With in-laws living in Waterloo, Belgium we usually spend a couple weeks in the summer to visit so my husband Pierre can get his fix of Belgian cuisine whilst the in-laws enjoy their grandkids. Pierre has now been living in Toronto for 12 years and gets home-sick every now and then. Well, its mainly the food he misses. As do I. Once there, he easily eats the tomate aux crevettes grises (small, grey, flavour-packed shrimps prepared in a hollowed tomato), or Américain préparé (Belgian version of steak tartare) daily for lunch. Then of course there’s Belgian street food – frites with so many different sauces (Samurai and Américaine sauce are our faves), Mitraillette (a baguette with meat or sausage, topped with, grated carrots, lettuce and French fries smothered with Andalouse sauce) and my daughter’s favourite, Belgian waffles.
For those of you who haven’t been to Belgium, its one of those countries where the majority of the restaurants and street foods are consistently excellent. There are way more hits than misses. After personally experiencing the food and culture, its easy to understand why a Belgian expat would become home sick. I often find myself craving certain restaurants or dishes from Belgium. Not to mention even basic groceries such as their high fat butter and fresh eggs with sunset hued yolks.
Over time, Pierre has adapted to the food here in Toronto with the exception of the bread and pastries (this is another blog for another time). Luckily for me, one type of food he has adapted to and just adores is Korean. The spicier the better. An anomaly considering Pierre never ate a Korean dish, nor did he ever try anything truly spicy until he met me. There are Asian restaurants in Belgium but they are few and far between. Vietnamese or Thai tend to be the more common Asian cuisines there. In fact, Korean restaurants are a rarity in Belgium. And for the handful that do exist, the slim menu selection and exorbitant prices stops one at the door.
Pierre is Belgian by blood but was born and raised in Switzerland. I was born in South Korea to a Korean mother and Japanese-Korean father but immigrated as an infant to Canada. This distinct union of cultures has made for some extraordinary cuisine and unique traditions in our home. At times I’ll catch myself preparing a European dish with Korean spices or a Korean dish with European herbs. These dishes have been intentional, accidental or improvised based on what’s in the fridge or about to expire.
This flat pie recipe was a product of the latter. A couple of galette dough discs were nearing its three day fridge life. I had a couple Korean pears and a pack of blueberries almost on its way out. I was initially concerned the water-saturated Korean pear with its grainy flesh would ruin the galette crust. So I macerated it with ginger, maple syrup, Cointreau and freshly squeezed mandarin juice. The result was surprisingly good. It was just the right amount of sweet and tangy.
- 1 1/2 Cups unbleached flour
- 3/4 Cup unsalted butter, frozen and grated with box grater
- 1 Tablespoon Sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup iced water
- 1 Tablespoon milk brushed on just before baking
- 1 Tablespoon Turbinado sugar sprinkled before baking
- 500 grams or 1 1/2 Korean pear
- 1 Mandarin its juice and its rind
- 170 grams/7 oz/1 cup blueberries
- 11 grams/1 tablespoon ginger peeled and sliced
- 2.5 oz/1/3 cup of 100% pure maple syrup
- 1 Tablespoon Cointreau or brandy (optional)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sift flour, sugar and salt in large bowl
- Add the frozen grated butter and blend with a pastry cutter/blender for about 20 seconds
- Add the ice cold water one spoon at a time until dough just barely comes together. Try not to overwork the dough. It's okay if it seems a bit crumbly. It'll come together once its rested in the fridge.
- Form a disc and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- In a shallow container, mix the freshly squeezed mandarin juice, its rind, the ginger, maple syrup,
- cinnamon stick, Cointreau (optional) and Korean pear.
- Let it macerate for about an hour at room temperature or a couple hours or more in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 425F/220C and place rack in middle of oven. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
- Bring the crust dough out and let it come to room temperature for about 10 - 12 minutes.
- Roll out onto lightly floured surface in one direction, lifting and rotating to avoid it from sticking to the surface.
- Roll out to a circle about 15 plus inches or so.
- Toss the blueberries into the wet mixture until its just covered in the juice.
- With a slotted spoon, arrange fruit filling on dough leaving about 4 inches from the edge.
- Fold over the edge, brush on milk and sprinkle the turbinado sugar.
- Bake at 425F/220C for about 20 minutes. Then drop the heat to 350F/175C for another 25 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- If you don't have frozen butter, grate your refrigerated butter and place in the freezer for about 20 minutes.
- As well, AP flour works just as well for the crust.
- Try not the overwork the dough. It'll look crumbly when your form a disc in plastic wrap. This is okay. The moisture will redistribute and will come together nicely once its rested in the fridge.
- The longer you macerate the pears, the softer it'll be.