Italian Easter Pie

March 26, 2016

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Easter preparations are in full swing in the Runcible Kitchen here. And the star of the show is this Italian Easter Pie! Yesterday I made my traditional Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns. Good Friday just wouldn’t be the same without them!

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And as for today, it was time to try out a new recipe. And I think this one will be making frequent reappearances. Behold this fantastic Italian Easter Pie!

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What we’ve got here is basically an Easter Calzone or “stuffed pizza” filled with smoked ham, hard-boiled eggs and cheese. Traditionally it is eaten in Italian households the day before Easter, but would certainly be welcome on any Easter Brunch table and would also be a great recipe to keep on hand should you have any extra hard-boiled eggs lingering around after the holiday.

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I found this recipe on the King Arthur Flour blog. Rather, I should say I was looking over various Easter bread recipes, trying to pick one to make. Last year I had made Slovak Paska Bread

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and was very happy with the results, so I thought I’d stick with the bread theme. I had pretty much decided on the Polish Babka. But then the Husband happened along and saw the Italian Easter Pie recipe and he was smitten. He loves eggs. Loves them. Could eat them everyday. Prepared anyway. Never gets tired of them. And we had just received an order of King Arthur Italian Style Flour that we were going to try out with a new pizza dough recipe. Sooo….his choice was clear and I got busy making the Italian Easter Pie.  Now I will say, this recipe makes two 12″ Easter Pies. It will serve a whole lot of folks! Apparently there are as many variations on Italian Easter Pie recipes as there are Italian households out there. Everyone has a family favorite. Whilst this pie has fairly mild flavorings (that is why it is important that you use good quality, flavorful ham), I also ran across a recipe that uses a lot of spicier meats, like sausage, pancetta, and salami which looked great. (I’m keeping that one a secret for now to perhaps surprise the Husband with later.)

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I was very happy with how this Easter treat turned out. The crust is light and thin, and I will mention that the Italian Style flour was really easy to work with and roll out.

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The savory filling was perfect, hearty yet not heavy or dense. Italian Easter Pie is generally served warm or at room temperature. And though it is usually enjoyed for brunch or breakfast, I think it would also be great for dinner along with a side salad. Rustic, homey and delicious, this Italian Easter Pie would be perfect for all of your Easter holiday celebrations!

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Italian Easter Pie

  • Servings: 2 - 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Crust:

  • 5 cups (539 grams) King Arthur Italian Style Flour or 4 3/4 cups (566.9 grams) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • 6 tablespoons (43 grams) nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup (50 grams) olive oil
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons (255 grams) lukewarm water (90° F – 100°F)*
  • *If you use all-purpose flour, increase the water to 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces)

For the Filling:

  • 1 dozen large eggs
  • 1 pound good-quality, full-flavored ham
  • 2 cups (425 to 454 grams) ricotta cheese, part-skim preferred
  • 1 cup (113 grams) freshly grated Parmesan cheese, lightly packed
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme (leaves only)
  • 2 teaspoons Penzey’s Pasta Sprinkle (optional – it is a blend of sweet basil, turkish oregano, thyme & garlic)
  • salt, coarsely ground black pepper, and chopped fresh parsley, to taste

For the Glaze:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons (25 grams) sugar
  • Maldon Flaky Sea Salt to sprinkle on edge of crust (optional)

Directions:

Mix and knead together all of the dough ingredients — by hand, in a mixer, or in a bread machine — until you’ve made a soft, smooth dough. 

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow it to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s quite puffy, nearly doubled in bulk. While the dough is rising, make the filling.

Hard-boil and peel 6 of the eggs. 

Place the hard-boiled eggs, ham (cut in chunks), and fresh thyme in the work bowl of a food processor. Process until chopped and combined. Don’t over-process; the ham and eggs should still be a bit chunky. You can also simply dice the eggs and ham, and chop the thyme, if you don’t have a food processor.

