Month: September 2017

The Making of a Crostata …

On July 24th, a piece entitled “The Brunch” was posted on the blog. Two of the featured dishes were a grilled mushroom salsa and a Michigan cherry crostata. As things turned out, there was more than enough grilled mushroom salsa to go around so the leftovers were frozen. Now what to do with them? That is where the crostata comes in. Not all crostata have sweet fillings and are served as a dessert. They can also be prepared with savory fillings and served as a side accompaniment or even as the main dish paired with a salad.

Working with a few basic vegetables I had on hand, along with the mushroom salsa and two cheeses, I was able to prepare a rich and flavorful crostata. Pair it with a side vegetable or salad and a good bottle of red wine and you have a satisfying main course enough to serve 8.

Refer to the blog archive, July 24, 2017, for the post entitled “The Brunch” to get the Grilled Mushroom Salsa recipe. If you don’t have the time to prepare that recipe, instead sauté a pound and a half of your favorite mushrooms along with some onion, garlic, and minced herbs such as parsley, thyme, and marjoram, which then will be added to the other filling ingredients in the crostata.

Just as a quick refresher, a crostata, an Italian term, or galette, a French term, are often used interchangeably when describing a type of tart. In the classic sense, a tart is defined by the type of pan the shell is formed and baked in–round, square, or rectangular, fluted or not, with or without a removable bottom. There is no baking pan used when preparing a crostata or galette because it is a free-form tart where the pastry is folded over or wrapped around the filling with no two looking exactly the same. That is part of the fun with making a crostata or galette.

Pastry Dough Ingredients (serves 8)
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter cut into ½-inch pieces
3 tablespoons Greek yogurt or sour cream
2 to 3 tablespoons cold water as needed

Filling Ingredients
2 cups of grilled mushroom salsa, or mushroom sauté as alternately described

1 medium fennel bulb, sliced in half then thinly sliced lengthwise

2 medium-size leeks (white and tender green part), tough outer leaves removed, sliced in quarters holding the root end, thoroughly washed, then thinly sliced into ½-inch pieces, discarding the root end

3 to 4 large scallions (white and tender green part), thinly sliced into ½-inch pieces, discarding the root end

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 cups grated Fontina cheese

1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Semolina flour

1 large egg, beaten with a tablespoon of water for an egg wash

 

Method

Filling
In a large sauté pan place 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated but not smoking, add the fennel, leeks, and scallions, stirring often so they are coated with the oil and begin to gently sizzle. Season with salt and pepper and continue to sauté, stirring and turning over frequently until the vegetables soften and begin to lightly color. Add the reserved mushrooms and thoroughly mix to combine. Saute another few minutes so that the filling is completely heated through and check and correct the seasoning as needed. Set the pan aside to cool.

Pastry Dough
Preheat the oven to 375 to 400 degrees.

In the work bowl of a food processor, place the dry ingredients, pulsing a few times to mix. With the processor running slowly, drop the butter pieces in one by one until they begin to incorporate into the dry ingredients. Add the yogurt and increase the speed gradually until the dough begins to form. If the mix seems to thick, add a tablespoon or two of water until the dough pulls away from the sides of the work bowl and all the butter is incorporated.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a flattened disk. Wrap the dough in clear film and chill for 15 minutes.

Once chilled, unwrap and return the dough to the floured surface. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and gently roll out the dough to a round shape of approximately 14 inches. Place the rolled out dough on a sheet of baking parchment paper in a large sheet pan. Sprinkle some semolina flour around the center of the flat pastry, leaving a 2-inch margin around.

Sprinkle half the Fontina and the Parmigiano-Reggiano over the semolina and then spoon the cooled filling sauté onto the dough, working from the center out up to the 2-inch margin. Top the filling with the remaining cheeses.

Start folding the dough over and on itself around the tart until the filling is completely enclosed. Pinch or crease any of the seams so that the dough doesn’t come apart during baking.

Ready for oven

Using a pastry brush, spread the egg wash all over the folded dough which will insure a good seal on the seams and nicely color the tart during baking.

Place the sheet pan on the center rack of the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes until the crust is firm and golden brown.

Baked

Serve a slice with a side salad or another vegetable. In this meal I served my caponata to accompany.

Sliced

Plated

Leftovers can be fun! Enjoy.

Eat well. Be well.
DM

In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different. Time heals … food comforts!

 

 

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