Mar 28, 2011

Herbed Fruit Crostata with Apples and Grapes

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Perhaps you’ve been hanging around the Piece of Cake kitchen long enough to learn about my Happy Place, the imaginary wonderland to which I tend to drift when things go awry, or even when things are going fantastically well. Its that daydream wherein I have a long, loud lunch with several of my culinary heroes, and we all get to chitchatting like old friends. It’s glorious, basically. And at the head of the virtual table sits my personal Food Oprah, Lynne Rossetto Kasper. She’s the host of The Splendid Table, a radio show that covers everything you could possibly want to know about food, cooking and baking. It is the Happy Place of many, I am sure.

And guys? Um, recently? I actually got to talk to LRK herselfas I contributed a question to the call-in portion of the show. I tried not to die a little from the fabulousness of it all. I also somehow managed not to tell her about my restraining-order-level fandom and related crazy daydream. I know, I don’t know EITHER.

But what we did talk about was terrific. As LRK is an expert on all things related to Italian cuisine, I wanted to get her suggestions for a few rustic Italian dessert recipes that I might try and share with you all. I’ve unleashed my panna cotta obsession on you a few times, and I wanted something in that same vein–something wholly delicious in its simplicity, the sort of thing I might pull together if I was a housewife in the Italian countryside (which, by the way, is also a daydream I have, but that is neither here nor there).

Faster than you could say “Culinary Psychic”, Lynne pulled an idea out of the ether to meet my inquiry. I really don’t know how she does it, people. She is so flippin’ amazing that I would pretty much try any recipe she threw at me, even if it meant going against one of my strongest personal pastry beliefs and putting salad ingredients in my dessert. Like rosemary and extra virgin olive oil. Say what? I ruffled a bit at first, but dang if she wasn’t right on. Every time, that LRK! Magic.

So the next day, I pulled together a lively fruit crostata with a few of the usual suspects–buttery pastry, tart apples, a dash of sugar. But! Per LRK’s instructions, I upped the crazy with the addition of red grapes, a smattering of rosemary and a finishing drizzle of the sort of potent olive oil that someone gifts you for Christmas and you hang onto it for a special occasion. Because believe me, this crostata is indeed something special.

Now, I did riff a bit on her suggestions, but as any disciple of The Church of LRK can attest, this is something we are encouraged to do regularly. Not to mention that my choice to incorporate fresh rosemary into a frangipane (rather than just sprinkling it about) was downright delightful, so I feel good about going off the rails a bit here. It’s what Lynne would want.

The nutty, ambrosial frangipane gives a bit of richness and offers a nice cushion for the fresh rosemary, muting it just a touch so you get all its lovely herbacious notes and a hint of woodsiness to elevate the fruit flavors (including the ones in the olive! oil!) without the pungent, almost soapy, quality that rosemary can often have.

And hello, baked grapes?! Why have I not been doing this my entire life? The grape flavor becomes so lush, so alive, it’s like grapes on steroids. They taste the way I felt after talking to LRK. See, I told you I was nuts.

Herbed Fruit Crostata with Apples and Grapes
Inspired by and adapted from Lynne Rossetto Kasper

I’ve used a firm, tart apple here, but pears of any variety would also be wonderful.

For the fruit:

4 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 1/4 inch-thick slices
1 cup red seedless grapes (halved if they’re on the large side)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
For the rosemary frangipane:4 ounces almond paste, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature

For the crust:

1 10-inch pie crust (like half a batch of My Favorite Pie Crust), well-chilled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, toss together the apples, grapes, lemon juice and brown sugar. Set aside to let the flavors hang out for a while.

In the bowl of a food processor, place the almond paste, rosemary, sugar, flour and almond extract. Pulse until the mixture is well-blended and evenly textured. Add butter and process until well-mixed. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg. Process until the frangipane is perfectly smooth.

Lightly sprinkle a work surface and a rolling pin with flour, and roll the pie crust into a large, shaggy-edged circle, about 14 inches in diameter. Roll the crust onto your rolling pin to help you carefully transfer the crust to the parchment-lined sheet pan. Smear the crust with the frangipane, leaving about a 2-inch border right around the edges of the crust. Place the apple slices onto the crust, first in a single layer, and then tuck any slices that remain into the gaps. Be sure to pull the apples from any liquid that has pooled in the bottom of the bowl rather than dumping the whole lot atop the crust–you don’t want to make the crust soggy. Artfully dot the grapes across the surface of the apples. Fold the edges of the crust up and over the fruit, leaving the center exposed.

