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#1100 - Tasted in Normandy
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September 4, 2012 #1100 Tasted in Normandy
Earlier this summer, Al made yet another trip to Normandy in France, and as usual he kept his eyes open and his taste buds ready for adventure. Several of the dishes he orders every time have become gastronomic souvenirs for him, and he tries them at home. One of the signature dishes of Normandy is something that gave Jerry a bit of confusion.
The Norman "galette" is not the kind of galette one encounters elsewhere in France. Ordinarily the word galette refers to a sweet cake. The Norman version is a large buckwheat crepe filled with savory ingredients. The batter is easy to make: eggs, buckwheat flour, milk, water, oil and salt get the trick done. Use your biggest skillet to make these, or better yet, use a flat griddle and one of those little batter spreaders to twirl up a nice round shape.
The galette will cook quickly, and you might want to leave one side underdone. It's perfectly all right to make a bunch and then stack them under a warm towel. The stuffings for a galette are always savory. And here, your imagination is the only limit. Traditionally, however, you see a lot of gruyere cheese, ham, mushroom, eggs, potatoes, smoked salmon, sausage, and assorted vegetables - just about anything you can find at the farmers market. Any combination can conceivably work. Whatever the ingredient, save the cheese and eggs, it should be cooked beforehand.
To fill and cook, place the galette undercooked side down on your biggest skillet. Cut up your ingredients so as to emphasize thinness and flatness. Put the gooiest part down first; the egg mixture (like for an omelet) or the cheese, and then add all the others, keeping things bunched in the middle. Heat on the stove top over medium heat, shaking the skillet constantly; covering helps. Then, fold the four outer sides in toward the middle, and put the entire skillet in a 350 degree oven for a couple minutes. Use multiple skillets if you can, otherwise, keep the finished galettes warm until you bring all to the table.
This trip Al enjoyed a "Galette Fermier," or farmer's galette, in the lovely seaside town of Cabourg. This is one of those "everything but the kitchen sink" recipes that is perfect when its been too long between meals. The fermier includes grated emmenthaler cheese, eggs, potatoes, ham and thinly sliced chicken breast. Needless to say, it's a full meal.
The other ubiquitous dish you find all over France is the celebrated Croque Monsieur. This glorified ham and cheese sandwich is a mainstay for the hungry lunch crowd, and is one of the more acceptable fast food choices you can make. If you can make French toast and béchamel sauce (the easiest of all), you can make a Croque Monsieur. Simply prepare a thick piece of unsweetened French toast, lay down a layer of gruyere cheese, a layer of thinly sliced ham, and cover generously with that béchamel sauce. Stick it under the broiler for about one minute, and voila: the ultimate in satisfying cafe food. And of course, if you want to change the gender of the sandwich, top it off with a fried egg and you have Croque Madame.
Classic Normandy Galette Batter
2 1/2 cups of buckwheat flout, sifted
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 whole egg
pinch of salt
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, and refrigerate for two hours.