Nectarine & plum galette, and being remembered

by Jeanne on October 18, 2011

in Baking (sweet), Dessert

Post image for Nectarine & plum galette, and being remembered

 

Have you ever had the experience of meeting somebody and within minutes of parting thinking “what an amazing person- I want to see them again”?  I don’t mean that heady feeling of a romantic connection with your heart all a-flutter and everything seen through rose-coloured spectacles – I mean in a totally non-romantic context.  Of course, the opposite is also true, and after spending only an hour or two in somebody’s company you  may be glancing wildly around for the exit and praying you never have the misfortune of having to be trapped in a room with them again!  But there are definitely people you meet who make an almost instantly appealing impression, and more often than not they will have this effect on almost everybody they meet.  So what’s the secret?  I’ve been pondering what it is that makes me remember some people with affection and admiration and others not.

One of the characteristics that instantly attracts me to somebody is kindness.  If I go for lunch with somebody who is rude to waitstaff, receptionists and other “unimportant” people, I instantly assume that they are the same kind of people who hit their dogs and barge little old ladies out of the way to get a seat on the train.  But (as I recently did) I go to lunch with somebody who is unfailingly polite and friendly to waitstaff, I feel nothing but admiration (and they get better service too!). Most people are also instantly attracted to somebody who has a sense of humour – smart and witty, not bitchily funny at other people’s expense.  Making people laugh is an invaluable social skill and requires a degree of ability to read your audience, which in turn implies a degree of emotional intelligence – all good stuff. And I’m pretty sure everybody would agree that somebody who seems genuinely interested in other people will always be remembered with more fondness than somebody who shouts everybody down in an effort to tell THEIR story rather than listen to anybody else’s.

 

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It seems that at this time of year with the turning of the seasons, my mind always returns to this question:  how are we remembered?  Part of the reason is the natural melancholy and introspection that accompanies the end of summer; but part of it is that I lost my mom in the Autumn.  Tomorrow it will be eight long years.  And I know I am not the only one who remembers her – I often speak to friends and her ex-students of colleagues who remember her and I am always amazed at the variety of stories they tell and breadth of the memories they treasure.  One ex-colleague told me how my mom had taken over the radiography department at her hospital in the 1960s and immediately mixed up all the carefully segregated teacups for white and non-white radiographers, saying “this is ridiculous – we are all colleagues!”.  “She gave us back our dignity”, the colleague told me later. A school friend remembers my mom as having a fierce intelligence which both scared and mesmerised her; while other friends of mine remember her best for her famous chicken curry and her chocolate mousse.  A lecturing colleague and fellow-language fanatic tells me she still misses my mom’s ability to quote reams of poetry with perfect accuracy. Many of her ex-students say she literally changed their lives, treating each one as if they had the potential to change the world, even when they were failing courses and bunking classes.

As for me, I remember her as having one of the most incisive minds and one of the sharpest tongues I have ever experienced.  I remember her for her sometimes totally infuriating intellectual snobbism. I remember her advice to treat adults as children and children as adults in order to keep everybody happy.  I remember her love for jewellery and clothes and our monumental shopping trips together.  I remember her for the tremendous courage and humour with which she faced the prospect of dialysis and all the indignities that renal failure brought over the course of 8 years. I remember her for her encyclopaedic knowledge of classical music and English literature; for her love of Stephen King novels and cheerful embracing of cathartic swearing at a time when my friends’ mothers simply did not swear; for her perfume (always Calêche); for her Ferragamo shoes; and for her obsession with Georg Jensen tableware.  I wonder if these are all things for which she wanted to be remembered; and I wonder what people will remember about me.

 

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I hope they remember coming to my house for lunch and leaving at midnight, replete with good wine and good company.  I hope they remember that I made them laugh till their cheeks ached.  And I hope they remember the simple delights of this galette.  It was meant to be a “last gasp of summer” dessert with nectarines and cherries, but alas, no cherries were to be had.  So I substituted plums for the cherries  and this was the result.  One lunch guest who tried it said that what she liked about it was that “it actually tastes of fruit!”, as opposed to sugar – which was the look I was going for :)  You can make the pastry the day before – just take it out of the fridge about 30 mins before rolling it out. And you can try different nuts in the filling – almonds, pistachios or hazelnuts.