Combine the ham, boiled eggs, and thyme with the raw eggs, ricotta, and Parmesan. Season to taste with salt and about 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Add the Pasta Sprinkle if you are using it.

Deflate the dough, and divide it into four pieces. 

Roll two of the dough pieces into rounds about 13″ in diameter, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined 12″ pizza pans. Or roll into ovals about 10″ x 14″, and place on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Note: If you’re using parchment, it’s easiest to roll right on the parchment, then lift the crusts, parchment and all, onto the pans. I actually baked these pies on a pizza stone which I preheated in the oven. So I simply rolled the crusts out and assembled the pies on parchment paper. Then I transferred the pies to the heated stone on a pizza peel or paddle.

Divide the filling evenly between the two crusts, covering them to within 1″ of their edges. You’ll use a generous 3 cups (about 27 ounces) for each crust.

Roll out the other two pieces of dough, and place them atop the filled crusts, gently stretching them, if necessary, to cover the filling. Seal the crust edges by rolling the bottom crust up over the top, and pinching together.

Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut a 1″ hole in the very center of each top crust; this will allow steam to escape.

Make the topping by whisking together the egg and sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Paint each crust with some of the topping; this will yield a golden brown, shiny crust with mildly sweet flavor, a perfect foil for the salty ham. Sprinkle flaky sea salt on the rolled edge of the dough.

Allow the pies to rest while you preheat your oven to 350°F, about 15 minutes. They don’t need to be covered.

Bake the pies for about 25 – 35 minutes, until they’re a deep, golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and carefully slide them off the pan/parchment and onto on a rack to cool. 

Serve warm or at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Enjoy!

Italian Easter Pie brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Italian Easter Pie:

Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Thermoworks Super-Fast Thermapen Cooking Thermometer

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Cuisinart Food Processor

Norpro Silicone Pastry Mat

SAF Instant Yeast

Emile Henry Flame Top Pizza Stone

14″ x 16″ Aluminum Pizza Peel

King Arthur Flour Italian Style Flour – This is a 00 Flour

Non fat Dry Milk Powder

Maldon Sea Salt Flakes (Fleur de Sel)

Penzey’s Spices Pasta Sprinkle (this is a link to the Penzey’s website)

I should also mention that King Arthur Flour has a wonderful shop full of kitchen essentials as well as their quality ingredients on their website. Definitely worth taking a peek!

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Corned Beef Hash

March 13, 2015

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Corned Beef and cabbage! What would St. Patrick’s Day be without it? The quintessential Irish dish, or is it? Well, I’m sure all of my Irish friends (the ones that actually live in Ireland, not the Irish American ones to be specific) are saying…”What would it be without it? What would it be with it is a better question!” That’s right folks…Corned Beef and Cabbage is not considered “Irish” by the Irish themselves. They don’t really eat it there on St. Patrick’s Day or likely any other day of the year. “Hey….”I can just hear some of you saying…”I visited there last St. Patrick’s Day and I was served up a big old plate of the stuff”. I don’t doubt that you were. The Irish, being as accommodating as they are, made it up just because they knew hoards of Irish American tourists were going to turn up and be expecting it. It is not traditional for them whatsoever! But, that being said…it IS traditional St. Patrick’s Day fare for all the Irish Americans out there, who are the ones that really got that St. Patrick’s Day party going. And the recipe for today, Corned Beef Hash, doesn’t have so much to do with how to cook that big old hunk of corned beef and vegetables (hint….you boil the bejesus out of it….Just kidding 🙂 You simmer it all day, ever so gently… ), but what you do with the leftovers. I love recipes for leftovers. So much so that I’m giving you the one today and another one tomorrow. (bit of a spoiler, but it is for a corned beef appetizer, so stay tuned!). The husband swears that this Corned Beef Hash is fantastic. Indeed he preferred it to the original Corned Beef Feast we’d had the night before.

