chard, goat cheese and walnut galette with oat pastry

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My mother is one of those thoroughly gifted, green-fingered people who breathes life into dwindled branches on a daily basis. When I was a child, she’d routinely rescue half-dead potted shrubs from local garden centres for one dollar apiece; a few weeks later, she’d be separating densely-packed roots into two separate pots of glossy green leaves.

She’d also frequently save seeds from fruit such as apples or papaya, drying them on the windowsill til their skins became hard and glossy.  She’d then plant them, with plenty of faith and a mound of organic mulch (she still swears by the efficacy of regular mulching).

We had thirty papayas from one of those dried seeds. Fledgling tomatoes and an avocado too. Each year, I benefit from her yield of apples and citrus fruit until my fridge is bursting at the seams.

But no. I haven’t inherited her gift.

I’ve tried. Oh gosh, I’ve tried. My front doorstep is frequently cluttered with dusty pots from plants-that-were; a sad memorial to my horticultural ineptness. I’ve spent a fortune on seeds and organic potting mix, only to be met with the rotting stench of dead foliage (and failure, obviously).

So you can imagine my surprise when a last-ditch effort to grow organic rainbow chard actually yielded results. Meaning, they’re STILL ALIVE. And thriving.

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Since my initial planting in November last year, my little crop of rainbow chard has grown spectacularly; I’ve harvested handfuls of stems every other week and there’s no sign of waning yet.

Other than eating the leaves raw in salads, I’ve made many a thin-crusted chard pizza (with caramelized onions, pesto and goats cheese), variations of sauteed greens and a few toasted coconut sweet potato and chard based curries.

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However, a few days ago I happened upon the idea of making an oat-flour based chard galette, with fresh walnuts that my mother picked on a recent trip to Bright, Victoria.

This thing is glorious. Absolutely bursting with savoury deliciousness. The slight bitterness from the chard combines beautifully with the earthy toasted walnuts, sweet onions and rich melted cheese, all encased in flaky oaten pastry.

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If you haven’t got a glut of chard in your own garden, feel free to substitute with any other leafy green (Tuscan kale works exceptionally well) or just use a whole quantity of spinach.  Walnuts can be easily traded for pine nuts if you prefer.

This galette is beautiful served in thick wedges for lunch with a simple dressed salad and marinated olives, or perhaps accompanied by buttered sourdough for a light dinner.

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Chard, Goat Cheese and Walnut Galette with Oat Pastry

Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup (100g) organic, finely milled* oat flour
  • 1 cup (125g) plain (all-purpose) white flour + about 1/4 cup extra for kneading
  • 200g cold, cubed unsalted butter
  • a good pinch of salt
  • iced water, as required (about 2 tbsp)
  • a splash (about 1/4 tsp) apple cider vinegar
  • 1 free-range egg, white and yolk separated

*use a coarse mill if you prefer more of an oaten texture

Filling:

  • 1 medium red (Spanish) onion, finely chopped
  • 3 small cloves of garlic, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
  • 100g fresh organic rainbow chard, stalks finely sliced, large leaves torn
  • 150g baby English spinach, leaves only
  • 50g raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 75g good-quality cheddar or ‘tasty’ cheese, grated
  • 50g goats cheese, crumbled
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 1 egg white, beaten with a splash of iced water (reserved from the egg used for the pastry)

For the dough: add the flours to a large mixing bowl with the salt and butter. Rub the butter in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Add in the apple cider vinegar, egg yolk (reserve the white for glazing) and a trickle of iced water. Mix well with your hands, adding a little more iced water as you go until the mixture becomes smooth and cohesive (the dough will become a little sticky).

Tip out onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth. Form into a rough disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes whilst you prepare your filling.

For the filling: add the onion, herbs and garlic to a saucepan with a good splash of olive oil. Allow to saute on low heat until opaque (do not allow to brown).

Increase heat to medium, then add the rainbow chard stems and leaves. Cook, stirring for one minute until wilted. Add in the English spinach and cook for another 2 minutes or until just wilted. Season with salt, turn off the heat and set the mixture aside to cool slightly.

Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees f). Line large tray with baking paper and set aside.

On a well-floured surface, roll out your pastry to 35 cm diameter (about 0.5mm thick). Carefully transfer the pastry onto your lined baking tray.

Sprinkle the teaspoon of flour over the centre of the pastry disc in a thin layer (this will absorb any fluid from the spinach and ensure your pastry doesn’t become soggy). Evenly distribute the cooled spinach mixture over the flour, leaving a 3cm border around the edge of the pastry.

