Recipes and Ramblings in Italy

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Recipe of the Week (March 4, 2016)

Posted by William Abruzzo on March 5, 2016 at 12:35 AM



Crostata di Prugne e' Noce (Rustic Plum and Walnut Tart)

      This week's recipe takes us to the hills of FRIULI-GIULIA-VENEZIA. The small oval-shaped plums known as “Italian Plums” are sweet and flavorful. You can find them in most supermarkets in the United States towards the end of summer. This variety of plum grows throughout northern Italy and neighboring Slovenia and Croatia, where plums are cultivated on a much larger scale to meet the demands for “sljivovica”, a traditional plum brandy. If you travel through the countryside of these regions in late summer, you are sure to see groves of plum trees full of ripe fruit that are shades of deep purple and blue. It is quite a beautiful sight! With firm flesh and soft skin, Italian plums are perfect for baking in a rustic tart called “crostata”. Here is an easy crostata recipe that is sure to please. For a rustic presentation, make an open faced tart by folding the edges up and over the filling. If you prefer, bake the crostata in a pie dish and arrange strips of dough in a fancy lattice pattern on top.

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Ingredients:

 All Purpose Pre-sifted Flour (3 cups)

 Vegetable Shortening (¾ cup)

 Butter (¼ cup)

 Egg (1)

 Salt (1 tsp)

 Cold Water (about 2/3 cup)

 Italian Plums (2 lbs -about 12 to14)

 Walnuts (1/3 cup chopped)

 Cinnamon (¼ tsp)

 Sugar (¼ cup and 1 tbs)

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        Chop the walnuts. Slice the plums in half, remove the pits, toss them with the cinnamon and ¼ cup of sugar, and set them to the side. Place the flour in a mixing bowl and incorporate the salt. Cut the shortening and butter into the flour and work it with your hands until you achieve the texture of oatmeal. Add the cold water, a few tablespoons at a time, until the dough pulls together into a ball.

 .

        Next, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will make it easier to transport from your work surface to the baking sheet. Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased baking sheet, and then remove the wrap.

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        Arrange the plum halves, cut side up, in a pattern of concentric circles in the center of the dough, staying about 3 inches in from the edges. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over top, and then 1 tablespoon of sugar. Fold and crease the outer edges of the dough up and over the plums to make a rustic open-faced tart. Place the crostata in a preheat 375 degree oven. After 20 minutes, brush the dough lightly with egg that has been beaten with a splash of water. Continue baking for another 40 to 50 minutes or until golden brown. Serve the crostata at room temperature. Serves 4 to 6 adults.


Categories: Desserts + Liqueurs

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Roll Out Pie Dough with Ease Using Plastic Wrap

This is an old trick I learned years ago from my mother. The next time you bake a pie, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap. This will prevent the dough from sticking to your rolling pin and will make it easier to transport the dough from your work surface to the pie dish or baking sheet.

Cover your entire work surface with plastic wrap and sprinkle it lightly with flour. Turn the dough onto the wrap, pat it down to 1 inch thickness, sprinkle it lightly with flour, and then cover it with a second layer of wrap. Roll out the dough to just less than ¼ inch thickness and remove the top layer of wrap. Lift the dough using the bottom layer of wrap, turn it on to a lightly greased pie dish or baking sheet, and then remove the wrap. Its quick and easy! 

Tips on Italian Ingredients


 Frying Tomato Paste Enhances the Flavor and Adds Depth to Your Dish

Many recipes direct you to stir tomato paste into a sauce, soup or stew. However, frying the tomato paste first fully develops its flavor and eliminates any raw or metallic taste. It is a quick and easy way to enhance the flavor of your dish. Tomato paste should always be added at the beginning of a recipe, rather than at the end. This allows its flavor to marry with the dish. Add it immediately after sautéing your aromatics in olive oil or rendered fat. When the aromatics are soft, push them to one side of your pot or frying pan. Place a dollop of tomato paste on the other side, tilt the pot or frying pan to pool the oil around the tomato paste, and let it gently sizzle for about 2 minutes.  After the tomato paste has fried, incorporate it into the aromatics and then add the liquid and other ingredients to complete your sauce, soup or stew. 

Just Picked From My Italian Vegetable Garden!

 Zucchini Blossoms 

My Italian Heritage

 My Great Grandparents, Vita and Onofrio Abruzzo, from the town of Santa Margherita di Belice, Sicily pictured here with my grandfather Vito "Bill" in the center.

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