Friday, October 9, 2009

A New Spice for Fall

{Garam Masala-Spiced Plum Galettes}

I've had these enormous, rock-hard plums supposedly ripening in the kitchen since last Saturday when I was peer-pressured into buying what I was told might be the last plums of the season. The thought of no more plums for nine months inspired me to buy three pounds of the stuff, but after a week of sitting out they were still curiously geode-like and inedible. On the other end of the spectrum I had a few delicious organic pears that had long since passed the zenith of ripeness. And so. Time for action.

Last night P. had his bff from his recent combat tour over for dinner. I am constantly surprised and amazed by his friends in the Marine Corps; this fella has more degrees than I have spatulas, speaks fluent French, Farsi, Arabic and he taught himself Spanish. He's a JAG lawyer for the Marine Corps and yes, he travels exclusively by motorcycle. But beneath the tough-guy facade he and P. are both nerdle-the-turtles and formed a wonderful friendship in Iraq over their shared hope for the fledgling Obama administration, discussions spurred by David Brooks's op-eds for the New York Times, and their love of a good puff pastry. Yes, these Marines love a good puff pastry, preferably "in autumn, with stone fruit."

This is where the stories come together, o patient ones. I thought I'd try to make use of those end-of-the-season plums by baking them in a tart but didn't have time to make pastry dough. Enter, stage right: Pepperidge Farm puff pastry dough. But these plums are hard and bitter! Enter, stage left: the soft, mellow pears. But still a little boring! From the back of the theatre, the surprise of the night: a peppering of exotic, intoxicating garam masala spices.

Garam is Hindi for "hot" and malasa means "mixture." Not hot as in chile pepper-hot, hot as in the intensity of the combined spices. Used in all manner of traditional Indian dishes, garam masala is a blend of cumin, cardamom, star anise, coriander, sweet peppercorns, nutmet and cinnamon, among other spices. It's basically the greatest hits from your spice cabinet. If the Yucca Valley Stater Bros. carries garam masala I bet you can find some where you live, and you should. Because the earthy, musky sweetness compliments the fruit in a way that will make you want to eat this petite galette with your hands straight out of the oven, then morselize every spec of bronze flaky crust off the cutting board.  It's rustic, unfussy, and absolutely delicious.

{Again, you can't mess this up. Measurements are merely suggestions.}
Makes invidiual galettes for four people or two and a half Marines

Place rack at bottom of oven and preheat to 350. Allow frozen puff pastry dough to thaw until workable, about 25 mins.

In large bowl mix five or six cut-up plums &/or pears and add:
Juice of 1 small lemon
2 teaspoons of brown sugar
Several generous dashes of garam masala
A few pinches of flour
(A pinch of cornstarch if you're fruit is very juicy)

On a lightly floured surface: place a glass bowl about 5 or 6" in diameter on the dough and trace with a knife to cut circles of pastry.  Pinch around the edge to create a nest for the fruit. (I then placed the pastry nests inside little glass and ceramic ramekins but you can make true galettes by just placing the nests on a flat cookie sheet.) Either way, fill pastry nests with fruit mixture, making sure the fruit won't spill over the sides of the galette. Bake for around 35 mins, or until the pastry has puffed, turned golden and the fruit has softened and candied slightly on top.

Serve with cardamom whipped cream or ice cream and a bit of mint. You will have happy guests. You will have an especially happy YOU when you get to eat the secret galette you hid for next morning's breakfast, like yours truly. 

HAPPY WEEKEND! The art I promised this week will have to wait until next week; just too much wonderful food! xoxo


  1. Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog! Your photography of this beautiful dessert is fantastic! I have a good friend visiting from out of town this weekend - THIS will be our dessert!

  2. OK, you have me salivating. I eally want to eat these lovely galettes! They look and sound divine, so now I want to smell, and more importantly, taste them!

    What a treat it is to visit you here. xo Gigi

  3. hi lily!
    tee hee ... i got quite a good giggle reading those first few lines about being 'pressured' into buying those plums ... i've done exactly the same darn thing ... only to watch them become a fruit fly feast! grrr, i vow never again ... well, until the next time!
    but of course, your whole posting was written so wonderfully with warm wit ... LOVED it! (nerdle-the-turtles ~ grinning!)
    anyways, down to the last bit of your scrumptious galette ... those spices ... oh your house must have smelled so good ... thanks for sharing the recipe! truth be known i've never made a pie, but galettes are my pastry specialty ... and if i see any of those plums in the store tomorrow, i'll know their destiny!
    say ... thanks so much for coming by ... i really love what you are doing and need to spend more time here cuz there is so much to see and comment on!
    oh! i see gigi is here ... she is a true gem ...
    cheerio for now my friend,
    prairiegirl xo

  4. I grew up with a purple plum tree in my yard - love plums! This looks delicious. Thanks for stopping by my blog. :)

  5. mmm looks divine. Im eating rhubarb and pear crumble (Cinnamon and ginger spiced)at this very minute (afternoon tea) left over from last night.

  6. good heavens, i can't believe you used garam masala for this! :-D but i know that the strangest combinations produce the most wonderful results in cooking.
    btw, in australia the garam masala i used was white in colour and a bit too bland for me, here it is red in colour due to lots of hot chilli powder!

  7. Oh to be a little mouse in your kitchen



  8. this looks soooooooo yummy. my fave part are the crumbs and the " two and a half marines". hugs and kisses to you! xo

  9. Hi Lily!

    Once again your culinary skills leave me feeling quite inadequate! Lovely post.

  10. So. Lovely.

    We may have to chat about your plates. I might need to borrow them.


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