Whisk together the melted butter and olive oil, and lightly brush the crust with it. Dribble any extra over the fruit. Bake the crostata until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling, about 1 hour. Let cool on the pan for five minutes before using the parchment to slide the crostata onto a wire rack to cool further. Just before serving, sprinkle the crostata with a, extra smattering of fresh rosemary and a tiny drizzle of olive oil. Serve just warm or at room temperature.

  • My goodness, what a stunning crostata. I love the idea of baking with grapes, they're not really used much in baking but they have such a great flavor. It sounds wonderful!

  • Gorgeous crostata! I'm a LRK fan as well- I love listening to The Splendid Table on Saturday afternoons. Brilliant idea to add the rosemary frangipane! 🙂

  • I love grapes in baking and we have a lot of them in Greece. This crostata looks so crunchy and fruity I could devourr it in a moment!Hi, I am a fellow food blogger from foodblogs!

  • Grapes on steroids…that sounds like some sort of hallucinogenic drug that should be marketed. Really, you could probably sell this as a narcotic. It looks and sounds amazing!

  • Beautiful and…yummy!!xx

  • Gorgeous! I recently became a fan of rosemary in desserts after tasting my friend's brown butter and rosemary Rice Krispies treats- totally converted now!

  • I live in Germany. How do I find almond paste here? Is it the same as marzipan?

  • this looks so fresh and delicious. I love how this is perfectly rustic looking.

  • Yum! This looks amazing. I love that it straddles sweet and savory.

  • Hmm, your crostata is almost too pretty to eat. But on the other hand, it looks delicious too.

  • You've got the LRK genius in you, it seems! Rosemary frangipane? Perfect perfect perfect! It makes me happy!

  • I never listened to The Splendid Table before-well, nothing but bits and pieces if we caught it while listening to radio, but since reading this, I've started. It's really cool!

  • Beautiful crostata. I love the way you've described the baked grapes, I've never had them but I want to now!

  • This looks stunning. Oh wow! Great job!

  • I just heard you talking with LRK, and I had to rush over here to see what you did with it. I too adore her and credit her with my comfort in the kitchen; I talk about her so much my husband thinks I'm on first name basis with her. She never fails for me. I'm so glad you got to talk to her, and that the recipe was a success (naturally).

  • I echo anduin's comment. The crostata recipe sounds ever so divine.

  • I heard you on TST, great stuff. How is that surprise rosemary bush doing in your back yard? Wish I could find some surprises like that as well, alas we live in the city. Torino, Italy. Stop by my blog some time if you get the chance.

    Hope your tart turned out delicious.

  • I just heard you on TST – loved the rosemary gasp. 🙂 Your addition with the frangipane sounds (and looks) delicious! I'm hoping to grow a potted rosemary this year, so I might just give this recipe a try.

  • To All My Fellow Splendid Table Lovers:

    Thank you so much for stopping by! How fun to hear from new friends!

    Love in LRK,


  • The Splended Table is one of the many podcasts I listen to as I make my way around the country (I'm an over-the-road truck driver) and I happened to hear YOU on one of the last ones I listened to.

    I think you sounded great on the radio – not at all starstruck. And I love the story of the Rosemary bush in your yard that you had no idea about.

    I came to check out your blog because I love crostatas and wanted to see what you made. It looks delicious!

    I'm very excited for you that you got on the show – I can only imagine that feeling.

    Great blog. Keep up the good work.

    The Daily Rant

  • Just yesterday I was in the car listening to a podcast of the Splendid Table and it happened to be the one with your call on it! I had the same reaction as you when she got to the rosemary in the recipe — "oooooooooohh!" — and as soon as i got a chance I was searching for your blog to see if you'd made it!

    This looks like an amazing recipe and I can't wait to try it. I doubt I'll be able to make it as gorgeous as yours though!

  • Hey there! I was just listening to a podcast of the Splendid Table and heard your call. I haven't visited your blog before, but I am so glad I popped online to check it out. My appreciation is partly due to your fabulous adaptation of LRK's recipe, And, it is partly because…HOLY SMOKES! You are making me want to go bake things even though I just spent the whole day in the kitchen preparing for a food swap I am going to tomorrow. I'm looking forward to exploring your blog more.

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