarines and tossed any of the just too mushy parts. Then I did a rough chop of the fruit and set it aside in a bowl.
Then, I took the previously defrosted puff pastry and began laying them out in a pie pan. Like a Buddhist mandala, I intuitively placed each triangular piece of dough in the pan allowing for a good inch or overhang. Think of it as a rose, with each petal existing just a touch below the other, layering each piece of pastry carefully. I gave each piece of the puff pastry a light brush of butter and finally poured the fruit into the center of the dish. Then, I pulled the overhanging dough into the center of the galette, folding and designing it to be as aesthetically pleasing as possible. If in junior high you ever pretended that you were rockabilly and you tried, repeatedly, to put your hair into a 'Rosie the Riveter' with an old bandana then you probably already know how to pull, stretch, and arrange a galette.
Finally, garnish with some blueberries or fruit of your choosing and bake for 35-40 minutes at 375 degrees.
I enjoyed my nectarine galette with some lite cool whip but even more so, I enjoyed cooking something new and having it turn out yummy. I also enjoy saying galette and telling people that “I made a galette” because I don’t think many people know what a galette is.