Monday, August 24, 2015

Pear Crostata

We have two pear trees in the yard (surprise! never saw them last year!) and although they are not producing a ton, they are producing more than we can eat, so I needed a way to use up more.  I've been giving some away too, which helps.  I have always wanted to try a crostata so I did just that.  In case someone doesn't know, a crostata is just fruit filling folded up free-form into a pastry or pie crust and baked. Less work and a lot more rustic than a usual pie.

Pear Crostata 
adapted from relish

1 recipe pastry for single-crust pie (recipe suggestion follows)
1 1/2 pounds firm-ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored and quartered, each quarter cut in 3 slices
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1.  Take pastry or pie dough and roll out on a sheet of parchment paper to a 12-inch circle.  Slide parchment onto a baking sheet and chill 30 minutes in refrigerator. (optional... I forgot this and it was fine.)

2.  Preheat oven to 400F.  Toss pears with lemon juice in a medium bowl. Combine 1/2 cup sugar with flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl. Sprinkle over pears; toss gently. Add vanilla; toss again.
3.  Arrange pear filling in center of pastry to within 1 1/2 inches of the edges. Working quickly, fold and pleat edges of dough up and over pears. Dot pears with butter and sprinkle remaining 1½ teaspoons sugar over top of pastry and pears.  Bake 40 minutes, or until pastry is golden and pears are tender. Let cool 10 minutes before slicing.

Mom's Pie Crust
from my Mom... obviously

1 cup vegetable shortening
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, stirred and measured
1/4 cup cold water

1. Measure shortening into bowl. Add salt and half of flour. Stir with a spoon until ingredients cream together and mixture is smooth and satiny. Add water and remaining flour. Stir with spoon until mixture clings together in ball. Roll out as desired on a generously floured board. Don't be afraid to handle or overmix. Makes 2 (9-inch) pastry shells or enough for 1 double pie. (Will only use half for the pear crostata, unless you want to make two crostatas.)  

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