Thursday, July 16, 2009

Denise Rae Kouzoujian Guest Post Part II - Which came first—the chicken or the egg?

Currently I am working on a memoir piece/pastry cookbook that I’m calling,
“Is That a Chicken? Finding Patience Through Pastry.”

Last year while on a camping trip with my husband, son and my college roommate’s family, Dave said, “Hey Denise! I saw a great T-shirt last week and I thought of you. It said ‘I don’t have AD/HD… IS THAT A CHICKEN?’”

Now, one year later, it’s my favorite line and my husband’s too. I must say that I have those “chicken” moments all the time! Whether it’s AD/HD (Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder), bi-polar, high functioning autism, learned behavior or merely genetics, it’s who I am. It’s what I do. And it seems to get me through.

I’ve been a shoot-from-the-hip kind of gal all of my life, and when it comes to cooking, I have always said that I don’t do pastry. I’m pinch-and-dash, a savory chef. Pastry takes patience. I’m not patient. Cooking is emotional, pastry is logical. I’m emotional—I cook!

Well, earlier this year, I fell into the world of pastry and I’m beginning to find my patience. Let’s see what comes of it, shall we?

Here is an Apricot-Blackberry Galette recipe from “Culinary Road Trip” A Search for New Wines Leads to Past Reflections, an article I wrote, appearing in the July & August 2009 issue of Vine Times Magazine that I thought you might enjoy:

Apricot-Blackberry Galette (Serves 6)

One of my favorite childhood memories is walking with my sister down to our local elementary school, bucket in hand and dressed in “berry-picking clothes,” to pick blackberries. We’d bring them home for fresh blackberry pie and jam. This galette is a nice twist on an old favorite.

For pastry dough:

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick), cut into thin slices

4-6 tablespoons ice water

For apricot-blackberry filling:

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar

10- 12 sweet, ripe apricots, cut into 1/4"-thick slices

1/2 pint blackberries, raspberries or other berries; can be a combination or a single kind

Juice from half of a lemon

2 tablespoons butter, cut into thin slices

Egg wash:

2 eggs & 2 tablespoons water, beat together with a fork.

Preheat oven to 425F.

To prepare pastry dough:

1. In a medium bowl, mix flour and salt. Cut in cold butter using two knives in scissor-fashion or pastry blender until mixture has coarse, pea-sized crumbs. Sprinkle ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, into flour mixture, mixing with hands just until dough holds together. (If you work dough too much, it will not be as light and flaky once baked.) Shape into a flat ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Line large cookie sheet with parchment paper. On floured surface, roll out dough into 13-inch round. Transfer to lined cookie sheet.

To prepare apricot-blackberry filling:

1. In large bowl, mix together cornstarch and sugar, reserving 2 tablespoons for later. Add apricots, berries and lemon juice, gently tossing to coat fruit. Spoon filling onto center of dough round, leaving a 2-1/2-inch border all around. Dot filling with butter. Fold border of dough up over outer edge of filling, leaving a good-sized opening in the center. Pleat edges as you go and pinch dough to seal any cracks.

2. Lightly brush the dough on top with the egg wash & sprinkle with reserved sugar.

3. Bake galette 45 to 50 minutes or until crust is golden brown and filling is gently bubbling. As soon as galette is removed from oven, use a metal spatula to loosen it from the parchment paper. Allow galette to cool 15 minutes on cookie sheet, then slide it onto a rack to cool completely.

So, to answer that age old question, which came first – the chicken or the egg? I still don’t know. Maybe it’s either, both or possibly neither. I guess there is no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s like that with passion, you find it everywhere and in everything; from the people in our lives, the art and music we love, to the food & wine we eat and drink, and the places we see in business or pleasure, and for some, in the words that we write. There is no right or wrong with passion either, it’s who we are, what we discuss and sometimes write about, and for me that’s all it really needs to be.

Now, if I were to have to try to answer this question, I would say that it was the chicken that came before the egg, or should I say lots of eggs. For many years now I have enjoyed preparing those savory chicken dishes and it wasn’t until just recently that I’ve used so many eggs in my new pastry recipes—and with it all, I have gathered quite a few stories along the way.

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