What a treat! I have been invited to participate in the Secret Recipe Club twice this month. I'm normally in Group A but was blessed to be able to cook from the beautiful blog of Mrs. Debby (A Foodie Wife) this month as well.
Usually it takes me several days to select a recipe to prepare for the SRC. I methodically scroll through photos on the blog I've been assigned to, thinking about each one carefully before making my choice.
But since I was filling in for someone else in Group B this month, I only had three days to select, prepare, and blog about something from Mrs. Debby's site!
I relish a good challenge.
The search didn't take long. As soon as I pulled up A Foodie Wife, I saw what I wanted to make in the photo header. A gorgeous golden crust enveloped a creamy, cheesy, vegetable mixture. I looked through Mrs. Debby's alphabetical index until I found it: Swiss Chard, Ricotta and Leek Crostata. Her blog is a true feast for the eyes. Mrs. Debby's been blogging since 2008, and she's good at it! She has cataloged many recipes in these last 3 years. She resides in beautiful Monterey, California. (Insert envy here.) She loves to cook from her favorite Food Network stars' shows: in fact, this crostata is the brain-child of Anne Burrell. Mrs. Debby and I share a love of whole foods, and an appreciation for what's local and in season. Like I said: it was a pleasure to be able to cook from her blog.
I decided to prepare the crostata on Friday afternoon. After supper that night, my husband and I loaded our pajama-clad boys into the car and drove around town to look at Christmas lights. Have you all seen the Christmas lights that are synchronized by radio frequency to the music of a local radio station? I have to admit: I'm old-fashioned. As we sat there in the car staring at the lights and listening to the synchronized heavy-metal Christmas music radio station, I felt like my brain would short circuit from the over-stimulation of it all. Timothy (5 years old) said it kind of made his tummy hurt. Later he told me that his favorite display was the fake reindeer with white lights that slowly moved their heads back and forth. That's my boy!
As my family recovered from Christmas Light Nausea in the car, I ran into our little local grocery store to pick up some Swiss Chard, leeks and ricotta cheese to make this recipe. But guess what?! Not a single beautiful leaf of Swiss Chard was in sight. I decided to go with kale instead, and I picked up a red bell pepper so I could inject a dash of color into the recipe. As I made my way to the dairy section, I discovered the shelf for ricotta cheese was empty, too! So I made my own.
As soon as the sun came up on Saturday morning, I began to prepare the crust.
Mascarpone cheese is the secret here!
In my food processor, I mixed flour, Parmesan, mascarpone, salt,
cayenne pepper, and a stick of cold butter.
Until it looked lovely and crumbly like this.
Then I "pulsed in" two eggs.
I refrigerated the dough while I prepared the filling.
Then I got the veggies ready.
Slice off the tough greens and the root tips.
Then slice each leek in half, and each half into 1/4-inch slices.
Again: I substituted kale for Swiss Chard.
I cut away the tough stem and chopped the leaves into inch-long pieces.
Leeks and kale: The Green Team.
I also used a red bell pepper for some pretty color.
And I diced it up fairly small.
In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 2 crushed cloves of garlic.
Add some red pepper flakes.
Get the garlic really nice and browned.
(We're making garlic-infused olive oil here; we'll be removing the garlic.)
Use the garlic for something else or toss it
(or pop it in your mouth for a yummy snack).
Add two tablespoons of water to the garlic-infused olive oil.
Then add the red bell pepper and the leeks;
saute over medium-high heat for about 8-10 minutes, until pepper has softened.
Add the kale and saute until it wilts, about 2-3 minutes. Remove veggies from heat.
In a separate bowl, mix together ricotta, Parmesan, Goat cheese, and 2 eggs.
Get the slightly-cooled veggies; incorporate into the ricotta mixture.
Remove the dough from the fridge (if it's been in there for more than 30 minutes,
let it sit out for about 10 minutes or so to make it easier to roll).
Roll it out on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Get the cheese and veggie mixture...
Spread it on the dough, leaving a 2-3 inch border on the edge.
Fold the crust over the filling...
until it looks like this.
Make an egg wash, whisking together an egg with some water.
And brush it on the crust to make it shiny and golden brown as it bakes.
Bake for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees.
Enjoy the lovely fragrance as it fills your home.
It's the Christmas Crostata!
Thanks again, Mrs. Debby, for the lovely recipe!
Please hop over and visit her blog. It's full of wonderful recipes and cooking hints.
Here's the printable recipe.
Kale, Leek, and Ricotta Crostata
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup Mascarpone cheese
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 stick cold butter, cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped into 1-inch lengths*
2 leeks, tough green tops removed, cut in half lengthwise and then cut crosswise into ¼-inch lengths
1 red bell pepper, finely diced (seeded and stem removed)
2 tablespoons water
1 pinch salt
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan**
1/2 cup Goat's Cheese
Pinch cayenne pepper
Egg wash: 1 whole egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
To prepare the crust:
Combine the flour, Parmesan, Mascarpone, salt, cayenne and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until it becomes very dry and crumbly. Add the eggs and pulse until the mixture forms a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
NOTE: You can make this crust a day or two ahead and store in the refrigerator. Allow about 15 minutes to come slightly to room temperature to work the dough better with a rolling pin.
To prepare filling:
Place the olive oil in a a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper. When the garlic has become golden brown and is very aromatic, remove and discard it.
Add water to the garlic-infused olive oil that's in the skillet. Then, add leeks and bell pepper to oil/water mixture. Saute over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, until pepper has softened. Add kale leaves and saute, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until leaves are wilted. Season vegetables with salt and remove from heat.
In a large bowl combine the ricotta, Parmesan, Goat cheese, eggs, cayenne. Add the slightly cooled vegetable mixture. Mix to thoroughly combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed (it will). Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to rest on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes.
Place a large sheet of parchment paper on the counter. Dust with flour. Roll the dough into a large circle about 1/4 inch thick. (Don't worry if the edges look uneven; you will be folding the edges over the filling.)
Transfer dough and parchment paper to a large baking sheet; don't worry if some of the dough hangs over the sides.
Put the filling in a large circle in the center of the rolled-out dough, leaving a 3 to 4-inch border of dough along the outside edge.
Fold the dough up around the filling to make a “free-form pie”.
Brush the top of the dough with egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the crust is firm, golden brown and shiny, about 45 to 50 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing, this will allow it to up for easier slicing.
Serve hot or at room temperature.
*The original recipe called for Swiss Chard, stems removed and sliced into 1/4-inch pieces, and leaves chopped into 1-inch lengths. Substitute Swiss Chard for kale.
**The original recipe did not contain Goat's cheese. It had one full cup of Parmesan.
Original recipe from Anne Burrell; Food Network