Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Strawberrry Crostata-Summer is in the Air

Why is it when holidays come around there just never seems to be enough time left in the day to accomplish everything ?  Maybe it has something to do with me trying to jam too much into a week-end !  At least that was the position I found myself in this past Easter week-end.  I have Friday and Saturdays off, so I planned on doing my prep on Friday for the dessert I was planning for our Sunday family Easter gathering.  But besides that prep, I had to plan on the dessert that I was taking to my shellfish foraging class on Easter Saturday.  See what I mean about trying to jam too much into a week-end.  I wanted something sweet and simple for the family gathering and something that would keep in the refrigerator Friday,Saturday and most of the early part of Sunday and still look and taste fabulous. 

Then this recipe caught my eye on the LA Times web site, or I should say the picture of the beautiful Strawberry Crostata stopped me dead in my tracks. I wasn't even going to read the recipe because I thought something that gorgeous was going to take far too much prep time. But I gave in and perused the recipe. Hmm, that crust sounded easy,no complications; add some mascarpone,top with strawberries,finish off with currant jam and Cointreau; wow this could be done in just a couple of hours. And I was right ,the most complicated part of the process was selecting the strawberries and slicing them. The crust for this is almost like a shortbread and it baked up beautifully. It sat cooling while I worked on my blueberry hand pies. Once it cooled, I added the mascarpone and the strawberries. I wrapped it up ,popped it in the refrigerator until Sunday and voila, just as pretty and fresh looking as when I placed it in the refrigerator ! I encourage you to make it. Your friends will think you spent days slaving over it and I won't tell that you didn't. It's also a nice light dessert to have when there is usually so much other food to have. The mascarpone compliments the fresh strawberries-just a slight creamy sweetness lets the flavor of the strawberries shine.

And speaking of those strawberries- I found some beautiful organic ones from Mexico at my favorite grocery store. They were dark and sweet and oh so good. One of the best things about working with strawberries is how wonderful your work area smells as you are slicing and trimming. It takes me right to summer -I love that smell and all the memories that come with it. The taste of a wild strawberry-so sweet and delicate; the first time I tasted a French Gariguette Strawberry in St. Remy de Provence-the heat from the sun captured inside the sweetness of the berry; my first strawberry milkshake from Gallaghers in Duquesne-thick and creamy with chunks of fresh strawberry; and my mother's strawberry shortcake-always extra heavy on the strawberries and whipped cream. Oh the list goes on and on. And now I can't wait for summer and the Washington berry crop. The recipes are running through my head and the thought of fresh strawberry preserves,just can't wait for the sight of the first "U-Pick" sign !  Until then, I'll be content with a slice of this crostata and a good cup of coffee.  Bon Appetit.


Strawberry Crostata
Servings: 8

1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
10 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups imported Italian mascarpone cheese
About 2 pints ripe strawberries, hulled and thinly sliced
1/4 cup red currant jelly
2 tablespoons Cointreau

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a mixing bowl. Cut the butter into half-inch thick slices and add to the bowl. Using the tips of your fingers or a pastry blender, work the ingredients together until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add a scant tablespoon or two of cold water and toss until the mixture just clings together. Gather into a ball. Wrap tightly in plastic film and chill 30 minutes.

2. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch spring form pan. Press out evenly across the bottom and about 1 inch up the side. Prick the bottom of the crust all over with a fork. Freeze 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

3. Bake the crust until it is set and lightly browned, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely.

4. Spread the mascarpone evenly over the cooled crust. Arrange the strawberries decoratively over the top in overlapping rows.

5. Combine the jelly and Cointreau in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the jelly dissolves. Lightly brush over the strawberries to glaze. Chill 1 hour before cutting.


Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

The California strawberries at the market right now are not half bad so this would be a perfect muse.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

WOW!!! This is stunning!!!!

Chelly said...

How beatiful is that! I am going to try that this weekend!!