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But I’m sure some of you folks are still reeling from me letting the old “Corned Beef isn’t really Irish” cat out of the bag. So let me explain a little bit. Corned Beef, as I’m sure ya’ll know, has nothing to do with corn. The “corn” part of the title refers to the fact that large grain rock salt (salt kind of the same size as a grain of corn) was traditionally used to cure it. Back in the day, before reliable refrigeration, this “corning” was done to preserve meat. That vibrant pink color that corned beef is sporting is due to the pink salt that was used to cure it. Now this isn’t the fancy pants pink Himalayan salt that you may have read about, nope this is salt with good old sodium nitrate mixed in, which has been dyed a bright pink so that it is easily distinguishable from regular salt. It is the same reason why hot dogs have that rosy pink hue. Saltpetre, or potassium nitrate has also been used to preserve meat since the Middle Ages. Interestingly enough, it is also one of the main ingredients in gun powder. Saltpetre inhibits the germination of C. botulinum endospores as well as softens tough meat. Seventeenth century Ireland was the largest supplier of corned beef  in the world. That was because beef was very plentiful in the country and the salt tax in Ireland was 1/ 10 of what is was in England which meant the Anglo-Irish could import high quality salt at a lower price, cure that plentiful beef that they had in abundance and ready it for export. Which they did so much so that Irish Corned Beef was regarded as the best on the market from the 1600’s until about 1825.  However, although the Irish were exporting a lot of beef, they were not eating it. The Irish traditionally ate pork and beef was too expensive. After the potato famine in the mid 1800’s, many Irish immigrated to the United States. Once they arrived, many settling in New York, and living next to the many other immigrants of that time, they found that pork was very expensive, but that beef , which had previously been unaffordable, was plentiful. Their fellow immigrant Jewish butcher neighbors often sold an inexpensive cut of cured or corned beef brisket, which had started out quite tough but had been transformed by the curing process into a tender flavourful cut of beef. The Irish, being very adaptable, substituted this Jewish Corned Beef for the more expensive joint of bacon in their familiar boiled cabbage and potato recipe, thereby transforming and reinterpreting  the dish.

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So there you have it, not an Irish dish per se, but an exceedingly Irish American dish. I hope this recipe will inspire you to cast your eye not only to the big St. Patrick’s Day feast, but also to the days after. The leftovers days. St. Patrick’s Day is only four days away, so plan ahead! Buy that bigger cut of brisket and cook up a bit extra, so that you’ll have plenty of leftovers to work with. I promise you, you won’t regret it. This Corned Beef Hash is phenomenal. Just what the doctor called for to perk you up the day after the many St. Patrick’s Day parades, festivities and undoubtedly excessive green beer guzzling.

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Corned Beef Hash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: BonAppetit

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups leftover shredded Corned Beef
  • 1 medium onion, left over from Corned Beef feast
  • 1 large russet potato, left over from Corned Beef feast
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for serving
  • 1 cup Irish Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • Chopped fresh chives (for serving)

Directions:

This recipe assumes that you’ve already made your St. Patrick’s Day Corned Beef Feast and have managed to set aside a few leftovers, namely 2 cups of shredded corned beef, 1 medium onion and one large russet potato. I had used baby red potatoes when I made my corned beef dinner, so I just used a big handful of those.

Preheat oven to 200° F. Thinly slice cooked onion and potato into 1/2″ pieces; toss in a large bowl with corned beef, 1/4 cup parsley, and 1 cup Irish Cheddar. Moisten with some reserved cooking liquid if mixture seems dry. If you don’t have cooking liquid, just use a splash or two of Guinness; season with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/2 of the corned beef mixture and press down to form a pancake. Cook undisturbed until the underside is golden brown and crisp, about 6 – 8 minutes. Set a plate over the pan and carefully invert the pancake onto it; then slide it back into the pan, uncooked side down. Press it back into pancake shape again and then once again…do not touch it! Let it cook for 6 – 8 minutes again. Then carefully transfer it to a baking sheet, tent with foil and pace in the oven to keep warm until you are ready to serve. Repeat with the remaining butter and corned beef mixture.

