Are you in need of more joie in your vivre? More quelque chose in your quotidian? Basically, a little something more in your everyday. It’s possible to find moments of simply being present throughout the day and relishing in the simple beauty of everyday things. An observer in one’s own life. One way I do this every day is by making sure to take an unfettered moment to enjoy my morning coffee. This morning it’s in my kitchen, sunshine streaming in the window, cat in my lap, fresh flowers in a vase nearby. The effortless beauty found in a quiet moment; warm feelings of sunshine and a cozy feline friend, aromas of freshly brewed coffee, aaaahh. Un moment parfait!
I’m proud of my French heritage and whenever I visit France I feel a sense of belonging that I understand many Americans do not. It has nothing to do with the language (rusty, not fluent, but I can usually hold my own) but more about the French attitude, behavior and yes, joie de vivre (zest for life)! The French seem bound to "codes of behavior" and an idea that quality of life should be cultivated and savored, and I wholeheartedly agree. This belief doesn't apply only to the French approach to food (hello croissant, baguette, fromage, pâté!) but to everything from fashion to the arts. The French take pride not only in tradition, but to the depth and origins of their way of life.
Imagine enjoying a stroll and managing to do so without a destination in mind, with no regard for counting steps, no headphones in ears and managing to do it without your eyes glued to your device in one hand and a latte in the other. A free thought might actually enter. You may notice something you’ve never seen before. Smile at a stranger. This is what inspired the figure in my branding, the Flâneur.
Materializing from the imagination of Charles Baudelaire in his 1863 essay, “The Painter of Modern Life”, Baudelaire’s Flâneur was essentially an observer of modern life. The word is from the French noun flâneur, referring to one who strolls, saunters, or lounges. Flânerie is the act of strolling, with all of its accompanying associations – observing, idling, exploring, daydreaming.
The support role in many an impressionist painting, the Flâneur, a dabbling observer caught forever in the spontaneous scenes and the landscapes of everyday life by artists like Monet, Renoir, Pissarro and Degas. What would our world be if they’d had electronic devices and other such distractions at hand rather than paper, pencils, canvases, paint?
I recall a third-grade teacher snapping at me to “Stop daydreaming and pay attention.” I didn’t understand her reaction and to this day, rather than being ashamed of my daydreaming, I am grateful for it.
A misunderstood pastime, once thought to be a treacherous form of being idle, today daydreaming is more often classified as an enemy of productivity or a distraction from the true task at hand.
Daydreaming is an essential aspect of my work. Artists, playwrights, composers, designers, mathematicians and poets build whole worlds out of the abstract stream of consciousness that daydreams offer. Creative achievements often begin as a waking dream or a walking dream. Is it any wonder these professions attract introverts and loners — people like me, happily working inside their heads for extended periods of time?
Take this platter of gorgeous stone fruit; apricots, plums, and peaches. All of their contrasting textures; smooth, fuzzy, velvet, slick. Richly fragrant, heady with perfume and honey. So inspiring. Rather than painting it, I fall into a reverie rife with images of simmering confiture, scented with star anise, cardamom and vanilla. A chunky confetti of fruit bounces onto dewy, crisp lettuce leaves, landing among cubes of avocado, toasted almonds and chickpeas before getting drizzled with a warm-spice scented vinaigrette. Flaky, butter-rich pastry cradles the beautiful fruit, the aromas further intoxicate from the heat of the oven. Try, try, trying to hold their shape, until finally, nestled in bubbling comfort, they abandon themselves to become one, to become something beautiful and delicious. Transformed, changed, exalted. I think we’re going to need ice cream….
See, daydreaming, free thoughts, observing, exploring all good, right?!? Give yourself a break, take some time, have a wander or walkabout, free from distraction. And then make this stone fruit galette, you artist you!
Stone Fruit Galette
Depending on how juicy and sweet your fruit is will impact how much sugar and thickener you will need. You can easily make this galette with any fruit, just swap in the same weight; apples, pears, berries, etc. are all equally delicious.
Serves 6 to 8
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt*, divided
1 stick (4 oz.) cold, diced butter
4 to 5 Tbsp ice water
2 pounds ripe stonefruit; peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots or any combo
6 to 8 tablespoons granulated sugar (less if you have sweet fruit, more of it’s a bit tart)
3 to 5 tablespoons tapioca starch (cornstarch or flour are also fine to use here)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (ground allspice, cardamom, or ginger can also used)
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar (or other coarse/sanding sugar), or granulated sugar
Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add cubed cold butter and pulse several times until the flour resembles cornmeal and the pieces of butter rare broken down enough that they look like pea or lima bean shapes.
Alternately, using your fingers, a pastry blender, or fork, and mix until mixture resembles coarse crumbs and some pea-sized bits of butter remain.
Gradually add the ice water (start with 3 to 4 tablespoons – NO ICE CUBES IN DOUGH!), pulsing the food processor or mix gently with a fork, just until combined. It may be necessary to add another tablespoon or two of ice water for dough to come together. Squeeze a bit of the dough in your fist, if it holds it shape, your good to go. If it is still crumbly add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing and squeeze testing after each addition.
Brush off your hands then transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Using the heel of your hands gently press the dough away from you, slightly smearing it as you do. Gather and press away from you again, repeat this a few times until dough holds together. Gather the dough up one last time and press it into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill at least 30 minutes, or freeze (well wrapped) up to two months, thaw in refrigerator overnight before using.
When ready to bake the galette, remove the dough from refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a roughly 13-inch round, about 1/8-inch thick. Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer it to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill the dough until firm, about 20 minutes. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C) and adjust a rack to the center of oven.
Cut the fruit evenly into slices, about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick. Place in a large bowl and add the sugar, tapioca starch (more if you have juicy fruit and less if it’s not so juicy), lemon juice, cinnamon, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss gently to combine.
Spread the fruit mixture evenly over the dough to within 2 inches of the edge. Arrange the fruit wedges into a decorative pattern, if you like. Fold the edge of the dough up over the filling to create a 2-inch border, pinching where it overlaps so it holds together during baking. (If the dough is cold and firm, wait for a few minutes until it softens a bit to prevent cracking.) Use a pastry brush to apply the egg wash to the pastry border and immediately sprinkle the border and top of fruit with the turbinado sugar.
Place the galette in the oven, reduce heat to 400°F (200°C) and bake for about 1 hour, until the fruit is quite soft, juices are bubbling and the crust is richly browned. If crust is getting too brown, carefully tent with aluminum foil. Let the galette cool to room temperature before serving.
* Our recipes are developed and tested using Diamond Crystal kosher salt. If you are using table salt or Morton’s kosher salt, use half the amount