One of the best things about summer (hands down) is a picnic. What’s better than grabbing a blanket and squatting a plot of grass on a gorgeous sunny day? Greenlake in Seattle is ideal for people watching and picnicking. There’s the guy who walks around the lake loop giving Spanish lessons; there are the people (men and women) who wear the little front-facing baby carriers… with their small pocket dogs in them; and then there are the power-walking moms who will run you’re a$$ down with their double-wide strollers. Bravo’s sensational reality TV shows have nothing on Greenlake when it comes to entertainment.
When time came for our August potluck, there was no doubt the theme would be PICNIC. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly cooperate so we had to take the picnic inside. But to preserve the integrity of our outdoor evening, we all sat on the floor around the coffee table. Shoes off. Who wears shoes in the lush summer grass at a picnic?
As usual, the food was amazing! You can’t have a picnic without fried chicken, and Jane’s stole the show. Her recipe brined the chicken in buttermilk, Tabasco, and cayenne pepper giving it a moist, tangy flavor. We also had a sesame penne pasta salad, a mango and cucumber cous cous salad, and chicken salad on croissants. I brought dessert and made these really fun rustic fig and raspberry pies. They had a flaky crust that was free-formed into little personalized pies. Perfect balance of sweet but not sweet enough to make your teeth hurt.
I hadn’t cooked with figs a lot before this recipe, but they were in season and plentiful at the market. I used black mission figs. When picking them, look for soft but firm skin without bruises or blemishes. To prepare, simply rinse them off, trim the stem, and slice in half. Delish. They are amazing with goat cheese on a mixed greens salad, or diced in oatmeal or cous cous for breakfast. Or of course in this rustic pie recipe.
Another great tip that came from this recipe is to sprinkle the crust below where the fruit filling will go with a little crushed graham crackers. It soaks up the juices from the fruit filling, so it doesn’t turn the bottom of the pie into a soggy mess. Definitely a great tip for future pies. The dough can get a little sticky, so it’s easier to roll it out if you place it between two sheets of plastic wrap and then go at it with the rolling pin. It takes a few to get the hang of it, but even if you “mess up” they end up coming out fabulously. Plus they’re “rustic” so who cares?! Enjoy!
Rustic Fig and Raspberry Mini Crostatas
Click here to print this recipe.
From: Fine Cooking Magazine, July 2010
Serves: 10 (easily could cut each pie in half and serve 20)
Time to prepare: 3.5 hours, active time 45 minutes
For the dough:
7-1/2 oz. (1-2/3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
3-3/4 oz. (3/4 cup) whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup plus 1/2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
9 oz. (1 cup plus 2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the filling:
3/4 lb. small fresh figs (preferably Brown Turkey), quartered (about 2 cups)
6 oz. fresh raspberries (1-1/2 cups)
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
3 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. honey
1 Tbs. fresh thyme, roughly chopped
2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
3 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. graham cracker crumbs
1 oz. (2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into
1-1/2 Tbs. heavy cream
Make the dough:
Put the flours, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse in short bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add 3 Tbs. cold water and pulse. If the mixture seems dry, add water 1 Tbs. at a time, pulsing until the dough just starts to come together. Do not overprocess.
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface, gather it together, and portion it into ten 2-1/2-oz. rounds. Flatten them into disks, wrap individually in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
On a lightly floured surface with a lightly loured rolling pin, roll each dough disk into a 5-1/2-inch round that’s about 1/8 inch thick. Put 5 rounds on each baking sheet.
Make the filling
In a medium bowl, lightly toss the figs, raspberries, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the honey, thyme, and orange zest until combined.
Assemble and bake the crostatas
Sprinkle each round of dough with 1 tsp. graham cracker crumbs, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Put a generous 1/4 cup of the fig mixture in the center of each dough round, mounding the fruit. Top each tart with a butter slice.
Fold the edges of the dough over some of the fruit to create a 1-inch rim, leaving the center exposed. Work your way around, pleating the dough as you go. With a pastry brush, brush the crust of each crostata with cream and sprinkle the crusts and filling with the remaining 2 Tbs. sugar.
Bake until the crostatas are golden-brown, 30 to 35 minutes, swapping and rotating the baking sheets’ positions about halfway through baking.
Transfer the baking sheets to racks to cool for about 5 minutes. Then loosen the crostatas with an offset spatula and cool completely on the sheets. The crostatas are best the day they’re made.