Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Happy Festivities!

Sometimes, Mother Nature is the best at Christmas. Happy festivities from Yosemite National Park!

Much love, joy, and merriment to all you friends out there. It's socially accepted that we get to hug and be near family on Christmas, but friends are just as important. All y'all--friends and family alike--make the world go round. ♡!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Apricot and Poppyseed Crostata

A few years back when I was last in Rome, we lived in the neighborhood of one of the best biscotterias in town. Amongst display cases stacked with amazingly buttery cookies in the shop were cakestands with cloches covering beautifully made jam crostatas. There were only two flavors to choose from: "light" and "dark," which denoted the differences in jam filling. The "light" crostatas were usually filled with something like apricot jam or an apple or citrus marmalade, while the "dark" crostatas usually featured a core of dark berry jam. The crostatas wouldn't be pre-sliced. The proprietress behind the counter would ask us to indicate how large of a slice we want, then she would take a bench scraper and cut the desired slice, charging by weight. Along with the cookies, those slices of crostata were some of my favorite dessert items in Rome.

Since Rome, I've been increasingly infatuated with crostatas and jam tarts. As someone who is a bit obssessive-compulsive in collecting good jam and marmalade, jam tarts are some of the easiest ways for me to finish off large amounts of jam quickly. A while ago, I happened to be visiting at Blue Chair Fruit when Rachel Saunders (jam maker extraordinaire) was serving up slices of her take on an Italian crostata, and I've been hounding her for the recipe ever since. And finally, at last, the crostata recipe appears in the latest Blue Chair Fruit cookbook: Blue Chair Cooks. Naturally, it's the first recipe I turned to.

With a few tweaks on Rachel's recipe, I made an apricot-poppyseed version of the crostata, adding some meyer lemon zest, a sprinkle of lavender buds, and some orange blossom water to the crust for some extra floral flavor against the apricot. The poppyseeds add a satisfying crunch to the top of the crostata. In true Roman biscotteria fashion, I proudly presented the crostatas as my contribution to the annual holiday cookie swap this year. Because, if crostatas have a place in Italian biscotterias, they are more than good enough "cookies" for me.

Read on for recipe....