We're not picky eaters or fussy cooks around here. Simple recipes using good—preferably organic and locally grown—ingredients that don't take a lot of time to prepare are the ones we go back to again and again. Recipes by celebrity chefs are usually avoided, since they tend to be far too complicated and ego-driven ("Hey, watch me do a back-flip while I sauté these onions!") to make it onto our roster, plus we've found they are often not carefully tested for home cooks who may not have the equipment found in professional kitchens.
There are a few old-time chefs whose recipes I know I can depend on to be a success, like those from Julia Child, James Beard and Jacques Pépin. Pépin has been making a regular appearance in our kitchen lately, since Dave has been volunteering to make dessert when company comes or when there's a gathering that warrants a little something post-feast.
Pépin's apple galette, from his book Heart and Soul in the Kitchen, is a stunningly simple feat, with a processor pastry crust that comes out of the oven a masterpiece of flaky crispness, and a filling that's just chopped and sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and drizzled with honey.
Light and lovely, with a charmingly rustic look—what can I say but, "Parfait! Et merci, Jacques!'
Rustic Apple Galette
Adapted from Heart and Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin
For the pastry:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 c. ice water
For the filling:
4 apples (tart and flavorful heritage apples work well)
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. honey, preferably wildflower
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 400°.
In a food processor, combine the flour with the sugar, salt and butter and process for about 5 seconds. Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture and process until the pastry just begins to come together, about 10 seconds; you should still be able to see small pieces of butter in it. Transfer the pastry to a work surface, gather it together and pat into a disk. Wrap the pastry in plastic or wax paper and refrigerate until chilled, about one hour. (You can also roll out the pastry and use it right away or make it ahead and refrigerate overnight.)
Peel, halve and core the apples and slice them crosswise 1/4" thick. Set aside the larger center slices and coarsely chop the end slices and any broken ones; about half of the slices should be chopped. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a 12" by 14" rectangle and transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the chopped apples over the pastry to within 1" of the edge. Drizzle the honey over the chopped apples. Decoratively arrange the apple slices on top in concentric circles or in slightly overlapping rows. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar evenly over the apples and dot with the pieces of butter. Fold the pastry edge up and over the apples to create a 1-inch border.
Bake the galette for about 1 hour, until the pastry is nicely browned and crisp and all of the apples are tender. Transfer the pan to a rack and let the galette cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.