Supposedly it’s Spring and supposedly it’s April, but baby, it’s cold outside! Last night I was in the mood for soup and since I didn’t have any bread dough with which to make a fresh loaf of bread to accompany the soup, I decided to make something I had never even heard of before–a straw potato galette.
What the heck is a galette? To me, it seemed an awful lot like a giant latke because it is made from shredded potatoes. It turns out that galette is a generic French term for any flat, round, or freeform cake, which includes various pancake-type dishes. So I guess you could say a latke is a type of galette, except that latkes seem to always be small and galettes are large.
The galette recipe I followed comes from Donia Bijan’s book, Maman’s Homesick Pie. She is an Iranian-born, French-trained chef and as she tells it, this is one of the “low-cost, one-skillet meals” she used to make in her “little room in Paris…on a two-burner range.” She suggests various fillings and names Alsatian Muenster as her favorite. I used Vermont Cheddar. I made a mistake while making mine, but one always learns from mistakes! I can’t wait to try making it again, and making it better.
The soup I made is a pumpkin soup recipe I got from a friend who got it from her mother and that is the extent of its provenance that I am aware of. It sounded delicious on paper and it certainly proved to be delicious.
To make these two dishes I grated four russet potatoes (two small and two medium) in my food processor and covered them with water to rest for twenty minutes.
While the shredded potato rested, I prepared the soup ingredients. I chopped half a yellow onion and the contents of an 8-oz container of cremini mushrooms. I heated some canola oil (3 tbs or so) in a soup pot and added the mushrooms and onion. They needed a 10-minute sautee. During that ten minutes I combined 2 tbs of flour and 1 tbs curry, boiled water for 3 cups of vegetable broth (i use Better than Bouillon), opened a can of pumpkin, and gathered my honey, nutmeg, coarse salt, pepper, and cream. The curry I used was a blend I made for dishes from my 660 Curries. Since I failed to label it, I’m not sure which one it was, but it contained cinnamon, so I figured it was a good match for this recipe.
The ten-minute sautee period coincided almost exactly with the 20-minute potato soak. At the end of the ten minutes, I added the flour and curry mix to the soup and stirred it in well, followed by the broth. After a minute or so, I added the pumpkin, a dash of nutmeg, 1 tsp of salt and some ground pepper.
While the soup came to a simmer, I rinsed and dried the potato shreds. I heated way too much oil in my skillet because I misread the recipe. You don’t need very much. Bijan uses butter and olive oil but I used canola and olive oil. Then you add 3/4 of the potatoes to the pan and pat them down with a spatula. Let them sizzle and brown up, shaking the pan to keep the galette loose.
When it is browning sufficiently underneath, salt and pepper the galette and shake some nutmeg on there. Add the cheese of your choice or whatever savory yummy thing you want in there. Then add the rest of the potatoes on top and pat them down. Let the top layer consolidate a little and then try your best to flip it without wrecking it. I used two spatulas to accomplish this and it was not quite the disaster I expected, but I think will work better next time when I use less oil. Let it brown on the bottom and then you are done. Remove it from the pan and slice it up and get ready to EAT IT. omg it was delicious.
To finish cooking the soup, I added my cream slowly while the galette was browning up and stirred it in well. The recipe I was using called for half-and-half, which I shouldn’t have. I had heavy cream (no lactose!) on hand and didn’t think ahead to figure out how to use coconut milk as a replacement, so I went with the heavy cream and eyeballed it to figure out how much to add. I turned the heat down before adding the cream and added it and stirred to mix and warm it without letting it come to a boil. Everything was pretty much done at the same time.
It was a very tasty and satisfying meal and I will be making these again, definitely!