Spring Fruit Crostata

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Ever crave a pie but reallllly don’t want to go through the trouble of trying to create that perfect pie crust with an uncooperative pie pan? Yeah me too.

A crostata is basically a free form rustic pie. These can be made individual like I have done, or family sized! :-) Either way they are going to be delicious and easier than you may think. I used fresh apricots and cherries for my simple filling, but try these during any season. (Think apples in fall, cranberries in winter & berries in summer)

Tip: Try getting your kids involved in forming the crostata, this way each one can be unique and personalized!

The most important part of the crotata is the crust….heres my take on it:

Dough:

1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup cornmeal flour
1/4 cup white sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tbsp. cold butter, cubed
1/2 cup cold buttermilk (or ice water if buttermilk isn’t readily available)
Extra flour for rolling out

Filling:

4 fresh apricots, sliced
1 cup cherries, pitted
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lemon, zested

 

1.) In a food processor pulse cornmeal, flour, sugar & salt. Add in the cold butter all at once and pulse until the butter is around pea  sized. (This helps the butter spread evenly throughout the dough and helps promotes flakiness) Slowly stream in the buttermilk just until the dough starts to form. Turn the dough out onto a cutting board and knead to combine…..Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes. (the colder the better)

2.) In a medium sauté pan on medium heat, saute the apricots and cherries in the butter until they just start to soften. Don’t turn these to mush! Once the fruit has softened just slightly, add in the remaining ingredients. Continue cooking until the sugar has melted and coats the fruit. Let cool.

3.) Separate the pie dough into fourths or even eights depending on how big you want your crostata to be. Using the extra flour, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch and place on a parchment lined sheet tray.

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4.) Take about 2 tbsp. of filling and put into the center of the dough. Fold up the edges of the dough creating an even crust around the crostata. Bake these suckers at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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I plated mine a bit fancier with lemon curd, caramel and a sour cream sauce. These crostatas are perfectly good alone or with some fresh home made whipped cream!

Squash and Pomegranates?!

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Farro is one of those grains that is slowly creeping into the restaurant scene. Farro is also underused and often misused. This ancient grain can be used in a multitude of ways and makes a delicious side dish to almost any meal.

I’m going to be totally honest…I headed to the pantry at work looking for arborio rice to make a classic risotto. Turns out I was out of arborio rice and had remembered I bought farro just the other day. I had almost forgotten about this nutty grain entirely!

Turning farro into a risotto is one of my favorite ways to use this delicious morsel. Here’s what I did:

2 cups farro
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1 onion, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cups butternut squash, diced & roasted (this is about 1 squash)
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste

 

1.) In a large rondeau or pot, saute the onion, garlic & thyme until the onions just start to get some color on them. (about 5 minutes on medium) Add in the farro and continue sauté until the grain start to smell nutty and fragrant.

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2.) Deglaze the pot with white wine. Once the alcohol is cooked out of the wine, while stirring, add in about a cup of the chicken stock at a time. Make sure after each addition the previous amount of stock has been absorbed by the farro. You will start to notice after a few additions of stock and stirring the creaminess the starch from the grain gives off. This is what you want!

3.) Once all the stock is added into the farro; bring the roasted squash, mascarpone, spices & parmesan into pot party! Once these ingredients are mixed in the risotto becomes creamy and rich. Garnish the risotto with the pomegranate seeds. These add a nice textural contrast to the creamy risotto and a touch of acidity and sweetness!

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Trick Alert: I bought my pomegranate seeds already out of the fruit. (I’m lazy…but also the quantity needed would have taken me weeks to get out! For this recipe you will only need about 1 or 2 pomegranates) Sorry for the rant…back to the trick. Cut the fruit in half and over a bowl of cold water with the fruit seed side down, smack the back of the fruit with a spoon until the seeds fall into the water. The seeds will sink and the light flesh will float making for a much easier experience!

you’re welcome…:-)

 

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