Fail Forward: Pistachio Macarons With Rosewater Filling

These were an abject failure.

I was born to write.

I certainly have the temperament for it – I am an introvert, and I over think everything. At a minimum I think writers need to be comfortable alone, stuck in their head for substantial periods of time.

#Check

But for as long as I can remember I have been jotting words down on scraps of paper and hoarding them. Sometimes these words come together with periods and commas and semicolons (my favorite form of punctuation. #TotalDork), sometimes they are occasionally formed together on the wings of a poem, and sometimes they remain just fluttering scraps of thought that I save, maybe waiting for their chance.

I have always loved journals and pens and the accoutrement of writers, but bar napkins, receipts, and matchbooks (from back when there were such things readily available) are all a part of the flotsam of my writerly (if not always writer’s) life.

I even remember my first typewriter: an IBM Selectric. I didn’t write much on that beige beast except for papers and other undergraduate work, but I lugged it around with me for years before finally donating it to Goodwill where I am sure it languished on a dusty shelf until someone decided to recycle it.

My behaviors are those of a writer – seclusion, procrastination, and moment- and memory-hoarding.

That writing is tragically hard for me is an unfortunate irony of my chosen profession. Writers complaining of the pain of writing is not unusual and indeed seems to be part of the job description. Every word you put on the page is a reflection of yourself shining glaringly back at yourself, like a mirror that doesn’t really allow for whitewashing of flaws or highlighting of assets. Writing is radical honesty, only self-inflicted.

If I am honest with myself, which I always try to be, writing is the most painful and precious and cutting place I have ever visited because, as a writer, even if I don’t write it down it stays humming around in my brain, and even if I do write it down and never read it, I know it’s there. There are blogs from the early days of Dane’s death that I simply cannot read now. They are raw streams of emotion poured on the page, the very essence of grief distilled in  a paragraph or two when keeping it inside was not a viable option.

So there’s that physical pain of writing the truth as I see it.

And then there’s the intellectual pain. Not the mental struggle to choose the right word or really be honest with what I mean to say and not give in to the urge to have some sort of flourish that is not me. Although this can be excruciating, in many cases time, work, and careful attention to words and the craft of assembling them can help with this, as can copious amounts of reading and patience and careful editing.

I am talking about that odious bitch, the Anti-Cheerleader. The constant mental struggle against feelings of inadequacy and doubt.

The clear knowledge that millions of people are writing AT THIS VERY MOMENT, and most of them are doing it better than me. That someone has already said what I am saying, and way better. That somehow, everyone’s thoughts are better than mine, and I am foolish to believe that anyone gives a rat’s ass about what I have to say.

Do you see the trend? The Anti-Cheerleader assures me that I am unworthy, that my work is not worth the price of the ink used to print it out, and that I will never be able to find any value – monetary or otherwise – as a writer. And, finally, that I should not even be calling myself “writer.”

It seems masochistic to willfully  undertake something that continually reminds you how bad you are at that thing. And then to tangle your identity (“I am a writer”) all up in that thing? Well, that is certainly madness.

As it is a well-known fact that many artists are batshit crazy, I suppose a tinge of madness comes with the territory. But still.

Every time I sit down to write or I avoid sitting down to write or I read about someone who has sat down to write I am forced to confront all of these feelings over and over again.

But I was born to write.

I was born to the struggle of shaving words onto the page. I was born to turn the things I experience into sentences that mean something, even if they only ever really mean something to me.

I love words. I love the way they look on the page. I love the way they sound when they are spoken. I love the way they connect to each other and disconnect from each other and connect the people who read them with an invisible thread.

I love trying to figure out which word is exactly the right one, even if the word is simple and small and not flowery and worth 50 cents on the SAT.

Language matters, and it happens to be the currency in which I traffic.

For me, food is like this, too.

Food connects people in ways that even language cannot. I have been fascinated by food since I was young, especially the ways in which it brings people together. Aside from having to eat to sustain life, special moments are marked with food, and that food becomes the shared experience upon which lives are built.

But, as with writing, there are millions of people cooking better than I am. And developing better recipes. And just in general knowing more that I do, latecomer as I am to the whole business of cooking and eating, and with no formal training or work in the back of the house.