 

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NECTARINE AND PLUM GALETTE (serves 8) 

Ingredients:

FOR THE PASTRY:

250g plain flour
150g butter, cubed
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1-3 Tbsp iced water (added one at a time – stop when dough forms a ball)

FOR THE FILLING:

50g ground pecan nuts (or nuts of your choice)
30g soft brown sugar
500g plums, stoned and cut into 1/8th wedges
400g nectarines, stoned and cut into 1/8th wedges
40g granulated sugar
icing sugar to serve (optional)

Method:

To make the pastry, either blitz together the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor or rub the butter into the flour and sugar mixture in a large bowl, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Mix the yolk with the water and add that to the mixing bowl.  Mix again with the food processor or by hand until the dough comes together in a ball. Scrape out of the bowl, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for a few hours.

When you are ready to make the galette, remove the dough from the fridge about 20-30 minutes before you want to roll it.  Pre-heat the oven to 190C.

Roll the pastry into a circle about 24cm across and 2.5mm thick. Place this circle on to a metal baking sheet covered with baking paper . Mix the ground nuts and soft brown sugar and sprinkle over the pastry, leaving a rim of about 4cm all the way round.  Pile the fruit on top of the nut mixture – no need to be tidy about this! Sprinkle the granulated sugar over the fruit. Pull up the rim of the pastry and fold it over the edge of the fruit all the way round so that it seals in the filling (you may have to pinch bits together to secure).

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, until the pastry is turning golden and the fruit slightly caramelised. Allow to cool before serving: the caramelly sugar, nut and fruit mix will firm up as it cools – hot out of the oven, it will be a messy affair!  If desired, sift over a light dusting of icing sugar once cooled.  Serve with whipped cream with just a touch of Amaretto in it.

 

And with less than 10 days to go until the next From Plate to Page workshop kicks off in Tuscany, we are busy finalising menus and putting the finishing touches to our presentations and workshops.  We are also about to announce a couple of exciting new sponsors – and stay tuned next week when we announce the fabulous venue for Plate to Page 2012 – in the UK!   

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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

SMITH BITES October 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm

i shall remember you for your laughter Jeanne (or how i imagine you laughing as we’ve not met in real life . . . yet), for your kindness, for your sharp wit, you intelligence, your grace, your beautiful photography, your luscious recipes and for your grace. i shall remember you as being generous as well as many other genuine qualities Jeanne . . . your mama raised a wonderful daughter . . . (((hugs))) to you this season . . .

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Kavey October 19, 2011 at 7:51 am

If we are remembered with half as much affection as your mother is, we shall be fortunate indeed.
x

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ninatimm October 19, 2011 at 8:08 am

I did not know your mom, but I know you and from all the beautiful things I read about her, you are going to be remembered for many of those exact things. It is a pleasure knowing you.

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Angela October 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

What a lovely post and a wonderful way of sharing your memories with others. Mums are very very special people and incredibly hard to lose. I’m sure your mum would love to read what you’ve posted here.

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Jamie October 19, 2011 at 9:30 am

Jeanne, what a wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful, moving post. How I would have loved to meet your mom. But she would be proud of you because you obviously have inherited many of her traits. I won’t say how I’ll remember you because we still have many long years together ahead of us but, yes, the wild fun, the weekends at your house, the jokes and laughters but your cleverness, your courage, your intelligence and your beautiful, inspirational writing. For starts. And I love a great plum galette.

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Denise @ TLT October 19, 2011 at 9:45 am

This post truly touched me. Your mom sounds like a very special woman and it’s beautiful she’s remembered in that way. I think it’s good to think about how we want to be remembered now and then, because it gives us perspective and reminds us of what’s really important in life.

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Móna Wise October 19, 2011 at 9:46 am

Oh Jeanne,
How sentimental. I hate how you even wonder ‘how’ people will remember you. Almost like you are ill and dying………you are not, are you?
I tried to leave this comment last night but a cold laptop and slow internet speed kept kicking me out so I lidded it and went to bed.
You will be remembered for your infectious laugh and your sparkling eyes. How could anyone forget meeting a person that lit up a room belting out the lyrics to every Abba song known, and possible a few unknown too. Unforgettable too would be the way a simple sentence could we twisted into a dirty joke with nothing more than a slight smile and wink of an eye or the way you make someone work in a workshop but they walk away feeling like the did not actually work…..they had fun. I could go on all day – but have only met you briefly for one weekend. Imagine how those that know you a lifetime would describe you xxx

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meeta October 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

Cherished memories are always worth gold. I never met your mum but from all the things you have told me and from having had the pleasure of meeting her daughter I think she must have been an awesome lady. Glad I have the opportunity to make our own memories with you. Hang in there!

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Móna Wise October 19, 2011 at 9:56 am

Oh – and I forgot to say – your pastry looks amazing. I know you mentioned you could ‘do’ either – but did you make this by hand or did you use
the mixer/food processor? It looks amazing…..and I love Plums. The End.

