Lemon-Scented Pear Almond Crostata or It’s Finally Fall in Colorado

Baby, it’s cold outside…  Well, not toooooooooo.  But the wind is swaying the trees and the tall flowers in the front berm are bent all the way over, kissing the ground with nearly-dry blooms.   The potted herbs made their way in from the front deck and are now fighting for space in the south dining room window, knowing that they’ll need to stand up tall and throw themselves south for sun in the morning.  It’s a bit sad to watch them come in, but it’s also gratifying to know I tended them lovingly all summer long so that I’d have them to bring in now.  I just never figured on it being the tenth of October.
There’s a bit of snow on the Peak.
Yesterday’s AF-CSU game brought home all that’s best about fall sports, which for me is usually great marching bands.
Look at that sky!
Go CSU Band!
Of course, as an AF wife, I was delighted to see AF beat CSU…but I’ve known a bunch of kids that played in that CSU band after having either sung or played with Dave or me.  It’s a thing of beauty.
A lot of the fun of the usually broiling or freezing AF games is in the tailgating.  Is there anything better than a picnic in perfect weather with the Front Range in the background?  We went with old college friends, which makes for a really easy day of being with people who knew you before you could cook and when you looked a whole lot better.    We had a rather Texan food theme with chicken enchiladas, a new salad of beans, rice and lots of vegetables with a lime-cilantro vinaigrette ( I promised to blog this later), and totally out of character, crostatas for dessert.  Oh, and of course we had sangria and margaritas.  It was, after all past 10 in the morning. 
But, back to the crostatas.  I have to make them in the fall, and this time, they’re coming up in a fall Italian cooking class I’ll teach October 30.  I thought it best to run through the recipe ahead of time.  So….
I made them for book club on Thursday…just a trial.  One apple with orange peel for perk and the other pear with lemon and almonds.  Just to see.  Took a vote and it was split.  By the time Saturday came, and it was time for another test, I had only one ripe pear and so made two combination apple-pear, one orange-scented and the other lemon.  Vote was split again.  Still.  It was fall; it was pie time.  And I guess I’m ready for the pastry portion of the Italian class.  I hope.

Option a (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to the baking sheet.

Option b (below) for moving pastry from board/counter to baking sheet:

Here is the apple at left and the pear at right.

My own winner was the pear with lemon and almond.

The pastry recipe for this comes from Ina Garten, who, I am pretty sure got it from  Joanne Killeen and George Germon in CUCINA SIMPATICA; ROBUST TRATTORIA COOKING.  Just a little detective work of mine.  Despite the provenance, it’s a tasty tidbit for fall when the fall fruit is divine (You can pick apples at Happy Apple Farm in Penrose if they’re not all gone.)  As neither one of them made pear, I feel I’ve contributed to the development of the recipe and hopefully to the happiness of your tummies.  This is tres easy, and if you’re afraid of pastry, this is a great start.  There’s no form-fitting into pie pans or making a crust look “P” for perfect.  This is a free-form, rustic pie baked on parchment paper on a baking sheet.  If it spills over or runs through, it’s just crusty-gooey and even better.  Don’t hesitate.  Pretty for Thanksgiving, too.  Oh, in France, this is a galette.  Here’s how I did it:
4 large or 6 regular servings for each crostata
Parchment paper needed for baking
pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later)
  • 2 c white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2# (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 c ice water
In the food processor, fitted with the knife blade, pulse together the flour, sugar and salt.  Add the cold butter and pulse until mixture is the size of peas.  Slowly add iced water through the feed tube until dough begins to come together.  Remove carefully from processor and divide in half.  Press each into a disc.  Wrap one in foil and freeze it.  Refrigerate the other for an hour is best, but you can roll it right away if you must.  Dust the counter very well indeed with flour and roll the disc, using a rolling pin, into an 11″ circle.  Place on parchment lined baking sheet until you have the fruit ready.  (Check out the pics above where I give you two options for getting the pastry from the counter to the pans.)  You can  a. fold it up gently and  quick like a bunny pick it up, and centering it over the baking sheet, place it carefully down and unfold it or, b. loosely roll the dough back onto the rolling pin and move the rolling pin over above the baking sheet, lowering it and loosening the pastry down flat onto the pan.   This is not easy to describe; I apologize for lack of prowess as a technical writer! 
  • 1-11/4# pears (Seckel or Bosc or a mixture), peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1-2t grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 c sliced almonds
  • 1/4 c ea flour and sugar
  • 1/4 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t cinnamon
  • 4T unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 450 and place rack at center.
In a large bowl, mix cut-up pears with lemon rind and most of the almonds, reserving 1T or so for the top of the crostata.  In the food processor, make a crumb topping for the crostata by pulsing together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter until crumbly.  Remove the blade from the processor bowl, and, using fingers, pinch together the crumbs until they hold together. 
Place pear-lemon mixture onto the pastry, leaving 1 1/2 inches around the edges.  Crumble topping on the pears evenly and sprinkle with the last of the almonds.  Fold the edges of the pastry up and over the fruit, gently pleating the dough at the corners.  You’ll be leaving most of the fruit covered by only the crumbly topping; the pastry just comes up around the edges of this pie.
Place baking sheet in oven and bake 25-30 minutes (use the longer time above 5,000 feet) until golden brown and crispy.  Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before sliding pie off the paper onto wire rack to cool completely.  Will hold at room temperature a day or so and in the refrigerator for several days, though it is best fresh.
Note:  If you’d like to make an apple crostata with the other crust, it’s made almost like the above pie, but you’ll need 1 1/2 # (3-4 large Granny Smith) apples, 1 t orange peel and no nuts unless you choose to add some one your own.  If you do, toasted walnuts might be best.
Sing a new song; bake a new pie– It’s fall, isn’t it?  (FINALLY),
If you have a heart for prayer, please pray for Rowan Carr, three-year old niece of our neighbors, who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.
2-Dog Kitchen has been off the air for a couple of posts.

Here are a few updates.  Skippy Jon Jones, share cat, has been here about two months and just returned “home.”  Seems a bit quiet without him around.

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