Friday, June 24, 2011

Bleu Cheese, Bacon and Tomato Crostata

This recipe was inspired (and requested by) my friend Adam Lombardi who is working on DA Brown's reelection campaign.  So this recipe is nicknamed the Campaign Crostata.  Something to help keep you going after long hours of hard work and dedication.  A Red,White, and "Blue" dish for politicians and non-politicians alike.  Crostatas are usually shaped into a circle, but I thought it would be fun and symbolic to shape it into a star.  Even if you have no political agenda, you can enjoy this salty crusty dish anytime! And the Fourth of July is coming up- perfect for entertaining on such a joyous occasion. This recipe might look a little intimidating and long but it really is easy.  And the best part is that if you know how to make the crust you can put ANYTHING in this crostata- even make a sweet dessert variation. So try your own version! And let freedom reign ;)


· 1 c flour
· ½ c cornmeal
· ½ tsp salt
· 3 tbsp COLD butter- cut into small pieces
· 1 ½ tbsp lemon juice
· ½ c cream cheese
· 3 1/2 tbsp cold water

· 8 slices of bacon
· 1 cup of bleu cheese
· 1 onion
· 1 garlic cloves
· 3 small sprigs of fresh thyme
· Salt, pepper
· 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

· 2-3 small tomatoes, sliced
· 1 egg- beaten for egg wash

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place bacon on a baking sheet/rack and throw in the oven until brown and crispy- Time will vary; just keep an eye on it.

2.  Slice your tomatoes and put into a strainer/colander and cover with kosher salt.  This will help draw out a lot of moisture so the tomatoes won’t make the crust soggy. When you are ready to use just rinse quickly and shake dry as much as you can.

3.  In a food processor* combine the flour, cornmeal and ½ tsp salt. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like a coarse meal. In another small bowl combine the lemon juice and cream cheese and then add to the food processor- pulse a few times. Add the water and pulse until the mixture is moist – but doesn’t form a ball- you still want it crumbly. Take out the dough and place on a sheet of plastic wrap, shape into a dish, cover it up with the plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for about 20 mins.

*If you don't have a food processor, you can always whisk the dry ingredients, then work the butter in quickly with your fingers-work it into the flour by rubbing it in- make sure the butter is super cold- it will start to look like parm cheese, work the cream cheese mixture in with a whisk, same with the water step. Basically if you don't do it with a food processor it's not the end of the world- this isn't exactly formal baking
4.While you wait for the dough- in a small sauce pan get some oil hot and then add the chopped onion and garlic. Heat should be medium, medium low- try not and burn it. Add salt, pepper & thyme.  When that is all cooked turn off the heat, add the balsamic vinegar, and set aside to cool for now.

5.  When the bacon is done, crumble it and add to saucepan with the onion mixture.  Keep the oven on.

6.  Get your dough out and roll into a thin sheet on top of some parchment paper (believe me you're going to want to use this parchment paper, it makes moving it SO much easier)- I made my dough too thick the first time and I wound up having to cook the crostata for a really long time- so roll it thin. I formed mine into a star shape but the easiest way is a circle, so if you don't want to get fancy you can just roll into a circle- the ends are going to be cracking and not perfect, leave them that way it adds to the rustic look of the dish.

7.   Add the cheese to the onion mixture and stir to combine. Then top the dough with it.  Leaving about an inch around the edges so we can fold over the edges and complete the crostata.  Before you fold the edges over, top the filling with the tomato slices. Fold edges over and move the crostata (with the parchment paper) to a baking sheet.  Take the beaten egg and brush all over the dough (this is called an egg-wash).  Then bake until the crust is golden brown and delicious (about 20-25 mins).

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