Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Savory Crostadas and The Perfect Aioli

I've been baking this season's bounty into lots of delectable galettes and crostadas, i.e. free-form pies.

The tender crumb of buttery crust - recently flecked with citrus or parmesan and black pepper - perfectly cradles sweet or savory fillings. My impulse of late is almost an automatic, "oooh that would be great made into a galette!" You can see why….

One of yesterday's projects was to use the second disk of dough I'd made when prepping the tomato-olive-scape crostada, which - thank you all! - was very loved on Instagram. 

For the broccoli galette, I devised a base layer of barely-steamed waxy potato slices, mascarpone smeared over the potatoes (heavily seasoned with black pepper and garlic, grated on a microplane), and piled on top of that, delicate broccoli stems which I'd harvested while at Seven Arrows last week, where I've been making some time to help out with the huge work that is the season's planting and harvesting.

The dough itself is magic. It is made particularly pliable with the addition of a goldeny yolk egg - also thanks to Farmer Meg and her sweet, plucky free roaming hens

I use this dough often and modify the add-ins (citrus zest/ cheese/ herbs/ black pepper/ etc) depending on what I plan to make.

After thoroughly enjoying how folks responded upon seeing this creation, my week got even better when "proper bad-ass LA made aprons" co. Hedley and Bennett decided to share it, too. 

Which - I am reminded of an important aside - Saveur Magazine is holding their annual Blog Awards *right now* and have created a new category for Best Food Instagram. I pour my heart into Instagram every day and would very much appreciate your nomination! Here is the link to vote - you can do so as often as you like, until July 18th. -> <- Best Food Instagram - yippeeee!

Okay, back to the tarts…. ;)

Made with the same parmesan-black pepper-flecked dough, this tart has a base layer of goat cheese I'd made from milk brought home from Seven Arrows' Farm, and seasoned with herbs, boursin-style.

After a good schmear of that onto the pastry (to help the crust from becoming soggy from the juicy tomatoes) I placed tomato slices on top, then studded the surface with torn olives. I had Kalamatas; use whatever you have, in the directions of something deeply savory. 

Before folding the pastry onto its contents I scattered thinly sliced garlic scapes for a little more punch, and then as I folded, sealed the pastry seams with beaten egg.

This crostada was quite easy to make once the dough had been prepped. Plan the time to make the dough, because the results are completely worth it.

Tomato, olive, garlic scape crostada

for the dough
1 1/2 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sticks butter, cut into small cubes, freezer cold
1 pasture-raised egg
2 tbsp cider vinegar plus 4 tbsp ice water
1/4 cup Parmiggiano-Reggiano, finely grated
lots of freshly cracked black pepper

for the filling
3-5 tomatoes, depending on their size, sliced into rounds
1/4-1/3 cup goat cheese, boursin, etc.
a handful of pitted olives, torn into halves
2-3-inch segment of a garlic scape, sliced thinly
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 pasture-raised egg, lightly beaten, for brushing onto pastry

Stir together all dry ingredients in a large bowl - flours, salt, grated cheese, black pepper.

Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter, just until pea-sized bits remain. Add the egg and cut in to incorporate. Drizzle in vinegar-water mixture a little at a time, cutting the liquid into the dough, pausing to check and see if dough holds together when squeezed between your fingers. Use only as much as needed for the dough to come together.

Empty dough out evenly onto two large segments of cellophane. With your hands underneath, use opposite diagonal ends of the cellophane to press dough together, into a solid mass. Seal dough in cellophane, then pat into a disk. Repeat with second batch.

Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes to allow it to mellow. Remove it 5-10 minutes prior to rolling out. Makes two crostadas, one top+bottom crust pie, or, freeze the second disk (as I did), wrapped in cellophane and foil, then placed inside a resealable bag, for up to three months.

Unwrap dough and sandwich between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper. Roll out into a circle, 1/4-1/8-inch thick. Transfer pastry to a sheet pan and refrigerate at any point during this process, if it becomes smeary (aka not cold enough).

