Monday, June 27, 2022

Strawberry-Nectarine Galette with Raine

The tree of us visited the Pacific Coast Air Museum near the Shultz Airport in Santa Rosa. We took Fulton towards home, but did a few errands. We stopped at the farm stand on Hwy 12, just west of Llano Rd. outside of Sebastopol for some freshly picked strawberries. There is often a line because lots of locals know that these are some of the best strawberries anywhere. They are grown just up the drive and over the hill in the land that gets richness from seasonal flooding some years. They must throw in some magic, too, because they are juicy and ripe and so fragrant, plus sweet enough that you don't need to add any sugar...which is what we did with this freeform pie.

Raine took off the greenery at the stem end and then quartered the berries while I cut the nectarines into slices and then pieces to roughly match the size of the berries. After that it's really easy.

We put a baking stone in the oven and started the oven pre-heating to 425 degrees F. If you don't have a baking stone, you could try and upside down cast iron skillet or just put in an upside down sheet pan. The reason for the upside down instructions is that we are going to slide the galette sitting on parchment paper into the oven, so we can't have any sides of pans sticking up getting in the way.

Next we cut some parchment to roughly a square, about  12" wide and long. Some pre-rolled pie dough from the refrigerator case in the market (I use Pillsbury ReadyCrust) had been sitting out of the fridge long enough to soften. It was a simple matter to roll it out onto the parchment, use a rolling pin to flatten it about another inch all around to about 10.5-11 inches in diameter.

Next we took the prepared fruit and added a teaspoon lemon zest and a tablespoon all-purpose flour, then used clean hands to mix it gently into the fruit. When you want to do gentle but thorough mixing, clean hands are your best tool!

Raine poured the floured and flavored fruit into the center of the dough round. He left about 2.5-3 inches bare around the outer edges and mounded the fruit in that center area. Then he pleated the edge dough up and over the mounded fruit filling all around.

Time for getting this beauty into the oven! I have a long-handled bread baking peel so I used that to transfer the pie laden parchment from the counter onto the hot baking stone. We set the timer for 10 minutes. After that 10 minutes when the hot oven was crisping the bottom and starting to cook the dough, we turned it down to 350 degrees F and baked it another 20-25 minutes...I confess I didn't time it, but took it out when the top was browned and the filling was the crust and sprung a leak and I needed to get it out before any more juice headed to the oven bottom! With fresh fruit it's hard to know how much flour to add to thicken up the juices...should have used 2 tablespoons!

It made a beautiful rustic pie and it was so delicious. No sugar was was plenty sweet from the ripe fruit.

Strawberry-Nectarine Galette

Serves 4-6

1/2 box ReadyCrust pie dough (1 round), at room temperature
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in quarters
2 nectarines, washed, sliced, pit removed, and cut into smaller pieces (to match the strawberry sizes)
1 teaspoon lemon zest (from about 1/2 a lemon)
1-2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
sugar if needed...if your fruit isn't ripe add a tablespoon or so
parchment paper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. If possible add a baking stone, pizza stone, upside down cast iron skillet (12" diameter), or upside down baking sheet.

Place a parchment paper square, about 12 inches wide and long, on a baking peel or on the counter.

Roll the pie dough out onto the center of the parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to increase the size all around so that it becomes about 10.5-11 inches in diameter.

In a large bowl combine the prepared strawberries, prepared nectarines, lemon zest, flour, and sugar if using. Use clean hands to gently but thoroughly mix the ingredients together for the filling.

Pour the filling into the center of the prepared dough circle. Mound in the center, leaving about 2.5-3 inches along the outside edge with no filling. Fold that outer edge of dough up and over the mounded filling, pleating as needed, until all around had had the dough folded over the filling.

Use the peel, or an upside-down baking sheet, to transfer the parchment and galette to the oven, sliding the parchment onto the baking stone/skillet/baking pan already in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 350 degrees F. Bake for another 20-25 minutes, until filling is bubbly and crust is browned.

Remove to a cooling rack and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. The filling will be firmer and less drippy as it cools. In our photo we hadn't even waited the 10 minutes, so it was messy...but delicious!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Three Weeks Later ...

At the very beginning of June I posted with photos of my just-planted veggies...two kinds of zucchini and one tomato.

