Category: Crostata

Baking in the Almost-a-Kitchen–So Long, Miss Gab

Baking in the Almost-a-Kitchen–So Long, Miss Gab

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                In memoriam:  Miss Gab.  July 4, 2008 – September 26, 2014

Our world is made up of many things--special times, prayers, phases, people, schools, skies, places, music, mountains, meals, oceans, books, travels, and, for me, dogs.  If you’ve read this blog long, you’ll know the dogs often figure prominently in the stories and cooking adventures at our house; they always have.

(Below:  May, 2009:  Fiona, our first female golden, with puppy Miss Gab on top of her and then Miss Gab and Tucker with friend Newman)

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(Below:  puppy Tucker with Britta, under Miss Gab, and his own grown-up happy self)

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And while I don’t often enough chronicle loss and pain here in a what appears to be a cooking blog, I can’t move on, cook, or write without a tribute to our Gab–so long part of the Two-Dog Kitchen.  Maybe I just need to get it down so that I can see it here, maybe make some sense of it.  But there’s no sense to this story.  You’ve guessed this isn’t a happy tale. Continue reading “Baking in the Almost-a-Kitchen–So Long, Miss Gab”

38 Power Foods, Week 28 — Almonds — Pear-Almond Crostata

38 Power Foods, Week 28 — Almonds — Pear-Almond Crostata

I had parents who were full of quirky sayings.  My dad, being from the south, often said, “If I could only eat one food on earth, I would choose peanuts.”  (If he’d been from Minnesota, he would have needed to say walnuts.) Another day he’d put milk or eggs in that exalted position, but it was always one of two or three favorites. In other words, if you had to go on a long hike or be out on the lake fishing for a long time, bring nuts.  You’d be happy-crunchy and, while he never mentioned it, you’d be full from the fiber and not be hungry for a long time given the protein and fat content of nuts.

My kids once had a doctor who, beside being a wonderful human being and just as good of a doctor, invited us in to his office each visit.  He’d turn around and sit and chat a minute or two before getting down to business.  Once in a while, he’d say, “I haven’t had lunch yet; let me get something to eat while we visit.”  Out of his drawer would come a big bag of plain almonds.  He’d pour a handful or two out for himself and offer the bag to us.  “Best lunch available in a drawer,” was his line.  He’d chomp several before saying, “All right, I’m ok now; I was starved.”

I’m sure neither of these men had pear-almond crostata in mind when he thought about nuts as an excellent source of nutrition, though I do!  It never hurts to add a little protein and fiber to a scrumptious dessert and, while I make lots of desserts (among other things!) with almonds in them– (I use almond paste as the bottom layer of my strudel) — this is my favorite.  Most of my friends have eaten a crostata or two at my house.   It’s a special occasion treat and I make it for birthdays, dinner parties, or holidays.

If you’ve never made a crostata  before, don’t be frightened by the name; it’s just a free-form pie that every self-respecting home and professional cook in Italy makes regularly. (Italian crostatas are often made with jam rather than fresh fruit.)  I find it simpler and tastier than an American pie; it’s forgiving in shape, size, and texture; it’s perfectly luscious and has the oooooo and ahhhhhh factor desserts deserve.

                                   Recipe for a raspberry jam crostata here.

The dough for my crostata is made in the food processor and is done in a flash.  Try this:

pear-almond crostata

4 regular or six small servings for one crostata

Parchment paper needed for baking

pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later)
  • 2 cups white, unbleached flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2-pound (2 sticks) very cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/4 cup 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 here 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.   

The pastry recipe for this comes from Ina Garten, who, I might have gotten(?) it from  Joanne Killeen and George Germon in CUCINA SIMPATICA; ROBUST TRATTORIA COOKING.  

filling:

  • 1-1 1/4# pears (Seckel or Bosc or a mixture), peeled, cored and cut into 1″ chunks
    (Pears should be ripe or nearly ripe and still firm)
  • 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.

{printable recipe}

The best drink for crostata is a cup of fresh black coffee.

ALMONDS…

This is a one ounce serving of almonds–about 25 and almost 1/4 cup.

  

 Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese; they are a good source fiber, copper, phosphorous and riboflavin. When compared ounce for ounce, almonds are the nut highest in protein (6g), fiber, calcium (75mg), vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin (1mg). Talk about good things coming in a small package. 

The average woman needs 46 grams of protein per day. She needs 25 grams of fiber.  (webmd.com)

.

  Nutrient Content of Tree Nuts–Almond info in RED.

USDA Nutrient Laboratory Database, Release 20 (Nd – no data); Bolded numbers indicate highest value.

