Friday, October 12, 2012

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

9 comments:

  1. I have never made a crostata before. I am inspired to try this. Looks so rustic and beautiful.

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  2. Mmm! Sounds so flavorful! I like Ina Gartner.

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  3. I am not big on making pies but this is so much more doable. I should add this to my desserts.

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  4. @Chaya: Most people don't bake pies. It's the fear factor. Or maybe the time factor. While it takes a bit of time and mastering, all the efforts are appreciated and eaten! Hope you'll try the crostata; they're seriously fun to make. LIFE'S UNCERTAIN! EAT DESSERT FIRST.

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  5. @Chaya: Forgot--I have a tutorial on pie making on this blog. In the search space, type Pie 101. Good luck!

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  6. These look lovely. I like the rustic look of crostatas since I'm terrible at making pie crusts. They cover up a lot of mistakes!

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  7. @Linda: Come let me teach you pie crust!
    I make it easy, fun and... uh...you get to
    eat all your mistakes! (which are very few)

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  8. What a fabulous looking pie!!! And looks and sounds delicious.

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  9. What a delicious looking crostata. Love your detective work in determining the origins of the crust recipe. I've got a little Nancy Drew in me too :-) Can't believe I got a week ahead of myself with kiwifruit! It turns out for the best as I'm off to visit my brother in CA tomorrow. I'll join back in next week with papaya.

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I can't wait to hear from you!

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