Writing + Food = Food Writing, which also = Nearly Paralyzing Feelings Of Inadequacy

And then there is this:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”

Hell, YEAH, it is.

Because there is ALWAYS someone who is better. Who knows more. Is funnier. Has tighter abs. Better hair. Whatever. Name it. Someone is better.

Which can be, I suppose, a bit of relief. There is no such thing as “the best.” Maybe it might be “the best right at this moment..whoops…not anymore,” or “the best for you with what you had at the time.”

I say this “can be” a bit of relief because most days, if I am being honest (which I always try to be), that doesn’t really help. I still feel like a huckster and a fraud selling skills which, if I actually possess them, are ephemeral and difficult to regulate and duplicate.

Then some days, quite accidentally, there is a shining bit of joy, when the Sunshiney Rays Of Competence dart through the Clouds of Self-Doubt And Despair with a crepuscular golden light.

Today is not that day.

My particular friend Khristian works with a lovely woman, Linar, who you all just WISH would teach your kids someday. Seriously. Her classroom (and her manner with the children and pretty much every person who crosses her path) is so lovely and loving and supportive that every time I see her, even my introverted self leans a little closer. Linar gave Khristian a bottle of rosewater, and he turned it over to me. I promised her a recipe using that, so here it is. Pistachios and rosewater is a classic combination, and macarons have been my archnemesis.

Turns out, they remain my archnemesis.

While the macaron flavor was delicious, they did not rise on glorious feet. The filling tasted like a mouthful of flowers, even though I was very sparing. Some might like it; for me, it was overly perfumed and not pleasant.

This is not the end that I expected to have, but there it is. It is important, I think, to discuss the hard parts, the failure, in cooking. It’s easy enough to make something look delicious; that’s only so much smoke, mirrors, and microwaved tampons.

Failure isn’t pretty, but it’s necessary. If you must fail – and rest assured, you must – fail forward.

For the curious, here’s the recipe. I would advise you make these at your own risk, and if you do, let me know how it goes.

Pistachio Macarons With Rosewater Filling

Ingredients

Macarons

1/2 cup finely ground pistachios

1/2 cup finely ground almond meal

1 cup powdered sugar

3 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

Filling

2 egg whites

1/2 cup sugar

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1-2 teaspoons rosewater (less or more, to taste)

Method

Line two baking sheets with silpat mat or parchment paper. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift ground pistachios, almond flour, and powdered sugar. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the whip attachment, whip egg whites until they begin to gain volume and become bubbly. When this happens, slowly add sugar until fully incorporated and egg whites are thick and holding soft peaks.

Add egg white mixture to nuts mixture and fold in vigorously with a spatula until thoroughly incorporated.

Place macaron batter in a piping bag fitted with a round tip (or use a large freezer bag with the end snipped off) and pipe into circles onto silpat (which may have guides on them already). Bang cookie sheet on the counter to settle the batter (just a couple good whacks) then let macarons sit for 30 minutes to an hour. The macarons need to dry and form a skin, of sorts, in order to get a good lift while baking and have visible “feet” (the frilly part on the bottom of the cookie).

When the top of the macarons are dry to the touch, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for nine to 12 minutes or until they are crisp outside. Cool completely before removing from silpat and filling.

To make the filling, combine egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl and set over a pan of simmering water, beating with a hand mixer until it thickens and is hot to the touch. Remove bowl from water and, still mixing, add butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing until incorporated.

Continue to beat this mixture until it thickens and has the texture of light frosting. Add rosewater to taste and stir to combine.

Pipe a circle of frosting on the flat part of one macaron, and top with another.

Recipe Notes

I do not use food coloring, but if you do, the macarons can be colored with two drops of green, and the filling can be colored with one or two drops of red.

Macarons should be stored at room temperature and eaten within a day or two. They also freeze well.

Reading Snacks – Warm Olives With Lemon And Rosemary

Warm olives = heaven.

Until this recent political debacle, I didn’t realize how much I missed reading.

Growing up, I was a voracious reader of all types of printed materials – comics, cereal boxes, advertisements, poetry, novels – whatever was available. I read myself sick in the car and nearly blind in the dim light of the evening when I should have been sleeping (true story. I have been wearing glasses since second grade, with seriously and rapidly deteriorating eyesight in the years that followed. As I enter my dotage – mid-40s – insult has been unceremoniously added to injury in the form of readers, a new necessity for reading. But I digress).

