Friday, October 28, 2011

Apple & Pear Crostadas

I've been a busy bee over here, trying to get both my semi-grownup life and my Halloween costume together.  And I've been recruited to be Ryan's official makeup artist tomorrow night.  He's going to be some kind of Satanic demon-priest?  And he wants his look to be perfect.  This guy is putting on the pressure, let me tell ya!

I digress.  Needless to say, between the makeup and the aforementioned roommate situation, I've been a little stressed out.  Which means I've gone into blog-reading overload.  Some people, when stressed, drink. Or cry.  Or clean.  I read blogs.  In fact, on Tuesday I didn't even get out of bed until it was time for my night class.  But before I was forced to put on pants get it together, I was pulled in by that homemaking maven, Martha Stewart.  This woman ALWAYS gets me in trouble.

I was browsing her Thanksgiving recipes (I refuse to think about Christmas yet), and found a recipe for an Apple and Cheddar Crostada.  So, I got to baking and let me tell you, these things are perfection.

Please, try not to drool on your keyboard.  Wanna know how to make this puppy?  Of course you do!  It's so easy even I didn't screw it up!

Okay, here's what you're gonna need:

For the Dough:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water (I just stuck half a cup of water in the freezer for a few minutes while I got my other ingredients together.)
1 cup shredded sharp white cheddar cheese *

Now, for the following directions, you can use a food processor.  I don't own a food processor, and the flour was threatening to kill my blender, so I did this the old-fashioned way: with my hands.  And it was way more fun to make a mess.

1. In a large bowl (or food processor) combine flour and salt.
2.  Add butter, making sure to break up all the butter pats and mix until your dough resembles corn meal.

3. Drizzle 1/4 cup ice water over dough, and work in.  If dough is too dry, add more ice water 1 tbsp. at a time.  Work dough into a ball.  Try not to eat all the raw dough!  

4. *Now, at this point you can add the cheddar cheese.  This recipe makes TWO dough disks, and I only wanted one with cheddar, so at this point I divided my dough in half, and cling-wrapped one dough ball.

I then added 1/2 cup of regular sharp cheddar cheese.  It was what I had on hand, and the dough turned out delicioso, regardless of the cheese color.

5.  Cling-wrap your dough balls and refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
6.  After dough has chilled, roll out into an approximate 13-inch diameter disk, about 1/8 inch thick.  Use a lightly floured surface!  Or you and your counter will hate yourself.  Transfer to a parchment-paper lined baking sheet, and refrigerate another 30 minutes.

A note on parchment paper: I wasn't sure if this project could be completed without it, but I decided not to take the risk.  I'm not sure if it actually effects the baking process, but it definitely makes clean-up a breeze, which totally makes it worth it.  You'll see what I'm talking about.

Meanwhile, in Fruit Land...

While your dough is chillin' like a villain, make yo' fillin'!  Um... I guess if this whole blog thing doesn't work out I can always become a professional bakery rapper?

For the Filling:
2 tart apples (I used Granny Smith but you could also use Gala), 2 McIntosh apples (I used Red Delicious), peeled, cored, and sliced into 1/2-inch wedges
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons lemon juice (Martha suggests fresh.  I use that stuff that comes in a lemon-shaped bottle.  There is NO way I'm squeezing lemons without a juice press.)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup apricot preserves, warmed.
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Coarse sanding sugar, for sprinkling (I don't even know what that is, so I just used regular sugar and everything turned out fine.)
1. Toss together apples, sugar, flour, lemon juice, and cinnamon.

2.  Arrange on your pastry, leaving about a 1 1/2-inch margin.
3.  Fold your edges up.  I kind of overlapped things to make everything stay together.

4.  Brush your crust edges with egg so you get a nice, shiny finish.  Yes, that is leftover acrylic paint left on my brush.  No one was poisoned in the eating of this delicacy so no harm, no foul.  Just do me a favor and don't notify the health department.

5.  Sprinkle top of fruit with sanding sugar (again, granulated worked just fine).

6.  Pop back into the fridge for about 20 minutes so the edges of your crust can firm up.  (If only I could do that for my thighs!)  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
7.  Bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes.  I baked the apple crostada for about an hour at 375, and the pear for 1:20 at 350, and I think the second turned out a little better.  But I have a gas oven, so just check on it about every 30 minutes or so, just to make sure nothing is on fire.

8.  Warm 1/4 cup apricot preserves.  I zapped mine in the microwave for about 45 seconds and it was enough to set it to boiling.  Brush over apples.


I decided to switch things up a bit with the second one, and did a Pear and Brie Crostada.  I already had my non-cheesed dough ball refrigerated and at the ready, and for the filling I used the same recipe above, just with the substitution of 3 Bartlett pears.

I rolled out my dough, and brushed some honey over it.  (I was feeling pretty confident by now and wanted to jazz this one up.  I'm glad I added the honey, it was yumm-o).  I also thinly sliced some Brie cheese and arranged it over the honey, and "smooshed" it out a little with my fingers.

I arranged my pears and baked for 1:20 at 350.  I then pulled it out and...AH!  PRIMORDIAL PIE OOZE!  My pie crust busted a seam and some juices came pouring out during the baking process.  The pears were way juicier than the apples, and fortunately my crostada didn't dry out at all.

Here's the part where you thank whatever deity it is you pray to for the invention of parchment paper.  This stuff is infused with some kind of magic, because that black goo didn't stick to my crust AT ALL, and I just crumpled up the paper and tossed it, as opposed to swearing scrubbing vigorously to get that crap off my baking sheet.  Again, I brushed the finished product with warmed apricot preserves.

These turned out beautifully and I can't even tell you how delicious your house is going to smell while these are baking.  They even passed the boyfriend test!  Of course, Ryan refuses to try the pear one, but he  tore into the apple one, and recommends the addition of Cool-Whip.  Whatever.  I think they're perfect just the way they are. :)

Ryan was amazed I didn't burn the house down, and even more impressed they tasted good (I'm not much of a cook.  I'm notorious for serving burned chicken and under-cooked sausage).  So, there you go!  Go bake some deliciousness, and let me know how it goes!  If you're feeling brave, I'd love to know if you come up with any new flavor combinations.  These are so easy and tasty I think they'll be making frequent re-appearances.

They're even more delicious the next morning as a breakfast tart.  Yep, your mornings just got better.

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