Creating masterpieces

“Every child is an artist.”         
– Pablo Picasso

There is something magnificent about a homemade pie. Whether it’s the feeling of accomplishment from mixing and rolling and then forming and fluting the perfect, flaky crust, or the anticipation of all the flavours of the filling blending together between the layers of pastry, making a pie is an experience that I sometimes suspect is similar to that of creating other works of art, like a fine piece of pottery or a carefully tooled piece of woodworking.

While not all of us are skilled with gifts in fine art, I believe, along with Picasso, that everyone can relate to the feeling of joy that comes from the act of creating. Your “creation” might be a perfectly balanced spreadsheet of beautifully arranged numbers, a tidied up and smartly decorated home, a cleverly written article or sermon composed with just the right words, a photograph that captures the perfect moment, a weed-free, colourful garden bursting with bright flowers and fresh produce, a finely tuned engine humming in perfect harmony – the list goes on. Our creator God invites us to commune with him in these experiences. We were made in his image, after all. What a delightful thought, that my desire to create anything of beauty is built into me because our God passed on that trait from himself to us! We are his masterpieces.

A few years ago, I had the joy of being a member of a special interest small group in our church called simply, “Gourmet Group” – a lovely gathering of women who shared the common interest of delicious food. As we sat around the table of our gracious host, we were introduced to new recipes that we would learn to prepare, and eat, together. It was a heavenly fellowship that filled our hearts and souls as much as our stomachs. One of our presenters, Kathryn deRuijter (one of CC’s graphic designers!), introduced us to this Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette from Smitten Kitchen (

There are some recipes I make just because they taste good or they are nutritious and fill the dinner table. Others, like this savoury, decadent pie, are for special occasions or when I want to feel like I’m working on a masterpiece. It is perfect to serve to company. There are never any leftovers, but I imagine they would keep well.

What is a galette?
Despite the fact that it can refer to a number of different baked goods, a “galette” is a French term that typically refers to a free form tart that is made with a flaky pastry crust. These tarts are not molded in tart pans. Instead, filling is placed directly on top of a sheet of rolled out pastry and the edges of that pastry are folded up and around the filling, creating a crisp tart that manages to be both rustic and elegant at the same time.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette

For the pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup ice water

For the filling:
1 small butternut squash (or 2 cups peeled, cubed)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced in half-moons
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
3/4 cup fontina cheese (about 2 1/2 ounces), grated or cut into small bits
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves

1. Make pastry: In a bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the center of the flour. Add the cold butter to the well and, using a pastry blender, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Make another well in the center. In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lemon juice and water and add half of this mixture to the well. With your fingertips, mix in the liquid until large lumps form. Remove the large lumps and repeat with the remaining liquid and flour-butter mixture. Pat the lumps into a ball; do not overwork the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

2. Prepare squash: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel squash, then halve and scoop out seeds. Cut into a 1/2-inch dice. Toss pieces with olive oil and a half-teaspoon of the salt and roast on foil lined (for neatness sake) sheet for 30 minutes or until pieces are tender, turning it midway if your oven bakes unevenly. Set aside to cool slightly.

3. Caramelize onions: While squash is roasting, melt butter in a heavy skillet and cook onion over low heat with the remaining half-teaspoon of salt and pinch of sugar, stirring occasionally, until soft and lightly golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in cayenne if using.

4. Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Mix squash, caramelized onions, cheese and herbs together in a bowl.

5. Assemble galette: On a floured surface, roll dough out into a 12-inch round. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet. Spread squash, onions, cheese and herb mixture over the dough, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Fold the border over the squash, onion and cheese mixture, pleating the edge to make it fit. The centre will be open.

6. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. Serves 6.


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