Christmas. New Year. Food Poisoning. Starting a business.
And OOOOOH Honey.
If the holidays don't wear you out from cooking, the last two items in the last sentence will force you to take a break from getting crazy in the kitchen. To clarify, the food poisoning was not the result of my cooking or for that matter, that of friends or family. The blame fell to the deli turkey from a local grocery store. And alas, while the new business is not food-related, it is keeping me mighty busy and feeling challenged again in my professional life.
But now I am back!
I did a decent amount of cooking over Christmas though nothing like the Thanksgiving extravaganza. My cooking exploits had mixed results. I tried making cinnamon rolls for the first time and found out just how temperamental yeast can be. Apparently, my beloved kitchen may not be the right incubator for yeast to do what it should do: rise! After two rounds of making dough, including once at 10 pm on Christmas Eve, I realized I had killed my yeast. I forged on and still made the rolls the next morning. They turned out like little flat hockey pucks. But let me tell you, ain't nothing that a pound of butter and cinnamon can't make better! Flat or not, they were delish. Anyway, when I can figure out how to get the dough to rise, I'll post the recipe.
In the meantime, I also learned that not all crostatas are created equal. In the fall, I made a divine pear and fig crostata. I mean, this dessert made my toes curl it was so good. And it was so easy to make. Easy crust with no dough drama. Delicious filling with the slightly exotic flavor of cardamom.
So why did I not make this again for Christmas? Good question.
I decided to use a different crostata recipe for my Christmas dessert. It was an apple crostata and unfortunately, it was a mess. It turned out okay once it was baked but it was a rocky road to making it look nice. The dough was next to impossible to work with. It was like a triage station in the kitchen on Christmas day as I tried to patch the dough of the crostata together to hold the filling in. The finished product was ... well, fine. But not the rock star quality of the crostata from the fall.
Try this absolutely divine pear and fig crostata. I don't know if it is the cardamom or the way the crust gets golden brown because you brush it with heavy cream but everything about this dessert was perfect. It is the ideal dessert to serve for a dinner party on a cold winter night.
Pear and Fig Crostata
|The finished product in all it's golden brown, bubbly filling goodness glory!|
1 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons (or more) ice water
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon (scant) ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
2 1/4 pounds firm but ripe unpeeled Anjou pears (about 4), cored, each cut into 8 wedges
10 dried but moist Calimyrna figs (about 4 ounces), stemmed, quartered
Heavy whipping cream (for brushing)
2 tablespoons honey
For the crust:
Blend first 4 ingredients in processor. Add butter; using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Remove lid; spoon 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Return lid to processor; using on/off turns, blend mixture until dough forms ball, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dry. Flatten dough into disk; wrap in plastic and chill at least 20 minutes.
For the filling:
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°F. Whisk first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add pears and figs; toss gently. Roll dough out on lightly floured parchment to 14-inch square or round.
Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit