There’s no denying it. Here are the days when lights need to be flicked on before dinnertime, when socks need to be added to bare feet, when getting into bed in the evening means frisking your feet back and forth against the sheets until they warm up.
Soon enough we will fill our houses with tree branches and twinkly lights and other things that make the long nights more tolerable. But before those lights and pine boughs—and after them—let there be warm ovens and stick-to-your-ribs food, and smudgy wine glasses, and belly laughs to help get us get on through to the other side.
I am convinced that key among the tricks to getting through these dark months is a rock-solid pastry crust recipe.
And what, pray tell is the secret to a rock-solid pastry crust recipe?
Memorization and a healthy relationship with imperfection.
You memorize the ingredients and the way the dough looks when it’s ready to be combined so that nothing can stop you from taking the five minutes to make it. Five minutes. That’s about all that stands between you and creating a delicious, buttery crust; a crust so reliable that you can fold any number of things into it and come out with a new favorite autumn meal, to say nothing of mid-winter or early spring. And if you can’t ever manage to roll a neat crust, you do not care, because you know that this one will be delicious whether it’s picture-perfect or not. My go-to crust is a take on Mark Bittman’s savory pie crust from How to Cook Everything and it’s just right.
Short Days Galette
For the crust:
This is absolutely not the first time I’ve crowed about this pastry crust recipe. And it won’t be the last. So if you haven’t memorized it yet, here’s another chance.
1 rounded cup of flour
1 stick of butter
A healthy pinch of salt
A few tablespoons cold water to pull it together
Toss a healthy pinch of salt into a cup or so of flour and mix. Cut cold butter into small pieces and using a fork, pastry blender, or food processor, blend the butter and flour until the mixture resembles small crumbs. Use your hands to form a ball, slowly add a tablespoon of cold water at a time to pull the dough together. Wrap the ball and pop it into the freezer for ten minutes until chilled (I used the paper wrapper my butter came in to wrap mine.) Take this time to make the filling.
For the filling:
2 tablespoons butter
1 bunch of rainbow chard, chopped (stems included)
1 large fistful of small tomatoes, sliced in half
Melt a tablespoon or two of butter into a hot skillet and add rinsed leek rounds and a good sprinkle of salt. Cook until melted down, about ten minutes. Add chopped chard to the leeks and a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. Cook until wilted and then turn off the heat.*
Roll your chilled pastry dough into a rough round. (Rachel precooked her rolled tart; I tried to do the same but things got a little dicey when it came time to fold. I’ll stick to my usual lazy ways next time and wing it sans precook.) Spoon your leeks and chard onto the center of the dough. Top with sliced tomatoes and Parmesan cheese. Roughly fold in the edges of the dough and slide it into the preheated 350° oven to bake for about 40 minutes or until the crust is golden and flaky.
*If you’re feeling like a little something extra, feel free to add in a splash of cream or an extra bit of grated cheese in this step. If you’d like to up the protein a bit, whisk in an egg.
And that, my friends, is that. Here’s a sincere wish that you too will wield your sticks of butter like swords against dark nights and make your own versions of this galette. Fill ’em up with whatever you can find. Light your candles, lift your forks and forge ahead, butter-filled.