 It's been three weeks of mostly very hot weather. Sweetie hooked up the drip irrigation before I planted so they are getting a bit of water each day. Between the heat, water and the fact that I planted them in fresh potting soil, they are doing really well. Have seen a couple of flowers on the zucchini and the tomato looks ready to flower any time. I'll bet that I have zucchini to go on the grill before we hit another three weeks! The tomatoes will take longer, but they are usually well worth the wait.

The daisy plant got bigger and bloomed, too. Soon we will have lots of lilies. More photos then. Happy Summer! (It was official a couple of days ago.) 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Gooseberry Tart

When I was watching the first season of Bridgerton and Lady Bridgerton was tempting the Duke to come to dinner so that he could get to know her eligible daughter Daphne, I remember that she said that her cook was well known for her excellent gooseberry pie, knowing that the Duke love a good gooseberry pie. That's what came to mind last week when my brother-in-law surprised me by telling me that I had gooseberries and that they were ready to be picked.

The gooseberry shrub was the result of a neighbor giving me a cutting. I planted it in a wine half-barrel a few years ago, watered it regularly and watched it grow, but I couldn't remember the name of the plant. Last year we had a few flowers which turned into berries. I tried one but it was tart and had seeds, even when soft and reddish. There were too few to do anything with, so I promptly forgot about the berries.

This year the crop was much better. After Mark let me know what I had, I decided to make a gooseberry pie for Sweetie for Father's Day. After picking almost all the berries, I realized that he was going to get something smaller than a pie...perhaps hand pies or maybe a tart.

I suspect that one of the reasons I don't remember seeing gooseberries in the market is that they are very time consuming to prepare. When picking them I found that they usually didn't come off the shrub easily like other berries do when ripe, so even the picking took more time than I had thought. Then each berry has to be handled again as you 'top and tail' them, which means that you remove the shriveled flower on one end and any remaining stem on the other end. It takes hundreds of the berries to make a pint. I ended up with a bit less than a pint, so I adjusted the recipe I found online to accommodate the smaller amount and found a smaller tart pan, too.

For the tart shell I used some ready-made pie dough, as I often do. I fit it into the tart pan, pressing the dough to the sides of the pan, then I folded the excess over so that it touched the bottom of the pan, and pressed that to the sides as well. This way you have a single crust on the bottom, which bakes quickly, and a double layer on the walls of the shell, which gives stability. I used a rolling pin the flatten the top and knock off any excess that was higher than the pan sides. This 'leftover' dough was used to create the thin pastry decorations on the top after the filling went in.

For the filling, you take the prepared gooseberries, sugar, and a small amount of water and simmer, then add butter, simmer a bit more, then add the flour and egg yolk and stir over low heat until the mixture thickens a bit, like pudding. I tasted the filling and found it too sweet, so I added a tablespoon on fresh lemon juice. That made it just the right amount of sweet and tart! Once I took the filling off the heat, I put a layer of plastic wrap directly on the filling to avoid a skin forming while the mixture cooled.

After the mixture cooled I poured it into the prepared tart shell and then added the pastry decor. A bit of egg white brushed on the decor and around the edges of the tart browned up nicely during cooking.

The tart gets baked briefly at 425 degrees F and then for a longer period at 35 degrees F. Once the crust is browned and the filling starts to bubble, it's ready to come out and cooled on a wire rack to room temperature.

Sweetie really loved this tart...he even had a piece for breakfast!

The recipes I read online seemed to indicate that you can find canned and frozen gooseberries. I've never seen either for sale, but if you find them,  or if your find these at the farmer's market, do try this. It makes a delightful tart and it's quite pretty, too.

Gooseberry Pie
recipe from Blackberry Girl blog,

 adapted by me and made into a tart


·         3/4 pint gooseberries

·         ¼ cup water

·         1 cup sugar (but I would use less...probably 2/3 cup)

·         1 tablespoon butter

·         tablespoons flour

·         1 egg yolk

·         1 tablespoon lemon juice if needed for tartness (optional)

·         1 6-inch prepared tart shell (see below)

Pie crust topping

·         1 egg white


1.      In a small saucepan, add gooseberries and water. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Drain off 1-2 tablespoos of the excess water, then return to the burner.

2.      Add the sugar, butter and flour, continue to simmer.

3.      Beat egg yolk and pour slowly into saucepan. Cook on medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of filling to prevent a skin from forming.

