31 August 2014

Sour Cherry Galette with Almond-Mahlab Filling

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It is the last weekend in August and, if social media is any clue, everyone I know is lounging on a beach, or sailing around an island, or hiking somewhere scenic, while I'm pounding the paths of the concrete jungle. Thankfully, in Chicago, I can wander over to the lakefront on a cloudy Friday afternoon, where you can sit and read a book with the seagulls and the cyclists and almost forget that you're in a city altogether.

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I also got to have brunch with a really cute 2 month-old baby and have the most amazing sushi meal I've had in a long time (ever?). We have been painting and fixing up around our apartment, a seemingly never-ending task of sanding and caulking and repeated trips to the hardware store. We have listened to a LOT of podcasts in the meantime, and, having exhausted my usual suspects, I found a new podcast called the Dinner Party Download. It is awesome and you should add it to you regular rotation.

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Also on the list this week:
      -- Radio Diaries: A Guitar and Cellist
      -- A moloukhiya schism?!
      -- You should be cooking to the latest Kishi Bashi album. Preferably while drinking a Kentucky Peach Barrel Wheat Ale.
      -- Good Food had a great interview with the Bautista Date Farm. Learn more about date varieties, like my favorite barhi dates, and order some, at their website.
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Today we're talking about this sour cherry galette that I made back when sour cherries were in the farmer's market for their brief two-week run. If you're like me, you bought a gallon of those sour cherries and pitted and froze them to use year round. If not, well, I'm terribly terribly sorry.
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For the sour cherries that I did not freeze, I made a galette with them. (I was just about to write "simple galette," but who am I kidding, we've got a mahlab scented layer and a rye crust!) Cherries and almonds are botanically related, and the Middle Eastern spice mahlab is made form a variety of sour cherry pit. Based on the old adage, "what grows together goes together," I thought I'd play around with these flavors in the galette - sour cherries, almonds, mahlab. They are almost always a winning combination.

Despite the seemingly complex title, this recipe is actually really simple. Really! If you don't have any mahlab on hand, don't sweat it. You can substitute some cinnamon or simply omit it. Did you get any sour cherries this year? If so, what are you making?  Happy long weekend everyone!
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Sour Cherry Galette with Almond-Mahlab Filling
You can make this with regular cherries, it just won't have that tart tang to it. If using regular cherries reduce the sugar to 1/3 cup. For extra credit, you can always brush a beaten egg over the crust before baking.

1 regular pie crust or 1 rye pie crust (I used half of this recipe)

2 heaping cups sour cherries
2/3 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1 tablespoon cornstarch

almond layer:
5 mahlab pits
1/2 a tube almond paste (4 oz)
1 egg
pinch of salt

1. Prepare your pie crust and chill it.
2. Preheat oven to 350 F.
3. Toss the cherries with sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Let macerate.
4. Crush the mahlab pits in a mortar and pestle. In a bowl, smash up the almond paste with a fork. Add the egg and mahlab and salt and mix into the almond paste until the mix is relatively homogenous.
5. Roll out your pie crust and place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Spread the almond paste in a circle in the center of your crust.
4. Spoon the cherries over the almond layer. If there is a lot of accumulated juice in the bowl, leave it behind and discard it. I add a little of the juice to the galette, but you don't want to drown it.
5. Fold up the edges of the dough around the filling to form a galette. Sprinkle sugar all over the top.
6. Transfer to the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bubbly and the crust is firm and hollow-sounding when tapped. Let cool slightly before eating.

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