Peel away the top layer of parchment and begin: leave a 1 1/2-2 inch border and slather on the goat cheese or boursin, followed by the tomato slices. Nestle olive pieces around, and then scatter surface with sliced scapes.

Season the whole thing with freshly ground pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil, then crimp the pastry over the fillings, brushing the seams with egg wash and pressing to seal. Evenly brush the pastry surface with egg wash, then chill for at least a half hour, so that it retains its shape once in the blazing hot oven.

During this time, preheat oven to 425 degrees, with oven rack positioned in the bottom third. Transfer chilled crostada to the oven and bake until cheese bubbles and crust is deeply golden, about 40 minutes. I like to check about halfway through to rotate the pastry for even browning.

When ready, use the sheet of parchment to slide finished crostada to a wire rack to cool. This delightful tart can be enjoyed hot, cold, or at room temp. Perfect for brunch, dinner, or your next picnic.

Broccoli, potato, and garlicky mascarpone galette
2 waxy potatoes, such as Yukon gold, peeled and sliced
4 oz mascarpone
2-4 cloves garlic, depending on your taste
1 handful thin broccoli stems, or 1 head broccoli, cut into thin florets
sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
good olive oil, for drizzling
buttermilk, for brushing

Use the same pastry recipe for this galette.

Lightly steam broccoli until stems turn bright green. Shock in an ice water bath. Briefly steam the potato slices, enough to soften.

Use a microplane to finely grate your preferred amount of garlic into a small bowl (or mince it with a knife and transfer). Add mascarpone, season with salt and pepper, and stir to combine. Set aside.

Roll out pastry as detailed in the tomato crostada recipe. As above, pastry should be transferred on its parchment paper onto a baking sheet once you are ready to make the galette.

Pat potato slices dry and arrange in a concentric circle leaving a 1 1/2-inch border, and slightly overlapping them as you go, as your base. Slather mascarpone onto potatoes. Drain and shake broccoli dry (or pat dry with a tea towel). Measure and cut broccoli into lengths so that when arranged onto the pastry, their florets meet in the center (or, as you like - feel free to get creative). I had enough to make two layers of broccoli; consider which stems are most attractive as you make yours and save them for the top layer.

Fold dough onto fillings, painting the seams with a little buttermilk and crimping to seal, until the galette is complete. Paint buttermilk evenly onto pastry and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour (or freeze for 15 minutes).

For this preparation I transferred the cold galette onto my pizza steel, which I'd placed to preheat in the oven. The results worked out quite well. If you have a stone or steel, I'd recommend doing the same! Bake with similar timing/attention as for the tomato crostada.

I was extremely pleased with how this broccoli galette turned out and will definitely be making it again! If you make it too, please let me know what you think. ;)


Another recent, vocal request has been for my aioli. I made a caper version for my Anthology column some time back, paired with aromatics-poached salmon. I referred to that recipe, minus the capers, for a recent dinner party. I served it with all manner of steamed and crunchy veg that night and was so present to my guests, I forgot to document the evening (!!).

Here is a plate of leftovers we devoured, the morning after.

And, more of the richly hued leftovers (which you could say I didn't mind having extras of), slathered onto quick & easy pan roasted fish - a seriously great recipe unto its own and included in my new book, Kid Chef. This unexpectedly delicious meal made for an incredible midday interlude.

Perfect Aioli

4 pasture-raised egg yolks
1-2 cloves garlic, finely grated on a microplane, or minced
a pinch of kosher salt
juice from half a lemon
grapeseed oil and good olive oil, to emulsify 

Rest a small mixing bowl onto a tea towel draped over a pot of similar size. This helps the bowl stay put so you can use both hands. 

Whisk together the egg yolks, salt, and garlic. Squeeze a little lemon juice and whisk again. In the thinnest stream, drizzle grapeseed oil as you whisk continuously. You'll add about 1/4 cup or so, stopping at intervals to make sure the mixture has emulsified. Keep whisking! The mixture should thicken; when ready, the aioli should appear plump. 

Add the olive oil now, again in the thinnest drizzle. Add about 1/8-1/4 cup, whisking continuously. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.