New Year’s Breakfast Galettes

New Year's Breakfast Galettes

Do this. Do yourself a favor and start the year with a big batch of buckwheat galettes. We made them Christmas morning, and still my taste buds linger over the memory of that soft Gruyere melting into the sweet red onion, tempered with the salty taste of prosciutto and a tart bite of apple.

We specifically modeled these galettes on the first proper French-style crepes I’d ever eaten, in Cambodia, in a little place called Kep on the Gulf of Thailand. Decades ago, the town had served as a playground for the country’s elite. But war came, and Kep fell to the Khmer Rouge, and jungle crept its way through once-glamorous mansions. Their ruins still stand—and crumble—among the trees, like the ghosts of bygone time.

But Kep is seeing something of a quiet revival, and we stayed at a serene set of renovated villas originally designed by Cambodia’s elite class of architects trained in the style of Vann Molyvann and Le Corbusier.

We lounged in a seaside cabana, swam in an infinity pool and took our meals in an open sala with a thick slab table weathered by salty breezes.

One morning, the Frenchman who ran the place created for me the most exquisite, gluten-free thing: a buckwheat galette folded over grilled onions, melted cheese and little chunks of ham. It tasted so good, and the air felt so fresh, I thought it might be the best breakfast I’d ever have.

A few years later, in Paris, I stopped at a street stall and bought a warm galette with salmon, chive and creme fraiche. Truthfully, it wasn’t as good as the epiphany I’d experienced in Kep. But I was in Paris, so I loved that crepe just the same.

Buckwheat galettes, I think, are best when savory, but a hint of sweetness can add spectacular depth—such as a slice of apple to pair with onion and cream. Last weekend, we knew we wanted certain things, and certain combinations of things, to go inside our Christmas galettes. So we bought all of our ingredients the day before, and we made the batter just before heading to bed on Christmas Eve.

That’s the one thing about galettes: they require a little planning, if using an entirely buckwheat batter. We followed Sharon Louise Crayton’s recipe in her book, One Taste. It’s a simple list of ingredients: 2 cups of buckwheat, ½ teaspoon sea salt, 3 cups tepid water, a little oil and 2 optional eggs (we used one); all whisked until bubbly. The batter sat overnight in the fridge, and by morning, it was perfect for a Christmas feast.

We covered the counter in an array of little dishes: diced prosciutto, shaved gruyere, finely chopped yellow onion, minced garlic, a wedge of goat-milk brie, a dollop of creme fraiche, thin slices of apple and mini pieces of Manzanilla olives.

Mixing continental influences, I also took cues from my brother-in-law’s Argentinian cookbook: I snipped a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and sautéed it with red onion, until the entire kitchen smelled of that rich, herbal aroma.

And we set to work.

The key is to maintain a very thin consistency. The recipe calls for a nonstick skillet, but we used cast iron, over medium-high heat. To ensure the batter wouldn’t burn, my husband added a little butter and grapeseed oil, then followed the recipe’s suggestion of brushing the skillet with oil and an apple slice on the end of a fork (do this as often as necessary). He ladled the batter into the skillet and swirled it until evenly spread. After a couple of minutes, he flipped the crepe and cooked until slightly browned, then set aside.

When all the crepes were made, we began stuffing them, one by one, with an assortment of fillings. Galettes can be folded two, three or four times—as many as you see fit (or as many times as necessary to keep the crepes intact). We rolled ours burrito-style, then gently heated each in the skillet until the fillings had melted and warmed into the crepes.

We made one after the other after the other, each a little different from the one before. Yet they were all divine.

I couldn’t think of a better breakfast to kick off the New Year.

New Year's Breakfast Galettes

See more of Jerry Redfern’s photos at Rambling Spoon.

When she’s not running up mountains or sweating through a buggy jungle, Karen Coates covers food, environment, science, health and social issues. She is a 2010-2011 Ted Scripps Fellow in Environ ...read more

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