Three Recipes Straight From Enlightened Tassajara Zen Monks
July 19, 2012
Fortunately for foodies, the meditation hall isn’t the only place in the Tassajara Mountain Zen Center where folks are most likely places to experience enlightenment.
Just as good, say the monks: the kitchen.
If chopping onions is more your style than sitting cross-legged for hours, those monks can guide you toward making that into a zen experience, as they did at this summer’s annual Finding Yourself in the Tassajara Kitchen retreat.
Our group of a dozen prepared scaled-up version of this vegetable galette recipe to feed 70 dinner guests, plus students with leftovers the following day. The recipes, by Tassajara Dinners and Desserts author and former head cook Dale Kent, are easily adapted to whatever’s in season.
Kent—and centuries’ worth of Buddhist teachings—would urge you not to look for something bigger in these recipes, but in how you approach them.
“Handle even a single leaf of a green in such a way that it manifests the body of the Buddha,” 13th-century teacher Eihei Dôgen wrote in Instructions to the Cook.
Look for a write-up of the experience in the July 19 Weekly. For Tassajara’s full retreat schedule, visit www.sfzc.org/tassajara.
Simple and Delicious Yeasted Tart Dough Serves 6-8
Ingredients 1 teaspoon dry yeast pinch of sugar ¼ cup warm water 1 ¼ cups flour ½ teaspoon salt 1 large egg 3 tablespoons soft butter
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Combine 1 cup flour with the salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour and pour in the egg. Make sure the egg is not so cold as to solidify the butter. Add the butter and pour in the yeast mixture.
Stir with a wooden spoon. Begin by stirring the liquids together; as they come together begin picking up more and more flour until you form a smooth dough that pulls away from the bowl. It should come together very quickly. Quick, effective strokes that pick up just the right amount of flour are the key.
Turn out the dough onto a counter and knead in the remaining ¼ cup flour until smooth and shiny, about five minutes. Put the dough into an oiled bowl and let rise for about one hour, or until it has doubled in size. Punch down the dough and let it rise again if you have (or need) the time.
This is a very elastic dough that is really easy to work with. It can be hand-worked straight from bowl to tart pan and simply pressed into a tart form, or laid out like a pizza with the crust folded up over the filling. Roll out and cajole the dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle to line a 10-inch tart pan, or pull and fold the dough into a free-form galette in a pie tin or on a baking sheet.
Mushroom Galette Serves 4-6
Ingredients 1 cup chopped onion 3 cups thinly sliced fresh mushrooms 2 tablespoons herbs de provence 1 teaspoon salt ½ to 1 cup white wine 1 bunch hardy greens, stemmed (kale, mustard, whatever is in season) Yeasted Tart Dough 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan or cheddar cheese 6 ounces goat cheese 1 egg
Saute onion until translucent. Add the mushrooms, herbs and salt and cook for 15 to 20 minutes (or longer if you add more volume). The mushrooms should release their juices, filling the pan with liquid. Add the wine and cook down until the mushrooms are brown and the mixture begins to carmelize. Steam greens until cooked and drain in a colander.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface then place on a sheet pan or in a pie tin. Sprinkle Parmesan or cheddar in the center. This will melt, forming a watertight seal that helps keep the crust crisp.
Squeeze as much water as you can out of the greens, then chop. Toss with goat cheese and mushroom mixture. Put the mixture in the middle of the dough, then fold edges up to form galette. Brush the surface of the crust with beaten egg.
Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn over down to 350 and bake for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the crust is brown and the filling is bubbling. The bottom of the crust should be golden, crisp and dry.
Seasoned olives This is an easy way to brighten up olives. Heat for 20 minutes, in olive juices, with fresh oregano, rosemary and marjoram, or seasonal fresh herbs. Drain and serve.