4.      Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

5.      Let filling cool to barely warm.

6.      Pour filling into pre-made tart crust.

7.      Top with thin lattice strips from another pie crust circle, or re-use leftover pieces from first crust for create minimalist topping.

8.      Brush the tart crust edges and any decorations or lattice with egg whites.

9.      Place tart on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake an additional 15-20 minutes. Tart is done when edges are browned and tart filling bubbles some.

10.  Remove to a wire rack and cool until room temperature. Serve at room temperature. Store leftovers, covered, in the fridge.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Babes Steam Buns (with Fillings)

It's the 16th of the month...just barely...which is traditionally the day that the bodacious Bread Baking Babes, of which I am one, post the bread of the month. This month Judy of Judy's Gross Eats challenged us to make steamed yeasted buns...with or without fillings.

I chose to fill my buns with bbq pork since we had some left over pulled pork shoulder and that flavor has always been my favorite for this little bread (don't they look delicious?). We used to have them as part of a dim sum lunch when we lived in Berkeley. The Oakland China town area had several very good dim sum restaurants and I had a friend who worked in downtown Oakland for Kaiser, which wasn't too far away. These delicious fluffy buns bring back memories of good times with Sweetie, with my friend and with other friends and family.

Although I'm posting at the last minute practically, these buns are fairly quick to make. I started mine about noon and was sitting down with Sweetie enjoying the first batch out of the steamer at about 4:15. If you start earlier in the day you could have them for lunch. Another plus, especially in the summer, is that making these doesn't heat up the kitchen like oven baking does.

We were asked to roll out each of the 12 dough balls and then pleat them after adding the filling. I did this once and then gave up on it.  Although I admire people (like my talented daughter) who enjoy this kind of repetitive baking, it's really not my thing. I streamlined production by making a dough ball, flattening it a bit in my hand, with a fairly thick rim of dough,

adding the filling, 

then pulling the dough by the rim over the filling, going around the ball, until all had been covered and the dough pinched together.

Then I set the pinched side down on the parchment square. 

Probably not as pretty, but they looked round and shiny and tasted just as good.

It really helps to have a steamer for this recipe. I had a double stacked bamboo one, with a lid. I started with my wok, added water, set it to boil, turned it down to simmer, then set the filled bamboo steamer in the wok to steam for 10 minutes. Then I turned off the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. That worked well. I was able to fit three buns in each level. the remaining 6 buns were kept in the fridge, lightly covered with oiled plastic wrap, until it was their turn in the steamer.

I encourage you to try this recipe. Judy has given us a wide range of suggested fillings, including custard! You can also just steam the plain balls. Sweetie liked the plain part of the bun, which was soft and fluffy and had a nice plain bread flavor. I liked dipping mine in soy sauce.

If you do make these and want to be a Buddy, just e-mail Judy with your URL, a photo and a short description of your bake. She'll send you a Buddy badge and will feature you in the round-up. Deadline to get your e-mail to her is June 29th.

Also be sure to visit the blogs of the other Bread Baking Babes to see how they did this month's steamy buns!

Fluffy Steamed Buns with Filling or without Filling

Makes 12


300 g all-purpose flour

50 g sugar

1 tsp instant yeast

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp coarse salt

160 g warm water (about 110˚F)

Oil for greasing bowl

Place dry ingredients into a bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine.  Attach a dough hook, and, with the mixer on low, pour in the warm water and mix to form a shaggy dough.  Knead at medium-high speed about 8-9 minutes until the dough is very smooth and slightly tacky.  Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a smooth ball.  Place into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proof in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight.

Once the dough has proofed, deflate the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Form into a smooth ball.

Unstuffed buns:

Cut 12 4-inch squares of parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, form each into a smooth ball, and place on a square of parchment paper.

Cover the buns with either a damp towel or lightly greased plastic wrap, and let them proof until they are about 1 ½ times larger, about 30-45 minutes.

Set up a steamer, bring water to a simmer, and arrange the buns on the steamer basket, about 2” apart. (If you have to work in batches, keep the remaining buns in the refrigerator to keep them from over-proofing.)  Steam over the simmering water for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, and leave the buns in the covered steamer for 5 more minutes to prevent them from collapsing.  Remove the buns and let them cool slightly before serving.

