prithi gowda

In The Kitchen With: Alice Waters

prithi gowda
In The Kitchen With: Alice Waters

I had the incredible opportunity to spend three inspiring days with Alice Waters and her Chez Panisse team cooking, eating and discovering at Blackberry Farm. I wanted to share two of the recipes that were demonstrated and talk briefly about the impact Waters’ has had on me and my approach to cooking.
In my opinion, the most beautiful food is the kind that delicately enhances the natural beauty and subtleties of fresh produce. It is about highlighting,not masking. There is an incredibly amount of elegance in simplicity, and that is precisely how Waters’ and her Chez Panisse team approach cooking. Waters’ food is revelatory in its purest form of simplicity. She highlights produce and extracts bold flavors to evoke feelings and create food that is unlike any other. Not because of twenty ingredient sauces or eighteen step dishes, but because of a deep care and profound knowledge of seasons and preparations. Chez Panisse is a different breed of restaurant. The environment and food served is a testament to the love and connection the chefs there have with cooking, the kitchen and one another. Waters’ passion for food is contagious and her glowing warmth is translated beautifully into every one of her dishes and stories. The remarkably kind and talented chefs who work alongside Waters’ at Panisse are just as impressive. They have such a strong love for food and an incredibly deep understanding. Hearing them talk about the dishes they prepare at the restaurant and the beautiful ingredients they are given to work with made me want to hop on the first plane to Berkely and offer up my services, even if it means shelling fava beans all day.
As a young woman embarking on a path in the culinary field, in an age of molecular gastronomy, it was invaluable to listen to Alice talk about how far cooking real, simple food can take you.
Thank you, Alice.

Rhubarb Galette:

For the dough:

  • 2 cups unbleached flour
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 7 tablespoons ice water

Combine flour, sugar and salt in a large mixing bowl
Cut 4 tablespoons of butter into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until the dough resembles coarse cornmeal.

Cut in the remaining butter with pastry blender until the biggest pieces are the size of large peas.
Dribble 7 tablespoons of ice water into flour mixture in several stages, tossing and mixing in between until the dough holds together.

Toss mixture with your hands, letting it fall through your fingers. Do not pinch or squeeze the dough or you will overwork it. Keep tossing until it starts to pull together. If it looks like there are too many dry patches add another tablespoon of water.

Divide dough in half and firmly press each half into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, pressing down to flatten each ball into a 4-inch disk. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.
When you are ready to roll out the dough, let it soften slightly so that its malleable but still cold.
Unwrap the dough and press the edges so there are no cracks.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out disk into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Brush off excess flour and transfer dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour.

For Galette:

  • 10 ounces galette dough rolled into a 14-inch circle
  • 1 1/2 pounds rhubarb
  • 1 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup almond-amoretti powder (ground up amoretti cookies)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Butter a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper.

Rinse the rhubarb quickly under cold water and wipe dry. Trim and discard every leaf and trim off and reserve the tough inch or so at the bottom of each stalk. Cut lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick strips and crosswise into 3-inch pieces. Toss the rhubarb with 1/4 sugar and the flower in a nonreactive mixing bowl.

Sprinkle almond-amoretti powder evenly over pastry, leaving 1 1/2 inch border un-sprinkled.
Put the rhubarb pieces on top; the mound of fruit will be several inches high. Arrange the top layer of rhubarb in a whimsical pattern.

While rotating the tart, fold the border of expose dough up and over itself at regular intervals, crimping and pushing it up against the outer circle of fruit, creating a containing rim that resembles the length of rope. Pinch off any excess dough. This rim must act as a dam, preventing juices from escaping while cooking so make sure there are no folds or wrinkles that would permit such a breach. Brush the border gently with melted butter and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake in the center of the oven for about 45 minutes. Rotate the galette after about 15 minutes and push down the rhubarb with a spatula to flatten it. Rotate again after 15 more minutes to ensure even baking.

When Galette is done, remove from oven and slide it directly onto a rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.

While galette is baking, make a glaze by boiling the reserved rhubarb butt ends with 1 cup sugar and a splash of water until they are soft. Strain and brush lightly over the baked galette.

Tamarind and Kohlrabi Soup

  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, butter or ghee
  • 2 tablespoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 pound kohlrabi or butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken broth or water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/2 rice flour, diluted into 2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 2 tablespoons grape molasses
  • 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy-based medium sized saucepan over medium heat until very hot. Add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds and cook for 10 seconds until aromatic or the seeds stop crackling (keep a lid handy to stop the seeds from flying out) Add the onion and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the curry powder, chili, kohlrabi and red lentils and stir-fry for another minute. Add 6 cups broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes until kohlrabi is tender. Add more broth if needed.

Use a hand held mixer to partially puree the soup. Add the coconut milk, diluted rice flour tamarind and grape molasses and stir constantly. Bring back to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Adjust seasoning to taste.

Image Courtesy of Blackberry Farm, Sarah Rau