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Colleen October 19, 2011 at 10:07 am

What a beautiful, poignant, moving and memorable post….and recipe! There are so many ways that I would remember you darlin girl…too many to post here. But one that stand out and touches my heart that I will mention….your caring and compassionate nature! You are a precious treasure in our lives and Don and I love you undendingly! You have brought a lot of joy into our lives and it is an honour to know you and be associated with you. The way you write about your mom brings a big lump into my throat. She sounds like she was just as amazing as you are…xxx

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Ash October 19, 2011 at 10:16 am

I liked your stories about your mom Jeanne, she sounds like such a lovely person. I also sit and wonder about what people will remember me for when I’m gone and I hope that they remember lots of lovely food! You have such a nice way of writing, it’s so honest and clear, especially in comparison to all the market-ese and other ridiculously dressed up and insincere ways of writing out there! Thanks for this, and I will try your galette! :)

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johanna October 19, 2011 at 11:05 am

I hope one day Caro will remember me as fondly as you remember your mum… I already have the Ferragamo shoes, if that helps?
I am gutted I didn’t get a chance to meet her, but I love all the little tidbits you have been sharing with me over the years… and very soon i will see where she raised you, it’ll add another great dimension to the picture!
Chin up for tomorrow, only good thoughts!

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Alex October 19, 2011 at 11:08 am

Love it – you have such a great way with words of sentiment. You will be remembered fondly by all who cross your path my friend!

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Baker Street October 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Oh Jeanne! What a heartfelt post!
The galette looks sinfully delicious. the buttery pastry and caramelized fruit makes for a perfect dessert on any given day.

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Elizabeth October 19, 2011 at 2:22 pm

This is lovely, Jeanne. Even though I have never met your mother, now I feel that I have. She sounds like a wonderful person.
And this galette looks fabulous. Plums are just made to go into pastry, aren’t they?

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Sukaina October 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm

What a lovely and heartfelt post Jeanne. I am sure your Mom is a very happy bunny wherever she is knowing that you have such warm memories of her as. She seems to have touched many people in her life. Your galette looks rustic- just what I’d like to see for dessert after a heavy meal.

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Kayla @ La Cucina Del Bargello October 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

You had me at plum. What a great fall dessert. I’m super stoked to try it!

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Eggs on the Roof October 19, 2011 at 7:23 pm

This made me feel a huge sense of solidarity and empathy. My mum died 7 years ago tomorrow. Amongst a million other things, I remember staggeringly high heels, Mitsuko perfume, laughter, generosity and joie de vivre. I will raise a glass of champagne to you and your mum tonight. I know you miss her terribly, but that of course is the price we pay for having had wonderful mothers. Lots of love xx

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Marisa October 20, 2011 at 8:03 am

Beautiful galette Jeanne and what a fantastic tribute to your mom – she sounds like a fantastic lady! PS: Now I know why you’re called Sweary Spice – must be in the genes. ;-)

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Ishay October 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

Your amazing Mom – here’s to her. And to you, for the wonderful tribute you’ve written to honour her. How can they say the people we lose are not around anymore, even if you’re not a spiritual sort? Your Mom is around, in your smile, your words, your galette. Bet she’s extremely proud of you. Oh, and I am with you re kind, humourous people. The brash and self-centred have their place though- if only to remind us to be a little kinder, to take a little more time with others. Luscious looking galette that.

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Ali October 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm

I’ve once met somebody with whom after parting ways wished the moment could be re-lived again, we all have that person :) The nectarine and plum galette looks so scrumptious

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Simone October 21, 2011 at 4:28 pm

I wonder the same thing often; how I can sometimes connect to another person instantly, chatting away as if we’ve known eachother for years and then the next time I meet another person I have absolutely no idea what to say to them… Weird how the chemistry between people seems to work. Yes it’s also their behavior towards others but sometimes there is no apparent reason for a like or dislike…
I’m sure that the memories anyone would have of you Jeanne, whenever that faraway time comes, will be with nothing but fondness, love and respect!
And that galette looks just totally awesome!

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Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen October 25, 2011 at 8:57 am

“treat adults as children and children as adults in order to keep everybody happy” – now that is brilliant advice! And quite effective I’m sure. lol

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Bop da November 5, 2011 at 8:42 am

I remember it was a few months before I started blogging, when I bought, ate, and cooked with plums for the first time. It was awesome. I made a plum galette too! Following a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. This brings back so many memories, and it looks so much more substantial than mine! (Since I wasn’t blogging, I just dumped the plum wedges in the middle, no fancy arrangement.)
Hey, how are the nectarines? I’ve seen white peaches on the shelves too but I’m hesitant to buy, in case the taste isn’t so hot.

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