Liberty. Equality. Fraternity! Today is Bastille Day, France's counterpart to Independence Day. We have much for which to thank the French, including their support of the United State's bid for independence, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, the Statue of Liberty and, oh, yes, the food, the food, the food. I hope I mentioned the food.
Their genius with leftovers is remarkable. It seems anything can be mixed with cheese, eggs and/or milk and put into pastry, topped with pastry or wrapped in a crepe to produce a meal of Epicurean register.
Of course, pastry can be a sticking point for persons with celiac disease, who cannot have the protein gluten found in wheat, rye and barley. There are no classic recipes that do not use wheat flour. However, adaptations can be made which are, in some cases, deliciously undetectable to the confirmed consumer of wheat products.
Today's recipe is for galette, a rustic type of tart with a little crunch to the crust, contributed by cornmeal. This crust is flaky, easy to make and stores nicely in the freezer.
Galettes can be large or sized for individual servings. They can be filled with savory items (caramelized onions and mashed potatoes, fennel sausage and fennel, winter squash and wild mushrooms, summer squash and cheese, etc., etc., etc.) or filled with fruits and nuts for amazing desserts.
Here is my gluten-free adaptation of a recipe from Julia Child - because, what could be more French than a Julia Child recipe - made in individual servings for a picnic.
3 tablespoons sour cream
1⁄3 cup ice water
1⁄3 cup brown rice flour
1⁄3 cup tapioca flour
1⁄3 cup potato starch
1⁄4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoon cold, unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
(I have made this successfully with "sour cream" made from tofu and with canola margarine in place of butter for a dairy-free version.)
Mix the sour cream and ice water together in a bowl and set it aside. In a larger bowl, mix the brown rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, cornmeal, sugar and salt. Blend in the butter with a pastry cutter until the dough has clumps the size of a pea and smaller. Stir in the sour cream/water mixture until the dough forms soft lumps. This dough can also be made in a food processor.
With rice-floured hands, divide the dough in half and store each half in a rice-floured plastic wrap in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or as long as overnight.
Cheese and Tomato Galette
makes 2 to 4 servings
1⁄2 recipe galette dough
2 ounce Fontina or jack cheese, shredded
2 ounce fresh mozzarella, shredded
1⁄4 cup fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 to 3 firm, ripe plum or Roma tomatoes, cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Egg wash (1 egg plus 1 teaspoon water, beaten together well)
Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling it out. If it crumbles, it's not warm enough to roll. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On separate sheets of heavily rice-floured (the dough is very sticky) parchment paper, and using a rice-floured rolling pin, roll each piece out into a circle that is about 1⁄8 inch thick.
Toss the cheeses, strips of basil and chopped garlic together in a bowl and place 1⁄4 of the mixture on the centers of the pastry circles, leaving a pastry border of 1 to 11⁄2 inches. Arrange an equal number of tomato slices on each galette, salt and pepper to taste, and fold the edges of the pastry toward the center of the galette. The edges will pleat, making a nice presentation.
Slide a spatula carefully under the parchment paper and transport each galette, still on the parchment paper, to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the exposed dough with egg wash.
Bake the galettes for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden.
Cool on the baking sheet, on a cooling rack, for 20 minutes, then take a spatula and carefully place each galette on the cooling rack. Galettes can be served warm or at room temperature, but they should be eaten the same day that they are made.
To serve, sprinkle galettes with chopped fresh basil leaves.
Good news for the gluten-free: City Cafe and Bakery in Carson City (701 So. Carson) now serves gluten-free pizza on Fridays, in addition to their gluten-free sandwiches, breads and other pastry treats. The word is that it is quite tasty. The pizza is available from noon until it runs out, but whole pizzas can also be ordered with some advance notice.
In Reno, a dedicated gluten-free bakery, Haven on Earth, has opened at 10855 Double R Boulevard (at Damonte.) They have a plethora of gluten-free breads and baked goods and have recently begun serving lunches of soup, salads, sandwiches and pizza. I had such a good time checking out the Haven, I felt like a kid in a candy store.
Have a wonderful summer!
• Susan Hart has been cooking gluten-free for 15 years. She teaches continuing education classes in gluten-free baking at Truckee Meadows Community College and can be reached at email@example.com.