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Summer’s Here! (sort of)

May 17, 2010

I got all excited last week because we had so many consecutive days of sunshine and warmth.  So Friday night I decided to have our own Maple Leaf Happy Hour (which ended up being much later, since our friends J & C couldn’t get here until 7:30).  It turned out quite deliciously.

I discovered this really great pizza recipe at Eggs on Sunday, a northern New York food blog.  It involves a fig spread, goat cheese, prosciutto, and arugula–a fantastic combination of pizza toppings.  The fig spread took a long time to simmer down, but the actual hands-on time is minimal.  I made a double-batch of caramelized onions (2 medium onions) and used the other half to top the second pizza, which was pesto on half and tomato sauce on half, with the onions, Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio cheese, and sauteed chicken.  J, C, and A were duly impressed.

Also because of the summery weather, and it being Friday, I decided to make something with berries for dessert.  It ended up being a strawberry-rhubarb crostata with almond crumble topping.  Crostatas are way easier than pies, I think; the dough is thicker and free-form, so there’s no rolling out to paper-thin crust and then having to patch together all the dough pieces that fell apart when you tried to transfer it from rolling surface to pie dish (but maybe that’s just me). 

This is a mish-mash of various recipes with not-very-precise measurements for the filling or topping.  But in case you want to try, here it is:

Crust (adapted from a Bon Appetit recipe):

  • 1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/3 cup (or more) ice water
  1. Mix first 5 ingredients in food processor. Add butter; pulse until butter is pebbly.
  2. Add 1/3 cup ice water. Pulse until dough forms itself into a ball (add additional teaspoons of ice water if dough is really dry).  Press all bits of dough into a flat disk.  Wrap in saran wrap and chill (45 min. or more. Can be made 1 day ahead.).  Let soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
  3. On lightly floured parchment paper, roll dough into a 14-inch round.  Slide parchment paper onto baking sheet and refrigerate again (30 min.).

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen diced rhubarb (next time I’d go more rhubarb, maybe 1 cup)
  • 1-1.5 lbs. fresh strawberries, quartered (if using more rhubarb, use fewer strawberries)
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2-4 Tbsp. cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit until ready to use.  (Probably not longer than a few hours.)

Crumble Topping (adapted from Small Batch Baking)

  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour (could probably substitute whole wheat)
  • 3.5 Tbsp. (1/2 pkg) almond paste
  • 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Throw all ingredients into food processor and mix until crumbly.

Assembly:

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Mound fruit mixture in center of dough disk, leaving about a 2-inch border.  Fold the edges of the dough over the edges of the fruit, pinching to hold the dough closed.  You can brush the dough with beaten egg–I think this makes it stickier as well as glossier.  Sprinkle crumble topping over fruit.
  3. Bake 50-55 minutes, until crust is golden brown.  Cool at least 30 min.  Top with ice cream if desired.  (And A always desires ice cream with pie.)

Note:  I had some structural integrity issues that resulted in fruit juices oozing all over the baking sheet.  Next time, I might use the egg glaze if that would make it stay closed.

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