There’s something to be said for recognizing the importance of a simple, home-cooked meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just honest ingredients cooked with love, adding up to more than the sum of its parts. Danielle Kartes’ Rustic Joyful Food: Generations (Sourcebooks; $29.99) is the second book in her “Rustic Joyful Food” series, and is a paean to the humble, comforting dishes of her childhood, growing up in Washington State. She has moved beyond the Kool-Aid and butter-flavored Crisco of her youth, and has recreated her family’s favorite meals using wholefoods and organic ingredients. The book kicks off with main dishes like Cafeteria Chicken Gravy, progresses through Hamburger Soup and sides such as Aunty Pat’s Dilly Potatoes, and finishes up with breakfasts and sweets. These recipes are not going to make your pants any looser, but they are going to support the country’s dairy farmers.
I recently happened to be traveling in Australia, where berries were in season and decided to test-drive Kartes’ strawberry galette recipe. A pastry made from flour, butter, sugar and salt is folded up around a filling of strawberries that have been tossed with sugar, flour and salt, and baked until golden. The dough is almost exactly the recipe for shortbread, and while it was deliciously crumbly, it was very difficult to handle—never before have I worked so hard to encase fruit in pastry. The filling was a bit disappointing: Too much flour and sugar left the strawberries sickly and gummy.
Despite my experience with the galette, I’m sure that Rustic Joyful Food: Generations has a lot to offer many readers, particularly those that experienced a childhood similar to Kartes’. It’s full of memories, and flavors that connect the past to the present. But if, like me, you had a very different upbringing, you might be left wondering how thick those rose-colored glasses really are.
Wendy Underwood tests out cookbooks weekly on Instagram at @kitchenvscookbook.
The following is an excerpt from Rustic Joyful Food: Generations by Danielle Kartes (C) 2020 Reproduced by permission of Sourcebooks. All rights reserved.
Strawberry Galette with Crème Fraîche
PREP TIME: 10 minutes COOK TIME: 30–40 minutes
YIELD: 1 9-inch galette
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups sliced strawberries
¾ cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Plain crème fraîche for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the flour, butter, sugar, and salt into a stand mixer. Mix until it begins to come together.
Turn the crumbles out onto a floured surface, and roll into a 12-inch disk. Gently fold over onto itself, and lay it on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Unfold it, and prepare the filling.
Mix the strawberries with the sugar, flour, and salt; pour into the center of the pastry, and fold the edges up onto itself. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
If you fancy a browned and glossy crust, brush an egg wash over the pastry edges, then sprinkle with sugar.
PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 30–35 minutes
YIELD: 4 servings
1 pound ground chicken
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 quarts chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 cup brown rice
1 cup dry lentils
1 medium onion, diced (any color preference)
1 bell pepper, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed
1 packet taco seasoning (see note)
1 teaspoon dried paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown the chicken in the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a simmer, and reduce to low heat. The soup is done when the rice is done, about 35 minutes. It can get a bit mushy if overcooked.
Note: Seasoning packets are an excellent, cost-effective way to get multiple seasonings without purchasing them individually. Make sure to purchase a packet without additional fillers or chemicals.
Old-Fashioned Dill and Mustard Potato Salad
PREP TIME: 5 minutes COOK TIME: 30 minutes, inactive 2–4 hours
YIELD: 4–6 servings
5 white or gold potatoes, peeled
6 eggs, room temperature, shell on
1 cup diced dill pickle
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup chopped fresh dill
½ cup yellow mustard
¼ cup pickle juice (from the jar)
1 rib celery, diced
¼ white onion, grated
Cover the potatoes with water, and bring to a boil; this will take about 30 minutes. Add the eggs with 10 minutes of cooking time to go. Dice the potatoes and eggs, and put them in a large mixing bowl. You want the potatoes just cooked; overcooked potatoes will get too mushy. Add all the remaining ingredients, mix gently, and taste for salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours before serving.