True Confessions. When in comes to provisioning, I like to think of myself as a model of organization. The truth, however, is that frequently real life intervenes--a sudden irresistible invitation for dinner or a late afternoon swim, for example--and the best laid plans for what I'm going to cook, and when, goes cattywampus. Really, I wouldn't have it any other way for, in cooking, as in real life, the ability to be flexible, it seems to me, is a highly underrated virtue.
Which brings me to my secret inner game of "Iron Chef". No, it doesn't involve me translating Japanese and racing around the kitchen as though my pants are on fire, and it certainly doesn't involve the clock. No, it's looking through the refrigerator, my garden and the fruit bowl to see who's hanging out and needs to be used, either through benign neglect, or because I've suddenly realized a trip is at hand and those dear ingredients, so lovingly selected, aren't going to be any happier to see me in a few days when I return.
Which is what happened to me last night.
Upon opening the fridge to see what was going to be for dinner--and expecting a happy Tupperware trio to great me with a cache of sumptuous leftovers, I stumbled upon a ball of pastry. I realized that I'd taken from the freezer to thaw a couple of days earlier when a tomato pie seemed to be in the offing and which subsequently became a casualty of my dashing off for fun.
Upon further inspection, there were half a dozen peaches languishing in the fruit bowl and some blueberries and an orange in the produce drawer, none of which appeared to be getting any younger or fresher. And suddenly, with nary a moments notice, my inner "Iron Chef" was unleashed and I leapt into action to create this crostata.
Now, truth be told, I've never made one before though I've always meant to. It seemed to be an opportunity and I just went with it and boy, was I thrilled with the results. Jeff and Felix gobbled it up happily, and I'm tickled to have a new favorite to add to my repertoire.
Which just goes to show you: it's wonderful to experience the Kismet of finding a homemade dough ball ready to go in your fridge. Keep vanilla ice cream stocked at all times in your freezer, and never be scared to unleash your inner "Iron Chef."
And after all, aren't you better off having had that luxurious episode of blobbing and bobbing in the cool water with your dear pal in the lovely dappled light of the late afternoon? Flexibility can be both rewarding and delicious, my friend. Give it a whirl.
Peach and Blueberry Crostata
1 homemade pie crust (see earlier post of no-fail pastry)
6 small ripe peaches, pitted, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 pint blueberries (or some combination of fruit you have in hand to make approximately 2 cups)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 orange, the zest grated and the juice from that orange
for crostata topping:
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
6 ounces cold unsalted butter, chopped.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place parchment paper on a large cookie sheet and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the peaches and the blueberries with the flour, sugar, orange zest and orange juice and toss to combine. Set aside.
In a smaller bowl, combine the topping ingredients and cut them together with a pastry blender or two knives until they are fully combined and the crumb resembles small peas in size.
Roll out pastry ball until it is a large circle, not being too careful if it's a big raggedy and not a perfectly formed circle. This will add to the rustic appearance you're going for.
Put the pastry circle onto the cookie sheet and heap the fruit in the middle of it. Put the topping on top and squash the sides of the pastry up and around the fruit, leaving lots of the crumb-covered fruit peeking out over the top.
Bake it for about 25 minutes or until it the pastry is a deep golden brown. Cool the crostata on a wire rack, and allow it to cool slightly before cutting it into wedges and serving it with vanilla ice cream.