(1 ounce whole natural) Almond Brazil Nut Cashew Hazelnut Macadamia Pecan Pistachio Walnut
Calories 163 186 157 178 204 196 158 185
Protein (g) 6 4 5 4 2 3 6 4
Total Fat (g) 14 19 13 17 21 20 13 19
Carbohydrate (g) 6 4 9 5 4 4 8 4
Dietary Fiber (g) 3.5 2.1 0.9 2.7 2.4 2.7 2.9 1.9
Calcium (mg) 75 45 10 32 24 20 30 28
Iron (mg) 1.1 0.7 1.9 1.3 1.1 0.7 1.2 0.8
Magnesium (mg) 76 107 83 46 37 34 34 45
Phosphorus (mg) 137 206 168 82 53 79 139 98
Potassium (mg) 200 187 187 193 104 116 291 125

NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION COURTESY bluediamond.com

 
 Our blogging group:

I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more  at these sites today or sometime in the future (Not everyone posts this week.): 

Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink

 Are you a food blogger?

  This Week on More Time at the Table–Warming Dinners:

Vegetable Soup (Vegan and Gluten-Free) a la Provence in 30 minutes: 

Streamlined Beef Burgundy with Vegetables

 

 Sing a new song,
Alyce 

38 Power Foods, Week 18 — Citrus — Step-by-Step Pear or Apple Crostata (Pie 101)

38 Power Foods, Week 18 — Citrus — Step-by-Step Pear or Apple Crostata (Pie 101)

Scroll down for recipe.

Come fall, I make crostatas regularly.  They’re beautiful, terribly good to eat, and generally make folks quite happy.  A free-form fruit pie (often made with homemade jam in Italy), they’re easier to make than traditional American pie and are show-stoppers when you have friends to dinner.  I’ve blogged the crostatas before, and have taught them several times for the Italian classes I’ve done at home.  But I didn’t think of them in terms of citrus until our Power Foods list came up this week.  While citrus (lemon particularly) is a huge part of my cooking, I think about it less in terms of baking.   

  For instance:  I rarely make a green salad without squeezing a lemon over it.  Either I have lemon and oil, lemon alone, or lemon before a vinaigrette.  Whatever choice I make, lemon, as an acid, is always followed by salt and pepper on my salads because salt dissolves best in acid.  For that reason, if I’m making a vinaigrette, I always put the salt in the acid — whether citrus or vinegar– before adding the oil. 


  Secondly, there’s little to perk up a piece of chicken, a steak, or a lamb chop like a squeeze of fresh lemon.  Of course you like lemon on fish, right?  Why not red meat or poultry?

Another thing: I love lemon juice in chili.  I stuff my roasting chicken with big pieces of orange and a cut-up onion or sometimes roast a lemon in the bottom of the pan for the sauce.  I use one citrus or another to keep my cut fruit from browning.  There are so many ways I use citrus, I can’t count or write them.  I buy lemons by the bagful, but rarely go to the store without also buying limes.  Because I don’t eat oranges or grapefruit for breakfast, I buy those only when I’m cooking or baking with them.

These fresh fruit fall crostatas, too, would be very much less without the citrus.  I make several kinds of crostatas, but these two, apple and pear, have orange and lemon zest respectively.  You could switch them out and use orange with the pear and lemon with the apple; I’m sure it would be lovely.

Citrus is, of course, loaded with vitamin C,  provides fiber, folate, lycopene, potassium and other vitamins and minerals.   (More below.)  Yes, it’s great food…  But for me…it’s all about the flavor when I use it for cooking.

A picture story…followed by the recipe.  Bake peace!
                        (Interested in traditional pie?  Read my PIE 101 post here.)

First, the apple version:

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

Apple close-up–ready to eat!

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

And, then the pear photos:


Baked pear crostata close-up; I liked the pear best.
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 and maybe a few other places!  Just a little detective work of mine.  Despite the provenance, it’s a tasty tidbit for fall when the fall fruit is divine   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:
Here is the apple at left and the pear at right.



LEMON SCENTED PEAR-ALMOND CROSTATA
4 large or 6 regular servings for each crostata
Parchment paper needed for baking
pastry:  (makes 2-freeze one for later or make 2)
  • 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!

Filling
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.  This is Ina’s method!
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More info on citrus nutrition HERE.
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I blog with a great group of writers every Friday where we cook our way through the list of foods from Whole Living Magazine’s Power Foods:  150 Delicious Recipes with the 38 Healthiest Ingredients:    Read more about tasty citrus this week at these sites: 

 
Ansh – SpiceRoots.com  
Minnie Gupta from TheLady8Home.com

Sarah – Everything in the Kitchen Sink
.
Want to join us?  We’d like to have you as part of the group.  Get in touch with Mireya from My Healthy Eating Habits:  Mireya@MyHealthyEatingHabits.com

Sing a new song,
Alyce
Lemon-Scented Pear Almond Crostata or It’s Finally Fall in Colorado

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:
LEMON-SCENTED PEAR ALMOND CROSTATA
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! 
Filling
  • 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),
Alyce
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.
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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.