One of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon was in the stacks of Wonder Books, a small used bookstore in Frederick, Maryland. My brother, father, and I would spend Sunday afternoons reading in our separate corners among the dusty comics and paperbacks. Sometimes we’d buy one; sometimes we would just read there and go home empty-handed. I imagine this was a break for my mom, but I can vividly recall the warmth and comfort of those days spent hunched in the aisle, reading. When it came time to apply for my first job, that’s where I went (only it was Wonder Book and Video by then).

I like the smell and feel of a book, new or used, in my hands. Recognizing that it’s difficult to travel light with a  library of well over 2,000 books, I attempted to use a digital book for a time but quickly abandoned that. There is no sensory beauty for me in a digital book.

When Dane died in 2013, a switch flipped, and I found no comfort in books. I quickly realized that fiction was dead to me in many ways (with notable exceptions made for my favorite author, TC Boyle, and a new favorite, Jhumpa Lahiri); there was nothing that seemed to hold my attention. Magazines were okay, but they were quickly read and then just became dust-catchers.

The Facebook stepped in to fill the void.

For several years now, I have been ritually (compulsively?) reading Facebook, many times a day. What started as an interesting place to catch up with people and see pictures of family or look at cat videos quickly became fraught with arguments. I whittled my friends and family down, blocking or unfriending those who were racist, xenophobic, or homophobic. I saw Facebook as the digital equivalent of going out for coffee with a friend, and who wants to spend that time deflecting racial slurs and arguing about immigration? Not me.

But I have noticed something in the past few years. Facebook and Twitter and Instagram have become more of an addiction than a minor passing interesting that I can dip in and out of. When I felt lonely or needed a connection, I spent more time online, which seems to be the story of most everyone’s life these days.

In addition, the pace of news delivered through these sites has become so frenetic that a person can hear about events nearly the instant they happen (or instantly, as with live-streaming Facebook video that has captured everything from birth to beatings to suicide, all in front of unsuspecting viewers who maybe just logged on to see a cat in a shark costume on a Roomba.).

The past 18 months in politics have been particularly brutal. The depth of ignorance and hate being spewed and the constant hammering of executive orders that seemed aimed at delivering us back to Nazi Germany has been overwhelming to me. My anxiety, already challenging during this particular time of year, has been through the roof.

Even the dog is having anxiety attacks, and he is medicated (and to be honest, which I always try to be, as am I at times. It has not helped).

So two days ago I did the logical thing: I pulled the plug on Facebook.

I didn’t give up my Charm City Edibles page (go join! It’s awesome!), and I am still on Instagram, which seems much more innocuous and for me features only food and the occasional travel picture, but I have completely checked out of Facebook for the near future.

I have also stopped listening to NPR and watching news. In essence, I have imposed upon myself a near-total media blackout.

Yes, news still trickles in, but it’s a trickle instead of drinking from a firehose.

This media blackout has left me with considerable free time, time I have begun to fill with books. In January I read seven books, and three days into February I am finishing up my first book, with one on the way in the mail and two more on hold at the library.

I have spent long, leisurely afternoons on the couch, listening to the wind howl outside my window and the dogs snoring on the floor beside me as I read.

I have stuck mainly to non-fiction trending towards cookbooks and food writing, but at the library a copy of The Tin Drum and The Yearling are waiting for me.

Maybe it’s the slower pace of reading and allowing myself to settle in for a few hours instead of reading in 140 characters or skimming the first sentence of a TL:DR article on The Facebook. Maybe it’s the fact that I am not constantly reminded of how badly we are fucking up this country right now and how powerless it seems we are to stop it.

Whatever it is, it’s lovely. It’s lovely to come back to the sensual pleasures of language and reading and cozy blankets and sleeping dogs and maybe a nap that happens later in the afternoon.

Or quite possibly it’s the snacks.

Reading requires a beverage and a snack; it’s very easy to get hungry and dehydrated doing nothing. #GiveItATry #YoullLoveIt

I could eat my weight in salt and vinegar potato chips and chocolate candy, but those snacks when combined with lounging are not conducive to overall good health. So moderation is required, and this means something nibbly but not too much of any one thing – nothing too sweet, too fatty, too salty, etc.

