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Julia Busuttil Nishimura's Seasonal Flavours: Strawberries

Food

In the wake of Melbourne’s first properly warm day after winter, Julia Busuttil-Nishimura’s latest seasonal recipe for simple, not-too-sweet strawberry and rose galette couldn’t have come at a better time.

Best enjoyed at a twilight park picnic, or at home on lazy Sundays afternoons with all the doors and windows open – but really, no matter where you consume this, it’s gonna be good! 

15th October, 2019

Freshly chopped strawberries ready for baking. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Fresh strawberries are back in season! Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia folding over the pastry. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Spooning the strawberries into the pastry. Photo – Eve Wilson.

I am a firm believer that you don’t want anything to appear so perfect that people think you’ve bought it. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia at home in her Brunswick kitchen. Photo – Eve Wilson.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
Tuesday 15th October 2019

‘A galette, or crostata, is basically speaking, a rustic open tart… the more homemade looking it is, the better.’

As I write this, it feels as though Spring has officially arrived! The backstreets near my house smell of jasmine, there are more blue-skied days than grey and the windows have all been flung open. It’s safe to say that this time of year makes most people feel slightly more chipper too, and you can sense it. It also brings anticipation of what’s to come – mangoes eaten over the kitchen sink, outside gatherings and lazy afternoons.

Spring also happens to be the perfect time to enjoy strawberries, and they are the very first fruit which signals the warmer weather to come. A galette, or crostata, is basically speaking, a rustic open tart and is a wonderful alternative to a pie which often requires a little extra effort and skill. The more homemade looking it is, the better. I am a firm believer that you don’t want anything to appear so perfect that people think you’ve bought it. The pastry is so flaky and really simple to make too. If you’ve never embarked on pastry making before, I urge you to try it! Just be sure your water is icy and the butter very cold. When incorporating the water, don’t overwork the pastry dough either – you want to handle the dough as little as possible to ensure the pastry is flaky and light.

You can use a variety of other fruits here in lieu of the strawberries– blueberries, raspberries, apricots, peaches and rhubarb all work very well, which means you can enjoy well into summer as new season fruits emerge. Just be sure to adjust the sweetness depending on what you choose. A more tart fruit like rhubarb will most likely need a little extra sugar. Try different flavourings too – vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom and lemon zest work wonderfully with certain fruits. This tart can be assembled the day before and kept in the fridge – all you need to do is brush with cream and scatter over the sugar before baking.

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JULIA’S STRAWBERRY GALETTE (serves 4)

Ingredients
750g strawberries, hulled and halved
3tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp cornflour
Zest of an orange
1tsp rosewater

Flakey Pastry
250 g plain flour
1 tablespoon caster sugar
Pinch of fine sea salt
180 g chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1tbsp white vinegar
Iced water

Rose Cream
300ml pure cream
1tbsp icing sugar
1tsp rose water

Pure cream, for brushing
Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
Roasted pistachios, roughly chopped, to serve

Method

To make the dough for the pastry, mix the flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips or a pastry cutter until the mixture is pebbly. You want to almost rub the butter into flatter pieces rather than into something that resembles breadcrumbs. Drizzle in the vinegar and sprinkle over enough iced water to just bring the dough together. It will still be shaggy but shouldn’t be dry or floury and hold together when pressed. Flatten into a disc, wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Allow the pastry to rest out of the fridge for 10 minutes. Line a 25 cm round baking tray with baking paper. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured work surface into a large roundabout 5 mm thick, massaging the edges as you roll to prevent it from cracking too much. Drape the pastry over the prepared tray. In a bowl, mix the strawberries with the sugar, corn starch, orange zest and rosewater. Arrange the fruit on the pastry, leaving a 4 cm border. There isn’t really a need to be precise with the border or overhanging pastry as it is wonderfully rustic, so any overhanging pastry, even if more than 4cm can be just folded in. Fold in the overhanging pastry edge to create a border, pinching it together at intervals to create a circular shape. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Brush the pastry with cream and scatter with demerara sugar.

Bake the galette in the preheated oven for 35–40 minutes until the pastry is golden, the fruit is soft and the juices are visibly bubbling. Allow to cool – this step is very important to allow the juices to thicken.

Meanwhile, whip the cream and icing sugar to soft peaks and fold through the rosewater. Serve slices of the galette with a generous dollop of the cream and a scattering of pistachios.

What else I’m cooking with…

Asparagus simply drizzled with really good olive oil and flaky salt and grilled in a hot pan for a minute or too. Toss through some mint and buffalo mozzarella and serve with crusty bread.

What I’m eating…

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see I’ve recently been eating lots of amazing things in Japan!! But now that I’m back home I can’t get enough of the salad sandwich from Wild Life Bakery. It’s the kind of sandwich you could definitely make at home but somehow tastes so much better there.

You can follow along with Julia on Instagram and find more fab recipes via her website

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