Sprinkle over the cheeses and walnuts, then grind a good helping of black pepper over the filling. Turn the edges of the pastry disc up to roughly enclose the filling (don’t worry if it looks ‘rustic’, this is what a galette is all about!). Press together any overlapping pastry edges until you have a well sealed pastry crust. Brush with beaten egg white.

Bake the galette on a centre shelf in your preheated oven for 50-60 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden and the filling is bubbling. Allow to cool for five minutes before slicing to serve.

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Note: if you have a pizza stone (and love a crisp pastry crust) I’d highly recommend using it to bake this galette. Preheat the stone for five minutes, then carefully transfer the galette onto the stone atop the baking paper. Bake as above.

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beef and guinness hand pies

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It’s frosty this evening. Still, cold and soaked with winter rain. I’m sitting on the couch, tightly wrapped in a furry blue blanket. Despite just finishing dinner, I’m dreaming of food.

You may know by now that that’s not unusual. As a food blogger/recipe developer/carbohydrate and dairy obsessive, I think about food for at least 90% of my waking hours. Heck, sometimes I even dream about food. It’s rather good because… well, effectively I get to eat twice as much.

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Anyway, I digress. Tonight, I’m dreaming of one thing in particular: beef and Guinness hand pies. These gems were fashioned last weekend in partnership with my beautiful friend Erin who, for the record, makes the very best apple caramel cheesecake that I have ever tasted (I still need to steal her recipe). We drank tea, chatted, made spiced pumpkin soup and rolled pastry in clouds of flour. A few hours later, we ate glorious pockets of beef and gravy by the fireside in the best of company.

It was blissful, in every sense of the word.

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It’s now been six days since I ate those golden hand pies. Six long and arduous days, most of which were spent sitting in my shoebox office with dishwater coffee and a pile of paperwork. Between phone calls and assessments, I found my mind drifting towards crisp golden pastry, nuggets of tender beef and rich Guinness gravy. And pulled pork rolls, tacos and flax macarons but… well, mostly beef and gravy (see? all.the.time).

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These little pies are easy on both the eyes and the stomach. Erin and I stole the bones of the recipe from the Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook, though as per usual it’s been considerably tweaked. The pies themselves can be assembled in a flash; the only involved component is making the filling (and the pastry, if you’re that way inclined). Both elements can be prepared the day before, chilled overnight and assembled in minutes before cooking.

If you can, eat these by the fireside. With a chaser of peat-bog whisky. Winter food at its best.

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Beef and Guinness Hand Pies
Adapted from Food We Love by The Australian Women’s Weekly

Makes 24 snack-sized pies

  • 500g beef skirt or chuck steak, finely diced
  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 440ml can Guinness stout (we actually added an entire 750ml bottle and cooked it down for aaaages; do as you like! *substitute another stout if desired)
  • 1 cup (250ml) organic beef stock
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 350g homemade shortcrust pastry (or 3 sheets ready-rolled)
  • 350g homemade rough puff (or 3 sheets ready-rolled)
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten lightly
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Heat the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add beef and cook, stirring, until browned. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add in the flour, stirring until the mixture bubbles and is well browned.

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Gradually add in the stout and stock, stirring until the gravy boils and thickens. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Uncover and check for seasoning – add salt and pepper if necessary. Continue to simmer, uncovered, for another hour or until the gravy has reduced and thickened (it should appear thick and glossy; add a little cornflour slurry or cook for longer if required). Allow to cool.

Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (430 degrees f) until hot. Lightly grease 2 x 12 hole standard (1/4 – 1/3 cup capacity) muffin pans. Using a 10cm upturned bowl or pastry cutter, cut 24 rounds from the shortcrust pastry sheets. Using an 8cm upturned bowl or pastry cutter, cut 24 rounds from the remaining puff pastry.

Place one round of shortcrust pastry into each of the muffin holes, pressing lightly with your fingers to fit. Divide the beef filling between each pastry case (about 1 heaped tbsp each) and brush the edges with egg. Top with the rounds of puff pastry, pressing with your fingers to ensure that the edges are sealed. Brush with the remaining egg, then make a small slit in the top of each pie with a sharp knife.

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Bake pies for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden. Stand for 5 minutes in the pans before serving hot, with or without tomato sauce.

Note: Cooked pies can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 2 months (though I doubt that they’ll last that long)

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*Thanks to Wendy at Chez Chloe and Susan at The Wimpy Vegetarian for inviting me to be part of the Writing Process Blog Tour. I’m working on my responses and hope to post something by mid-next week!

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