We store squash on the front porch all winter in a diminishing display, colorful reminder of what’s available to cook. Just one squash left must be a sign of spring and calls for doing something special.
One definition of art is “making special.” In cooking, that can mean presentation or a fancy cake, but also baking for dinner – adding to the ordinary. Deborah’s “Winter Squash Galette” is the best of both worlds – dinner and handwork.
To bake the squash for the galette filling, Deborah just stuffs the squash with garlic cloves, separated but not chopped or even peeled. While the oven warms the kitchen I make her “Yeasted Tart Dough with Olive Oil.” The rhythms of preparing to bake please: mix wet and dry in two different sized glass bowls, combine and stir. Knead – changing sticky ingredients (including a little whole wheat) into something elastic and alive with potential.
While the dough rises, I cook onions, adding 12 sage leaves from the garden. Squeeze the cooked garlic into the squash, add a little Gruyere, and combine with the squash.
This is forgiving dough, I roll it out with the old wooden rolling pin and form a “rustic circle” on the bottom of a cookie sheet. Plop the squash mix in the middle of the dough, pleat the sides up, and paint with egg yolk.
Then enjoy the house filled with fragrance – as ingredients transform in the oven.
Forming into objects – maybe that’s what I like about baking. A friend here, clever and good with her hands, offered me a piece of quiche the other night, made with flour from local wheat, a nutty, tasty treat and shaped into her perfectly fluted piecrust. That’s art for sure – both in the look of it and the gift of it.
A galette is more relaxed but it’s remarkably beautiful. Fresh out of the oven with dough puffed up, shiny and golden around warm orange filling, it looks much more complicated and time-consuming than it is. I took it to Christmas dinner this year, as a cheerful add-on for non-turkey types.
A galette makes leftovers special, too.