These olives are perfect for that. They don’t directly fulfill a sweet-tooth craving, but the lingering lemon and rosemary somehow seem to attend to it enough so that more snacks aren’t necessary.

You also need a snack that doesn’t require utensils. This fits that bill neatly as well.

I use the rosemary that continues to cling to life in a pot on my back porch (so luxurious!) and organic lemon.

Warm Olives With Rosemary And Lemon

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 six- to eight-ounce jar of mixed olives in brine, drained

1 teaspoon minced garlic

zest from one lemon

1 or 3 sprigs of rosemary

Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Optional: red pepper flakes

Method

Heat olive oil gently over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for a couple minutes until it releases its fragrance. Add the lemon and rosemary and cook for about 30 seconds, keeping the heat medium-low and stirring as you cook.

Add the olives and cook until warmed through (not hot). Remove from heat and add freshly ground black pepper to taste. For a little heat, add some red pepper flakes.

Recipe notes:

  • Pitted olives are easiest, but feel free to use whichever olives you prefer.
  • I love rosemary and like to cook it a little bit longer to release its flavor, but this is a personal preference.
  • You could also use orange zest to add a touch more sweetness.

What are your favorite reading snacks?

 

Gratitude, Day 18: Conversation

NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?

Neighbors, plus a beautiful sky that everyone can see.

In a week in which the thin veneer of civility has been scraped away like the skin on top of pudding, it has been refreshing to have at least one conversation with someone whose views I do not share that resulted in an amicable agreement to disagree and a promise to keep talking.

This person was a stranger on the internet.

I think this type of interchange is rare, especially these days.

We seem to have lost the ability to truly communicate with each other, seeking first to understand and only then to be understood.

The winner is whomever shouts loudest.

I have been censoring the hell out of myself these past days, crippled by a debilitating sense of doom, accompanied by a side of Who The Hell Is Listening Anyway. I type replies and delete them.

But this one time, I typed my reply and hit send, and what came back was a reasoned and measured conversation about healthcare, specifically the Affordable Care Act.

No one yelled.

No one got personal or insulting.

Everyone felt heard.

So today, as clumsy as we humans can be about it, I am grateful for those moments in conversation when we all feel respected and listened to and understood, not only by people who share our own views (which is easiest) but also by those with whom we disagree.

This is no small challenge – to truly hear others.

But it is work worth doing.

What are you grateful for today?

Gratitude, Day 2: Latkes, Roast Chicken, And Unphotogenic Curry

NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?

Latkes, roast chicken, and unphotogenic curry: what do these things have in common?

These are the three favorite dishes of the Gorgeous Girl, the Muffin, My Darling Child. The Kid.

My Gorgeous Girl, with her kitty, in the tiny house she built.
My Gorgeous Girl, with her kitty, in the tiny house she built.

I hesitated to put her on this list. The level of gratitude I have for my child is indescribable, and many people aren’t interested in reading a thousand-word Ode To Someone Else’s Child.

Still. She needs to be on here because she has made me a better person than I might ever have been without her, and for that I am truly grateful.

This is gratitude and love from a person who never wanted kids. Like, ever. Who treated the realization of her conception like a death sentence.

That’s dramatic, but close.

Sicily knows that she was, to be politically correct, “unplanned.” She is aware that her father and I may or may not have conceived her on a couch or in the front seat of a Sebring convertible somewhere in southeastern Virginia on a hormone-fueled two-week road trip up the east coast back in 1999, just six short months after our first meeting.

She knows this because I have told her. In my defense and in response to some who might object to this candid and open conversation, Sicily asked. She is curious and wants to know but also knows when she shouldn’t necessarily know yet. When she was eight or nine, she saw a magazine that said “STD” on the cover when we were in line at the supermarket.

“What’s an STD?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, feeling everyone in line lean toward me as I started to answer. “You know how when you get a cold and your nose is stuffy but sometimes also snotty and just generally feels terrible?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Very simply, it’s something like that, but on your vagina or your penis.”

Long pause.

“Yeah, I think I am too young to know that,” she said.

This is not even the beginning of why I adore her so much.

