Before I ever started writing a food blog, I was reading food blogs. Many, many of them. My favorites are listed on the right-hand side of this page — those are the ones I wholeheartedly endorse. I do so because I can count on each of them, albeit for different things. When I need to know what to cook for RJ (and am unconcerned about calorie intake), I visit the Pioneer Woman. When I am feeling healthy and adventurous, I’ll often check in with Molly. And when I’m in the mood to dream of Paris, I click into Clothilde’s site. Other blogs I read daily, because they post frequently and because they provide not only recipes but also reviews, interesting links, and unique perspectives. One of these is Adam’s Amateur Gourmet site.
Adam is a reliable and lovable source, especially because he is so straightforward about his ‘amateur’ status. His pictures aren’t pristine like Deb’s, and he doesn’t have pastry chef credentials like David. But he’s witty (see his comic strip posts) and unpretentious (he did a post about the books in the Momofuku Ko bathroom) and he makes a mean pork roast. What else could you want in a daily pick-me-up read?
Anyway, I mention Adam because he hasn’t steered me wrong yet (though I’ll admit I haven’t gone up every alley he recommends: Janet Jackson Breast Cupcakes, anyone?). His roasted broccoli (via Ina Garten) is a life-changer, and he has given me many a fine cookbook recommendation, thus feeding my addiction. So when he suggested, nay, ordered me to go Crostata Crazy, I did. I cut up some nectarines and pitted some cherries and while I intended to cheat on the pie crust and use Pillsbury, circumstances (read: Whole Foods is not actually a supermarket) forced me to make my own and I’m glad I did. All the work was done by my Cuisinart — all I had to do was measure 4 or 5 pantry ingredients, pulse, then roll out the dough after a half hour in the fridge. The results? Impressive, to say the least, and bursting with summer flavors. A quarter of the recipe below makes a crostata for two. Make the whole batch to have pie dough on hand for the next time and a dessert for six on the table in an hour.
Cherry and Nectarine Crostata, adapted from Napa Style’s Michael Chiarello via Amateur Gourmet
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup (1/2 pound) chilled unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
1/4 cup ice water, or more if needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups of fruit of your favorite combination: pitted fresh cherries, sliced nectarines, berries, apples, diced rhubarb, etc.
1/4 cup granulated sugar (adjust to your taste and the type of fruits used)
1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk beaten for egg wash
2 teaspoons coarse sugar (like Sugar in the Raw)
Make the tart dough: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Stir together the 1/4 cup ice water and the vanilla; sprinkle the water over the mixture in the processor and pulse just until a dough forms, adding a little extra ice water if necessary. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a 1-inch-thick round. Wrap 1 disk tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour; freeze the other for a future use.
Put a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 425ºF for 45 minutes. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling to soften it slightly.
Place the dough round between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a 13-inch round, flouring the round lightly as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Remove the top sheet of parchment. Slide a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet under the bottom sheet of parchment.
Make the filling: Combine the fruit, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl and toss well. Fill the center of the dough round with the fruit in an even layer, leaving a border of about 1 1/2 inches. Fold the border up and over the fruit to make a rim. Brush the rim with egg wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Trim the excess parchment with scissors.
Use the pizza peel or baking sheet to transfer the crostata, still with parchment underneath, to the oven, sliding it, with the paper, directly onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is nicely browned and the cherries are bubbling, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven with the peel or baking sheet and let cool on a rack for 15 minutes before serving. Serve warm.