I was stopped while shopping at the supermarket, a lovely lady who follows me on Instagram accosted me.
“You’re Nava, from Nava’s kitchen! I really admire your work, I’m not much of a cook but I love reading your stories and looking at your videos and pictures.”
“Thank you very much,” I replied, touched by the compliment.
“You must be so meticulous and organised, and you must have so much patience! I imagine you using tweezers to place all the pretty petals in the right place when you decorate your cakes…”
Say WHAT??? Did she say organised? Patience? And I use tweezers?? The only time I use those instruments of torture is to pluck my eyebrows but I rarely do that because I don’t have patients! I won’t be posting any of the results of those exercises, I can tell you. It’s not pretty.
My husband calls me Madam Balagan Jnr (Balagan is Hebrew for chaos/mess) and the nickname is sadly true. It’s in my genetic makeup, my mum – the original Madam Balagan – is the same. I am hoping modern technology will be able to obliterate these genes among others (but that’s a topic for a therapist).
Far from a tweezer wielding perfectionist, when I am in the kitchen it’s like I’m a possessed, mad scientist in the body of a whirling dervish. I am impulsive and often come up with recipes on the fly, this savoury pear galette is the perfect example.
I was at the supermarket, shopping for dinner ingredients when I saw one of those Large, fancy shamancy double creamy, wheels of brie on super special for half price. Being unable to resist a bargain I had to buy it. But what do I do with it? What am I going to do with this Brie? What? What? What? Suddenly this became the most important question: even more important than why am I so obsessive and impulsive… I know, I can make a Gallett! I can pair it up with a fruit – pair it with a pear in fact, maybe a pair of pears (let’s face it, who doesn’t like a good pair and a pun). Should I put it in a bun. No focus, Nava. It’ll be a fruit and brie Gallet. Hannes would love that (he’s one of my stepsons). I can make it now and perfect it for when we visit for Easter… While driving home, my left foot was hurting because I had tied my shoe laces too tight. So, at the red traffic lights I quickly removed my left shoe, I got home, parked the car, left my shoe in the car and raced upstairs. Limping all over the kitchen like Quasimodo from the hunchback of Notre Dame, opening and closing cabinet doors hoping inspiration would be lurching behind one of them, looking for the right ingredients to speak to me. While I waited for a condiment or spice to shout ‘pick me!’ I pondered how big should the galette be, before that consideration was crowded out by the sudden need to work out what I would use for the photo shoot. Nuts! Nuts!, Yes, I’m nuts, but what kind I should use in the dish? That was the question? And what nuts? Indeed, to use nuts or not to use nuts? THAT, is the question, for the moment at least. I bet you caramelised onions will go really well. Inspiration, no question there. A command from the food gods! So I start to look for onions, while dipping sliced pears into different spices to see which ones go best with pears, sometimes not paying attention to what I dipped the pears into because my mind is racing at a million miles an hour… All the while the awareness that I am still hobbling about on one shoe is lurking in the back of my mind but it can’t compete with these much more urgent concerns. It’s relegated to that part of my consciousness where my husband’s daily (if not hourly) reminders to make sure I drink something in the heat and stay hydrated.
Let me put it that way if you had to draw a graph of me working in the kitchen it would look like a kid’s drawing of spaghetti more than anything resembling an actual graph. Methodical? Meticulous? Moi? Actually, no. Still, that will be just our little secret, right? Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to take off my other shoe.
As for this Galette, it’s truly scrumptious with its puff pastry baked to a golden brown perfection, boasting a harmonious blend of sweet and savoury. Layers of roasted pears and melted brie intertwined in a sonata of flavours, offering a divine marriage of sweetness and creaminess. Chopped hazelnuts do a happy dance on top of the tender fillings, providing a satisfying crunch, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar gives it the final touch that tie sit all together.
My secret hack
place the pastry sheet on top of the pie tin for defrosting. As it gradually thaws, it gracefully conforms to the tin's contours, requiring only gentle pressing for a snug fit.
Pre- bake your pastry for perfect crispness
Avoid a soggy bottom by pre-baking your pastry. This crucial step guarantees a uniformly flaky and crispy texture
Pricking prevents puffing
Stop your pastry from puffing by pricking your pastry with a fork or skewer before baking. Do a quick check after 10 minutes in the oven, if it puffed up, remove from the oven and deflate by giving it a few pricks and return to the oven.
Maintain oven heat
Keep your oven running between batches. After removing trays, allow a 10-minute window before reuse. Avoid turning off the oven during this interval to maintan
optimal baking temperature and consistency.
While the natural sweetness of pears sufficed, the tartness of balsamic vinegar may require balancing with a touch of honey.
Tailor the richness of your Galette by adjusting the quantity of the Brie to your preference.
I used half the Brie as it was the perfect amount of richness for me.
I used the other half for another delectable dish, so stay tuned….
Baking Time and Temperature
Please note that the suggested temperature and baking duration are based on my oven's performance. It's essential to adjust these parameters according to your oven's heat for best results.
1 sheet puff pastry, frozen
3 large pears
½ -1 whole wheel of large wheel of Brie depending on how creamy you like it. (I used a half)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tsp honey (optional)
1/3 tsp cardamom
1/3 tsp cumin
1/3 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper crushed
1 tsp salt
Handful fresh Rosemary stalks
Handful Hazelnuts roughly chopped
Table spoon freshThyme, leaves only
Balsamic vinegar to taste
Preheat the oven to 200°C (392°F).
Slice the pears into semi-thin slices, in any preferred shape, remove pips, transfer to a bowl and toss them with olive oil, spices, salt, and pepper.
Line a shallow baking tray with baking paper and arrange the seasoned pears evenly on it. Scatter rosemary stalks over the pears.
Bake the pears in the preheated oven for approximately 20 minutes or until they are semi-soft. Once done, set the pear tray aside, but keep the oven on.
Grease a 22cm loose-bottomed pie tin with butter. Place the frozen pastry sheet on top of the pie tin. As the pastry begins to soften, gently press it into the tin, allowing some pastry to hang over the edges. Trim the excess pastry and use the trimmings to fill in any gaps.
Prick the pastry all over with a fork or skewer. Whisk the egg and brush the pastry with the egg wash thoroughly.
Place the pastry in the oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until golden. Check after 10 minutes to ensure the pastry hasn't puffed up. If it has, prick it a few more times to deflate it.
Once golden, remove the pastry from the oven. Discard the rosemary and cut the cold Brie into squares.
Begin assembling your Galette by layering the pears on top of the pastry, followed by a layer of chopped Brie. Repeat until all the pears and Brie are used.
Drizzle honey over the Galette and scatter the hazelnuts on top.
Return the Galette to the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until all the cheese has melted, and the pears are soft.
Remove the Galette from the oven, sprinkle thyme leaves over it, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and enjoy.