When Sicily was three, the cat threw up on the couch. AGAIN. Cursing under my breath, I ran to get paper towels to clean it up and came back to find Sicily gently petting the kitty and saying, “Mommy, the kitty feels really bad.”

This was my first indication of the kindness and compassion of this child, and it stopped me in my distracted irritation towards the cat.

She loves her friends, loves her family, and loves her mother, even when her mother is unlovable.

She knows how to apologize when she is wrong. She asks questions when she doesn’t know. She is most like her father in that she accepts people at face value. She is stubborn as hell, a blessing and a curse.

Sicily is studying in France for a year, not only because she wanted to but also because she was utterly terrified to do so. She is 16, and she left her home and all of her friends because even at this young age she recognized that you can be afraid and still do the thing anyway.

I have used this quote before when it comes to my child, and I will use it again, as it always applies:

“Having a child is consenting to have your heart walk around outside of your body.” ~Maya Angelou~

I never knew how deep love could go until I met Sicily at 11:20 pm on May 4, 2000.

When I asked her what her favorite foods were (foods that I make – Frito Lay’s Honey BBQ Twists were not an eligible answer), her answer reflected very different periods of her life.

1). Latkes: “Because it reminds me of Nana and Pop-pop when I was little.”

2). Roast chicken with mashed potatoes and crunchy broccoli and carrots: This is something I made frequently when we lived on five acres in Georgia. Her reason? “Because it is simple and nice.”

3). “That beef curry over rice that you used to make all the time at the house in Medfield (our temporary rental in Baltimore while our current house was rehabbed) because it makes me feel warm.”

That beef curry is pretty much the most comforting food you can put in your mouth. It fills the house with  a delicious smell, and the spices knock off even the deepest chill. If you are sick or feeling sad, that beef curry is filling and comforting and makes your nose (and maybe eyes) run just a little. If you are well, it reinforces that fact that all is good in the world.

It is not a true curry in the sense that you can throw it together in the time it takes for the rice to cook, but I never claimed to be a curry expert. I made it because I wanted to try something new, and it was a roaring success.

That Sicily picked these three humble, warming dishes is reflective of the person that she is. On this second day of 30 Days of Thanks, I offer my humble gratitude to her for becoming the person she is and to the universe for allowing me to have the experience of being her parent.

What (or who) are you grateful for today?

 

 

Gratitude, Day 1: Mushroom Galette For My Particular Friend

NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?

Last week I drove to Pennsylvania to visit my nearly-98-year-old grandmother. It was the day after a particularly difficult therapy session (yes, we can talk about this: it’s mental health, y’all), and the drive out of the city was a welcome escape.

There is something about sunny, crisp days when the trees are outlined in black against the clearest blue sky and golden-hued leaves fall like rain from the trees that fills me up with a complicated mix of emotions.

On this particular day, I had a very clear sense of myself and what it is I am trying to do.

Let go.

Give in.

Lean in.

(a phrase I hate but which is utterly appropriate here)

On a day like this, I feel like every step I take is a step towards the person I have always wanted to become in this lifetime and away from the person that I was becoming, the child who experienced trauma but had never looked it square in the eyes as an adult. It is difficult to imagine doing work like this on a clear, sunny day, and yet this is one of the few times when I feel at peace with myself.

I cannot always talk explicitly about the things I am dealing with; it’s not a fit for this blog, and it will be hurtful to some who are still on the earth. But it is important work for me, and as I drove the two hours to see Grandma, I kept returning to one person with whom I have been able to talk explicity, slowly unwinding the knotted threads of decades-old hurts and haunts.

In this endeavor, I have been supported this past (nearly) year by someone who has previously only been known as my “particular friend.”

I am 45. “Boyfriend” sounds dumb at my age.

“Partner” could be many different things.

“Lovin’ spoonful” is silly and applies but is often dismissed.

“Lover” just doesn’t work in mixed company.

In light of this, I will start my 30 Days of Thanks by introducing Khristian Weeks, my particular friend.

#Happiness
#Happiness

I introduce him here, this first day, because he has been in the 11 months I have known him a source of tremendous joy, love, and support.

Khristian is an artist. He loves children and has decided to love my dogs, even though he isn’t, himself, actually a dog person (and they love him sloppily back).

He brings me coffee in bed.

I cook for him, and he loves it.