Stuffed buns:

Cut 12 4-inch squares of parchment paper.

Divide the dough into 12 equal portions, and form each into a smooth ball.  Roll each ball into a 4” circle, making sure the edges are thinner than the middle.  Fill with the desired filling and pleat the edges closed.  Place on a square of parchment paper, either pleat side up or pleat side down.

Place the buns on a baking sheet or cutting board, and cover with either a damp towel or lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to proof in a warm spot, until they are about 1 ½ times larger, about 30-45 minutes.

Set up a steamer, bring water to a simmer, and arrange the buns on the steamer basket, about 2” apart. (If you have to work in batches, keep the remaining buns in the refrigerator to keep them from over-proofing.)  Steam over the simmering water for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat, and leave the buns in the covered steamer for 5 more minutes to prevent them from collapsing.  Remove the buns and let them cool slightly before serving.

Dough flavor variations:

Matcha dough:  Add 7 g food-grade matcha powder to the dry ingredients.

Spinach dough:  Puree 3 cups of spinach leaves with ¾ cup warm water.  Strain the puree through a sieve, keeping the water and discarding the pulp.  There should be about 160 g of warm spinach water.

Sweet Potato dough:  Reduce the warm water to 113 g, and add 120 g of sweet potato puree along with the dry ingredients.

Whole Wheat dough:  Reduce all-purpose flour to 225 g, and add 75 g of whole wheat flour.


Possible fillings:

Red bean paste

Black sesame paste

Char Siu, or BBQ pork

Chicken and vegetables (chopped rather finely)


Minced, cooked mushrooms, sautéed with onions and seasoned with soy sauce, salt, and pepper

Egg custard

Egg Custard Filling:

2 large eggs

65g sugar

20g cornstarch

150g heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

In a small saucepan, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth.  In a measuring cup, whisk together the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt.  Whisk the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients until smooth, then place over medium-low heat, whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.  It’s ready when it coats the back of a spoon.  Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover the surface with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least two hours or overnight.  It should have a scoopable texture.


If you have a bamboo steamer, go ahead and use it, placing it above the simmering water in a metal pot.  Place squares of parchment, or cabbage leaves, on the surface so the buns don’t stick to the steamer.  If you don’t have a bamboo steamer, you can use steamer inserts that come with some pots, or create a steam environment with a steamer and a wok, or with a pot that’s slightly bigger than the steamer.  Remember to create that non-stick surface (parchment paper works well) so the steamed buns don’t stick!

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Into The Garden for 2022

 Periodically I do a post about my garden. This year we had a long, cool spring, with short bursts of hot weather. I had some beautiful shows of iris and my roses bloomed, too. The cool weather meant the nights didn't really warm up enough to put in summer veggies until now. That matched up fairly neatly with my ongoing recovery from COVID and then a sinus infection. I finally have some energy and so my garden is finally getting some attention. Sweetie helped me with laying wood chips mulch and with filling up some pots with soil.

Three years ago I was able to get three red flax plants for free and they were the centerpiece plants for a planting area that included a Mr. Lincoln and a Just Joey rose, variegated leaf geranium, plus a perennial daisy plant that has grown huge,

a lilac shrub in a big pot and planting of regular red geranium, plus some bacopa...with small white flowers on a trailing vine. Around the Mr. Lincoln deep red rose a single fan of purple iris has expanded to many iris fans. There is also a pot with a couple of lily plants. 

All of these plants are still there, most of them in pots or barrels, but by removing the spent flax plants, I made room for some zucchini plants, plus one tomato plant...and fresh potting soil (see photo at top). With our drought I'm reluctant to add anything else. 

I save the water that runs out of the faucet cold while waiting for the hot water to arrive and that is used to help keep the established plants alive. We also have irrigation to the set of plants that now have the veggies. The irrigation is on a timer so that we can limit it to no more than needed. I do hope to keep my roses alive and the lilies. The iris are done blooming, so they don't need much water and even the lilac (see photo above) can go for a while without water because it sits in partial shade. Fingers crossed that I won't lose too many plants this year!

Late June and July should be wonderful because by then the daisy plant will flower, the lilies will be in full bloom, the roses will have started to bloom again, and we will have the tomato and zucchini  plants should be large and flowering, too. I'll try to do a post then to show how it looks in its glory.