I had an appointment with Friday last Thursday. I’ll explain that in a minute. The appointment was the culmination of a well-earned leap of life and faith. What brought this on? Well, it’s no secret that the past few years have been a tad challenging for me. Rather, it’s quite public knowledge, considering I’ve been yammering about it via cyberspace for nearly a year now. Add in that in a little over seven weeks I’ll turn the corner on 50, and no one could blame a gal for a little self-reflection, a little introspection, and a lot of chocolate. I’d been contemplating making my appointment for a few years now. Observing others who had made theirs became part of my process, wondering what it was like, how it felt, how they came to their decisions, and why. The why was most important for me. Doing this had to mean something. If not, it would be pointless. My actions would be permanent. If you haven’t figured it out yet, my appointment was to get a tattoo. Sure, that’s not such a big deal these days. You can’t walk down a street without witnessing several passing by on arms, legs, and backs, everywhere. I admit, I too have gawked at people who look like graphic novels as I quietly sang “Lydia that Tattooed Lady” in my head. But slowly over the past several years I started to think, “hmm…maybe…” Then I’d snap out of it and tell myself, “oh come ON – it’s SO clique and midlife-crisis to get a tattoo. And there’s no going back once it’s done – you really want that?” Then my thinking, my life changed.
You see, I started to realize that the life altering events I’d been going through over the past 3 years weren’t just something to “get through”. For me, they were a touchstone, a major turning point. They caused a seismic shift in my topography that has left me changed, and I believe for the better. To use an incredibly trite analogy, a door has shut and another opened. Admittedly, to me it often felt more akin to a door slamming on my butt and being shoved out a window, but you get the picture. And the idea of creating something on my body to illustrate my journey and inspire me forward became real. I wanted my chosen permanent marking to be a physical reminder that I had made it through to the other side better than before. Sure I still had battles ahead, but I wanted to see, to touch my ‘badge of honor’ and know that the storm was worth it. An awful lot for a little mark to represent, huh? So I started searching for the right one and I found it. Or rather, it found me. And two weeks ago I had my Thursday appointment, with Friday.
Friday Jones (http://www.fridayjones.net) is a warm, genuine woman whose infectious excitement and joy fills her studio. She’s also the incredibly talented artist who presented me with my emblem of transformation, in a room filled with palpable serenity. Did it hurt? No. Was I scared? No. Do I love it? Absolutely, without a moment of hesitation or regret. And from this day forward if I find myself filled with fear or doubt, all I need do is reach over and gently touch the small carnelian-colored open lotus on the inside of my right arm and acknowledge the infinite potential, new beginnings and positive thought it ushers into my life. A just reminder of battles well fought, and won.
To go with a tattoo symbolizing endless possibility, how about a pastry dough with infinite potential? This Almond Galette Dough recipe is simple yet elegant (to match my new tattoo) and can adapt to just about any summer fruit or veg wonderfulness you find at the farmer’s market or roadside stand.
Galette is a French term that basically means rustic tart. This galette dough is easy to make for a tart today or stow in the freezer for later. Best of all, you don’t need a pie dish, or a top, or snazzy crimping skills. Just roll it out into a rough circle, fill, and fold. The result is a rich yet thin crisp crust that could go equally well with fruit or savory fillings. And you don’t even need a fork to eat! You could easily fill this with a thin layer of goat cheese and top with thin sliced tomatoes and basil, or go sweet with berries, peaches or even apples and pears. But when you macerate strawberries with sugar and a little balsamic vinegar, and top with sliced almonds it’s pure heaven!
Almond Galette Dough
Makes enough for two 8-9” galettes
- 3 TBSP sour cream
- 1/3 cup ice water
- 1 cup flour (+1-2 TBSP depending on how damp the day is)
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- ½ tsp salt
- 6 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
- 2 TBSP cold almond paste, cut into 5-6 pieces
- 1 TBSP lemon zest
- 1 tsp sugar in the raw for sprinkling
Stir the sour cream and ice water together in a small bowl; set aside. Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in the work bowl of a processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine. Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter that vary in size from breadcrumbs to peas. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough comes together. Remove the dough from the processor, divide it in half, and press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours (or freeze for up to a month.)
Balsamic Strawberries Almond Galette
For One Galette, serves 4
- ½ Almond Galette Dough recipe (one disk of dough from the two you just made)
- 12 ounces strawberries, sliced to ¼” thick (about 2 cups total)
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 2 tsp balsamic vinegar (if you have the good stuff, use it here)
- ½ tsp lemon zest
- teeny pinch salt (salt actually brings out the sweetness, go figure)
- 1 oz (about a ¼ cup) sliced almonds
- 1 tsp minute tapioca
- 1-2 tsp sliced almonds for sprinkling on tart
Add the strawberries, sugar, pinch of salt and 1 tsp balsamic vinegar together (reserve the other for making the syrup); toss well and let macerate for about 45 minutes, mixing once or twice during that time.
In a food processor, grind the almonds and tapioca to a relatively fine powder. You’ll use this mixture to put under the strawberries or other fruit to thicken the baking juices so the tart bottom stays crisp. (I keep any extra almond tapioca powder in a jar in my cabinet for pies and tarts all summer long.)
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When the strawberries are ready, lightly flour your work surface and roll out the disk of galette dough into a rough circle about 11” wide and 1/8 inch thick, moving it around to make sure it doesn’t stick. Roll up the dough around your rolling pin and transfer it to baking sheet.
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of the ground almond-tapioca mixture over the center of the dough, leaving a 2-3” border. Arrange the strawberry slices in concentric circles over the ground almonds, overlapping the berries as you go. Try to get as little of the juices on the dough as possible – you’ll use them later to make a syrup. Sprinkle with a few slivered almonds. Fold the border of dough up over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you work your way around the galette. Because you’re folding a wide edge of dough onto a smaller part of the circle, it will pleat naturally–just go with it. This is meant to be rustic. Dip a pastry brush in water, lightly brush crust, and then sprinkle with the teaspoon of sugar. (I like to use sugar in the raw for this – it gives a nice crunch when baked.) Bake the galette for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Slide the parchment paper to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the paper for 5 minutes. Slip a spatula under and remove the tart from the paper.
As the galette cools, pour the juices from the berries into a microwavable bowl. Add the reserved teaspoon of balsamic vinegar and heat about 4-5 minutes on high at 1-minute intervals and stirring in between. Spoon the syrup over the berries on the tart. Let cool for another 5 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature. The galette is best eaten the day it is made. Calories: 260 per serving (4 servings)