We go for long walks.

We kiss in public, quite a lot (sorry, everyone in the freezer section of MOM’s in Hampden).

He talks to me about creative things and wants to collaborate with me, a first for me in all of my time as a writer (and with a host of other past artistic boyfriends who maybe never saw me as an artist).

Khristian has made me happy and given me hope for everything that is to come in this life.

So for all of this, I am making him a mushroom galette.

Khristian is a newly-minted pescatarian, and he loves all things vegetable.

Except mushrooms.

So why in hell would I decide to make a mushroom galette for this person who means so much to me? Isn’t that sort of shitty?

Well, here’s the thing.

I like a challenge. Khristian hates mushrooms; I want to make him something with mushrooms that he loves.

When my friend Laura posted that she had foraged some maitake mushrooms (also known as hen of the woods) from Druid Hill Park, I swapped her buttermilk mashed potatoes, two types of slaw, and a roasted chicken thigh for a huge bag of maitakes and a smaller bag of chicken of the woods mushrooms (which I am planning on frying like chicken and slathering in barbecue sauce. #Trust).

#GoodTrade

The recipe below uses my  gluten-free galette crust from my butternut squash and caramelized onion galette. The filling is a combination of red chard harvested from The Friends School (where Khristian works), mushrooms from Druid Hill Park just two miles away, and ricotta cheese. This is the kind of hyper-local food that is bound to taste good.

Hopefully dedicating a recipe to someone isn’t like getting their named tattooed on your body (as in, that it pretty much instantly dooms the relationship).

Khristian, my love, on my first day of gratitude in November, this is for you.

galette

Maitake Mushroom and Swiss Chard Galette

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (regular flour works, too)

pinch of salt

1 stick of very cold butter, cut into bits (or frozen and grated)

1/4 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream, or regular yogurt)

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup ice water (seriously. Ice water. Don’t skimp. Cold tap doesn’t work.)

1 cup ricotta cheese, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper

1 cup (ish) maitake mushrooms, torn, or crimini mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 large bunch of red chard, cut into bite-sized pieces (I do not remove the ribs, but you can if you like)

1 egg, beaten

1 cup fresh mixed herbs (I used all parsley because that’s what was in the Friends’ School garden, but any combination of cilantro, chives, or dill would be lovely)

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Method

Make pastry first, as it needs to chill. You can even make it the day before.

Method one: Combine flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lemon juice. Add butter to flour and salt in food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Add sour cream mixture and pulse to combine. Slowly add ice water until dough comes together.

Method two: Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and lemon juice. Using a pastry cutter or fingers, rub butter into flour until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add sour cream mixture and mix well. Add ice water and mix until dough comes together.

Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press together into a ball. Wrap tightly and chill for an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large pan to prevent overcrowding, heat oil and add mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. If mushrooms are crowded in the pan, they will steam rather than crisp. If you only have a small pan, saute in batches. Crispy mushrooms take about five minutes over medium-high heat. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add garlic to the same pan and saute without burning, then add red chard. Season with salt and pepper, then cook until the chard begins to wilt. I like to keep mine slightly crispy, but it’s up to you. Four minutes and your chard will be completely wilted. I cook for about a minute less than that.

I use a piece of parchment paper to roll out my crust, as this makes for super easy transfer to a baking sheet.

Place chilled dough on parchment. Place plastic wrap on top of the dough (this keeps pastry from sticking to the rolling pin without adding extra flour, which can dry pastry out) and roll out into a circle roughly 12″ in diameter and no more than a 1/4″ thick.

Spread 3/4 cup of ricotta over the pastry, leaving about 1 1/2″ around the edge without filling. Top ricotta with chard, then pile mushrooms on top of that. Spoon remaining ricotta over vegetables. Season once more with salt and pepper.

Fold the edges of the pastry over and pinch to seal any gaps. I use a bench scraper to pick up the dough so that I am not warming it up by touching it more than I have to.

Brush edges of pastry with beaten egg.

Keeping galette on the parchment, transfer to a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes (check at 20) until the edges are golden brown.

Remove from oven and let stand for at least five minutes before serving. To serve, mix fresh herbs, lemon zest, lemon juice, and one tablespoon of olive oil together. Top galette with herb mixture and cut like a pizza.

Serves six.