Nonna's Crostata

My maternal grandmother was a true Italian socialite.  She had the most active social life of anyone that I have ever met.  When I was growing up, spending time with her meant going to afternoon coffee dates with her friends.  Playing canasta or poker at the country club most of Saturday afternoons and if there was a birthday, wedding, baby birth, baptism or any type of celebration within a 50-mile radius in our city, she was there, my sister and I at her heels.     

She was generous, funny, and knew EVERYONE. What she was not, however, was a fan of a kitchen.  Unlike my paternal grandmother, Nonna Franca was not a slave to her kitchen.  She could cook, but it was easy dishes, something that she could put together fast and be out of there to meet her social circle at the next bingo game.

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GCC: Menu 4 - Wild Mushroom Tartlets

After last weeks difficulties with the Empanadas, I was a bit worried going in with the Gutsy Cook menu.  First it involved making another dough for the tarts, Hollandaise sauce (A first for me) and my cooking schedule this past weekend sort of exploded all over the place, up till late saturday I was not even sure I was going to be able to make them at all.

But, once I’m committed to something, its hard for me to say no.

So, I started with a bit of research about dough that gets used for the tartles and found that the recipe in the Kitchen Bible is pretty standard to everything that is out there.  In fact it was the same recipe in 5 different cookbooks that I use to cross-reference.

Relief flow through me.  This was going to be a piece of cake.

And it was.

The dough is pretty easy, if you use your handy food processor, which forever and ever will be my go to for making pie crust, tart dough and anything that involves the words “until it resembles coarse bread crumbs”.  Because, I’m sorry, but I don’t think making this by hand I will get to the point of feeling it resemble coarse nothing.

So, into the food processor it went and 3 minutes later it was in the refrigerator taking a chill.  The dough was a complete success, rolling it out and placing in the tart baking shells went smoothly and no swearing was heard from the kitchen.

I was crossing my finger that this was going to be the theme - EASY.

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Sweet Kitchen Tips 9

A couple of tips about the vegetables I been using on the last post…

Did you know that Leeks were prized for centuries for everything from strength-giving qualities to magical properties.  They are related to both garlic and onion, with a flavor milder than either. In other words - yummylicious. The best way to choose when purchasing them is to make sure they have crisp, brightly colored leaves and unblemished white sections. Avoid any with withered or yellow-spotted leaves.  The smaller the leek, the more tender it will be. They store well in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to 5 days.  Save the tough green leek ends you trim off, you can put them in a cheesecloth bag and use to flavor soups.

And since we talked about leeks.. let’s talk also about carrots.

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Chili-Grilled Eggplant and Sweet Roasted Pepper Tartlets in Poppy Seed Shells

Tom and I love to have dinner parties.  Mainly because Tom knows that I like to cook up a storm and then sit back and accept all the praises that our guest will send my our way.

I’m crazy and he loves me – what can I say.

On the last dinner party, we had his best friend and his wife over.  We had them numerous times before and they are the type of dinner guest that will pretty much eat anything we put in front of them.

I call it having an adventurous palate.

I love cooking for them.

And the best part? The best friend wife is a vegetarian who lately is venturing into the raw food movement.  Which means that she forces me to be an adventurous cook - the best kind if you ask me.

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