Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Peach Crostata




Crostata is a type of Italian, rustic pie or tart. It is very easy to make, does not require any special baking pan or skills. I make mine in a food processor, which is even easier.

There are many crostata doughs. I have been often experimenting with a basic crostata base adding different types of flour or nuts and trying it with different toppings.

Crostata can be made with almost any seasonal fruit. Even those most juicy once like blueberries or raspberries are good since you can always add extra flour to absorb the juice.

Peach crostata made with local peaches has recently become my favorite crostata variety. Locally grown peaches are now wonderfully sweet and aromatic. For that particular crostata I make a base with whole wheat flour and finish my crostata with pistachios to add crunchiness.

So today, I offer you a summer peach crostata. When I serve it, straight from the oven, it often disappears before it even cools down completely.



Peach Crostata

Ingredients:
6 peaches,
1/4 cup brown sugar,
1 tbsp all purpose flour,
2 tbsp pistachios (preferably Iranian, for their green color)
1 and 1/2 stick cold, unsalted butter,
1 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour,
1/2 cup wheat flour,
1/2 tsp salt,
1 tbsp sugar,
1/4 cup iced water.

Preparation:
1. Put both flours, salt, and 1 tbsp sugar in a food processor. Pulse until blended. Add butter cut into cubes and pulse again until crumbles form. Pour in iced water and run the engine until a smooth dough forms.
2. Place a dough between plastic foil and make a disc. Cool the dough for at least an hour.
3. Cut the peaches in halves, remove the stones and cut into thick slices.
4. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll it out into a 16-inch large circle.
5. Mix brown sugar and flour and dust on top of the dough.
6. Arrange slices of peaches on top, leaving a two inches wide edge around. Sprinkle the top with pistachios.



7. Preheat oven to 400F.
8. Fold the edges on top of fruits and let the crostata chill in a refrigerator again, for 10-15 minutes.



9. Bake crostata for about 45 minutes until light gold and peaches bubble.
Cool down at serve.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Cauliflower in a Herbs and Mustard Sauce




When I am in Poland I like my cauliflower to be cooked and served in a traditional Polish way, sprinkled with fried breadcrumbs and accompanied by a tomato and onion salad. But this dish tastes best in Poland where cauliflower and tomatoes taste different than here. So whenever I make a cauliflower here, I am always looking for a recipe that is not similar to that Polish dish.

Since this is a high season for a locally grown cauliflower I have been buying it more often at my local farmers market. Besides the traditional white ones, now they also come in yellow and purple varieties, which look even more appealing. Just recently, I tried two new cauliflower dishes from different cuisines. Today the first of them, coming from France.

This one is a simple dish with the cauliflower being cooked or roasted and finished with a traditional French sauce Gribiche. Gribiche is used with many cooked vegetable, mainly asparagus, green beans, and potatoes. Since it is slightly spicy thanks to mustard and cornichons it also tastes great on a cauliflower, which is rather bland. The dish can be made ahead and if you wish to serve it warm just roast it shortly in the oven and serve it immediately after cooking or serve as a cold appetiser or a salad.



Cauliflower with a Herbs and Mustard Sauce
(Serves four)

Ingredients:
1 medium cauliflower (cooked until soft but firm, in water with a tbsp of salt and a tbsp of sugar),
2 hard boiled eggs,
1 tsp Dijon mustard,
1 garlic clove, minced,
1 tbsp lemon juice,
1/4 cup light oil such a grape seeds,
1 tbsp capers,
4 small cornichons, cut in thick slices,
1 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped,
1 tbsp flat leaved parsley, chopped,
2 tbsp chives, chopped,
salt and pepper to taste.

Preparation:
1. Place the cooked cauliflower in a large bowl,
2. In a bowl of food processor place eggs, mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and oil and run the engine until a smooth sauce forms.
3. Add capers, cornichons, parsley, and tarragon (leave the chives aside) and purée the sauce again.



4. Try the sauce and season it with salt and pepper according to taste. Drizzle the sauce over the hot or room temperature cauliflower.
5. Sprinkle the cauliflower with chopped chives and serve.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Parmesan Cream




I found very similar recipes for this cream in both Italian and French cuisine books. They seemed rather simple to make, especially if you are familiar with the bain marie method, and looked very delicious. Both recipes called for almost the same ingredients although the Italian was richer because of the heavy whipping cream, and the French was richer in eggs but lighter on cream. Just by reading of all the nice ingredients of this recipe I imagined that it could taste really nice so recently, when I bought a big chunk of genuine Italian Parmesan, I thought it was good time to experiment with it.

I made my own version, which is a combination of both recipes and lighter than any of them. I cut on eggs and I also replaced the heavy whipping cream with a lighter cream. The dish came out very nice, delicate and almost fluffy. It was had a very appealing presentation as I made it in small ramekins, so it could be used as an elegant and tasty dinner starter.



Parmesan Cream

Ingredients:
1 nd 1/2 cup table cream,
2 tsp corn starch flour,
2 large organic eggs,
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese,
a pinch of grated nutmeg,
salt and pepper,
balsamic vinegar glaze for finish.

Preparation:
1. Put the cream in a medium pot. Mix the corn starch in a small bowl with two tbsps of water until smooth and add to the cream. Mix well and heat the mixture on a medium heat until it boils. Season with salt pepper and nutmeg.
2. Mix together eggs with Parmesan. Add a little bit of cream custard to the eggs and cheese and mix well. Pour the mixture to the pot with cream and stir until smooth.
3. Preheat oven to 300 F. Butter 6 small ramekins with butter and divide the cheese custard.
4. Place the ramekins in a baking form with higher walls and fill up with hot water up to the half of their height.



5. Bake 30 minutes until set.
6. Cool slightly and remove from ramekins on plates after loosening them first around with a knife.
7. Serve drizzled with balsamic vinegar glaze, baguettes and salad.