Tuesday, May 25, 2010

freeform pie & when pigs fly...

I used to despise certain foods.

Now, I love them.

My taste changes truly excite me! The less foods I dislike-- the better.

I like to see myself as open-minded and adventurous with nothing to hold me back from truly tasting cultures, practices and creativity that surround us daily in what we eat.

Raw onions,
briny capers,
spicy treats and mustard
used to be perpetually avoidable for me (sad, but true).

Now I welcome them with open arms.

The next "I hate" tastes to tackle:
hard boiled eggs, salmon, cottage cheese & raw oysters.
Ugh. When pigs fly...

My recent 3-day holiday weekend began with:

sparkling gems,
cosmopolitans &
dancing in my head.

The time had come for Sex and the City 2 and I was thrilled!
My girlfriend and I arrived glam and ready for:
cocktails & classy debauchery
at the newest Movie Tavern on 7th street.

I opted to sip Carrie's Royale complete with Moet champagne, raspberry and fresh mint while my girlfriend settled on the Cosmo-rita.

(yes, cheesy but we loved it!)

After a whirlwind Saturday night, I settled in for an all day cooking frenzy the next morning.

On my radar:
fresh pasta to recipe test &
fruit tarts for an appropriate Memorial Day BBQ

I started with my pasta recipe-- eager to contribute comforting ingredients with flavorful techniques and bright summer herbs.

Pine Nut and Ricotta Raviolo with Roast Cauliflower & Basil Butter

This recipe is an interesting combination of flavors:

sweet ricotta + basil
unctuous fresh rolled pasta + butter
earthy, charred roasted cauliflower

Yields 12 large raviolos.

Roast Cauliflower:

1 cauliflower head, cut into large chunks
2 T olive oil
1 t salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Gently toss cauliflower chunks with oil and salt. Roast approximately 40 minutes, turning often, until dark brown and caramelized.

3/4 c part skim ricotta
1 t lemon zest
1 t lemon juice
1 t minced basil
2 T toasted pine nuts (plus additional for garnish)
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
4 sheets fresh rolled pasta
1 circle cutter approximately 2 inches in diameter

Combine ricotta, lemon, basil, pine nuts, red pepper flakes and black pepper in small bowl. Lay out one sheet of pasta. Arrange 6 dollops of filling (about 1 tablespoon each) evenly on pasta sheet allowing for equal edges around.
Brush around each filling an egg wash in a circular motion the size of your circular cutter. Top with the second pasta sheet and cut out 6 circular raviolos. Repeat procedure with remaining two pasta sheets.

Simmer ravioli in boiling water approximately 3 minutes. Serve beside roasted cauliflower. Drizzle with basil butter and a sprinkling of remaining toasted pine nuts.

Basil butter:

4 T softened butter
1/4 c fresh basil leaves
salt to taste

Combine ingredients in a food processor. Melt and keep warm to serve over warm pasta.
After I tackled my pasta dough, I tackled my free-form pie dough-- one of my favorite sweets to make.

This pie dough is savory and buttery and the fruit boasts an incredible natural sweetness with the slight enhancement of a sugary accompaniment.

The trick to a buttery, flaky crust and ideal crostada is keeping everything as cold as possible until the tart hits the oven.

Nectarine & Blueberry Crostada with a Pineapple Glaze and Shaved Nutmeg

Pate brisee (pie dough):

1.5 c AP flour
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and cold
1 t salt
8 T ice water

Fruit filling:

4 nectarines, sliced uniformly
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 c sugar
1 T lemon zest
2 T turbinado sugar
sprinkling of fresh grated nutmeg
1 egg, whisked and thinned with 1 T water
1/2 c pineapple preserves, heated and thinned with 1 T lemon juice

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. With fingertips,
"cut" in butter to dry mixture until butter is pea shaped.

One tablespoon at a time, add ice water until a homogenous dough forms. Knead dough several times, careful not to overwork, and form into a flat disk. Cover with plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss sliced nectarines and blueberries with sugar and lemon zest. Refrigerate to macerate.

Brush flour onto a cool, dry surface. Roll out chilled disk into a larger circle-- about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer dough circle to baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Chill on sheet for 5 minutes to firm up dough.

To assemble crostada, arrange macerated sliced nectarines in a decorative pattern leaving a 1/2 inch outside border to later fold over. Sprinkle with blueberries and turbinado sugar.
Carefully fold over edges to seal crostada around fruit. Add your egg wash-- brush whisked egg mixture atop crust. Finish by sprinkling crust and fruit with grated nutmeg.
Bake for approximately 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown. While crostada is cooling, brush tops of fruit and crust with heated pineapple preserves to add sheen and sweetness. Cut into squares and serve warm.

One bite of this
tangy confection
and you'll be
floating on Cloud 9.

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