In the 30 years since David Wood first published his classic David Wood Food Book, he has continued his reputation as one of Canada’s great culinary artisans. Former owner of the prestigious David Wood Food Shop in Toronto, David has spent over two decades on the West Coast cultivating acclaim for his cheese-making as well as for his unique understanding of the elemental role food plays in daily life.
Fantastic recipes like Pesto-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Risotto Milanese and Seared Salmon with Dolce Forte Sauce are more than just great meals; they help shape the character of an occasion. Sublime desserts like Raspberry and Fig Gratin, or Poached Pears with Caramel Ginger Sauce, show how fresh, everyday ingredients can be elevated with proper care and attention to detail.
Pear and Ginger Galette
This is a rustic tart, baked free-form on a cookie sheet, using a shorter and more melt-in-the-mouth pastry than might work in a conventional tart. The pears are softened in butter and sugar before baking.
7 oz (210 g) unsalted butter, divided
11⁄2 cups (360 mL) all-purpose flour
L cup (80 mL) granulated sugar
1⁄2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 egg yolk + 1 extra for glazing the pastry (optional)
2 to 3 Tbsp (30 to 45 mL) cold water
3 lb (1.4 kg) pears
1⁄2 cup (125 mL) sugar
3 Tbsp (45 mL) ginger (preserved or crystallized), chopped in small chunks
Measure 5 oz (150 g) butter and put it in the freezer, in 1 piece, for 30 minutes or more.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. In a cup, whisk the egg yolk and cold water until well blended, and set aside.
On the coarse side of a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour. Mix together with your fingers, sprinkle the egg and water over it, and mix again: it should be barely moist and quite crumbly.
Tip the pastry onto a work surface and, with the heel of your hand, smear it across the surface. It will take about 8 pushes to spread all of it. Gather it into a ball, working it gently with your hands to bring it together; add a little more water if it needs it to form a ball. Wrap it in plastic and set aside at room temperature for up to 3 hours (refrigerate if longer).
Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. With a melon baller, remove the core from each half, and trim away any hard parts around the stem and the bud with a small knife.
Melt the other 2 oz (60 g) butter (should equal about 1⁄4 cup [60 mL] once melted) and 1⁄2 cup (125mL) sugar in a large frying pan over low heat.
Cut each half-pear lengthwise into 1⁄4-inch (6 mm) slices, then add them to the frying pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the juices run and the pears are almost tender, adding water as needed to stop the sugar browning. When softened, turn up the heat to medium, add the chopped ginger, and stir gently until the juices are thick and syrupy—you only need enough juice to moisten the pears. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
On a well-floured board, roll out the pastry about 3⁄16 of an inch (5 mm) thick and 16 inches (40 cm) across—it does not matter if the circle is not round or its edges are rough. Line a baking sheet with parchment, roll the dough around your rolling pin and unroll in the centre of the paper.
Arrange the pears in the middle of the pastry, in a circle about 10 inches (25 cm) across, leaving a pastry border all around. Lift a point on the edge of the pastry up and over the pears toward the centre. Continue round the perimeter, folding the outside toward the centre, each fold covering part of the previous one. It will take 6 or 8 folds until all of the pastry has been folded in, leaving a circle of uncovered pears in the centre. You can give the pastry a nice gloss by glazing it with an egg yolk mixed with 1 Tbsp (15 mL) water.
Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. When the pastry is nicely browned, remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least30 minutes. Serve with lightly whipped cream, crème fraîche, or plain Greek yogurt (or any mixture of these).
Strawberry rhubarb galette (variation): This is a delicious alternative to the Pear and Ginger Galette, made almost the same way, except that the rhubarb needs to be cooked and drained and its syrup reduced before being mixed with the fresh strawberries. To prepare this recipe you’ll need 3⁄4 lb (340 g) rhubarb and 21⁄3 cups (580 mL) cut-up strawberries instead of the pear and ginger.
Make the pastry as described in the recipe for Pear and Ginger Galette, and set aside in a plastic bag at room temperature for 1 hour or more.
Take the rhubarb and trim any damaged bits, but be sure to keep the pink end where the stalk was attached to the root—it has the best flavour. Rinse the rhubarb under cold water and put in a stainless steel saucepan. Add 1⁄3cup (80 mL) sugar, cover with a lid, and set over the lowest heat you can—the lower the heat, the better the rhubarb will keep its shape, but the taste is the same either way. It will take 15 minutes to 2 hours until it is soft, depending on how low you can get the heat. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
When the rhubarb is cool, set it in a strainer over a bowl to catch the juice. Return the juice to the pan and, over medium heat, reduce it to 2 or 3 Tbsp (30 or 45 mL). Remove from the heat, stir in the cut-up strawberries, and set aside.
Mix all the fruit together when it has cooled to room temperature. If the mixture is sloppy, drain off some of the juice and reserve—you don’t want it to soak through the pastry. You can add back the reserved juice after baking, or serve it separately.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
Roll out the pastry, spread on the fruit filling and fold up the edges as in the recipe for Pear and Ginger Galette. Bake 25 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven; remove and allow to cool for at least 40 minutes. Serve with whipped cream, crème fraîche, or plain Greek yogurt (or any mixture thereof).
Recipe reprinted with permission from Whitecap Books.