Meanwhile, bring 2″ of water to boil in a large saucepan or frying pan. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add vinegar.

Crack an egg into a small bowl and once the water has reached a temperature of 190°F, slide the egg into the water. Repeat with the remaining eggs, waiting until the egg whites are opaque before adding the next egg. Poach for about 4 minutes to 4 1/2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer eggs to a paper towel. Trim away any whispy egg whites if you desire. Eggs can be poached 2 hours ahead of time; place in a bowl of ice water and chill. If you are planning on doing eggs ahead and will need to reheat, you may want to reduce initial cooking time to 3 – 3 1/2 minutes so that they are not overdone after reheating. Reheat in simmering water for 1 minute prior to serving.

Serve eggs over hash, seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with chives, more cheddar and more parsley.

Enjoy!

Corned Beef Hash brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


Scotch Egg Pie

January 24, 2014

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So I can’t believe it, but apparently it’s the New Year! And quite a few days into it I must admit. Hmmm….I seem to have been a very neglectful blogger. In my defense, I have had quite a bit going on around here recently, you know, the usual Thanksgiving/ Christmas hysteria, but I also had several vacations, a family health scare and a small house fire…I will tell you all about those things a bit later, I promise. But enough excuses. Let me start anew by saying “Happy New Year” to all you folks out there on the “interwebs”. I would go on to tell you some nonsense about how I had made a resolution to blog faithfully every Tuesday and Thursday, but I think we all know that would be quite optimistic, bordering on delusional. Life just has a way of making a mess of those types of declarations, so I think I won’t bother. I’ll just get back into the swing of things with this great recipe for Scotch Egg Pie,  just in time for the upcoming Robert Burns Night celebrations on January 25th!

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Throughout the world, though especially in Scotland, folks will be celebrating with a Burns Night Supper to mark the occasion. Robert Burns was born in 1759 and is regarded as the National Poet of Scotland. I’m quite a Burns fan myself and will certainly be raising my glass to The Bard this weekend. I have given you some great Scottish recipes in the past in case you might be planning a Burn’s Night Supper of you own. Last year it was Cock-a-leekie soup

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which I served with delicious, crusty Struan. Struan, also known as Celtic Harvest Bread, is thought to have taken its name from a town in Western Scotland called Struanmoor, on the Isle of Skye. It was originally enjoyed once a year as a harvest bread, using whatever grains were available from the previous day’s harvest. This is my absolute favourite bread, so it is almost always available in my house. It toasts up particularly brilliantly.

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The year before it was Deviled Scotch Eggs.

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And I had also previously given you the traditional Scotch Egg recipe. If you don’t know what Scotch Eggs are, believe me it is time that you find out! Basically it is  a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and then deep-fried. Good Lord Have Mercy!

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Now, the Scotch Egg Pie we’re about to discuss was not deep-fried, it was baked. But I just knew from the get-go that it was going to be amazing! I mean how could it not be with the list of ingredients it was sporting…spicy sausage, hard-boiled eggs all wrapped up in a buttery flaky pie crust?!! My husband could hardly contain himself when I teased him with a description of the culinary creation which would soon be arriving on his dinner plate! I think I’ve mentioned before that he absolutely loves any sort of meat pie, pasty, empanadas, etc. He also seems to really have an egg thing. He never tires of them, any and every way you fix them. Now this Scotch Egg Pie checked all of the boxes for him. He knew it would be awesome. And I am happy to say it did meet, if not exceed his expectations. Just delicious!

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I found this recipe on BBC Good Food. The original version called for Lincolnshire sausages. Lincolnshire sausages are a type of pork sausage that is associated with the English county of Lincolnshire. These sausages have more sage spice than the usual peppery or thyme flavours you might find in sausages which hale from other locales. Furthermore, they are coarsely ground rather than minced which gives them a much more chunky texture. Well, I couldn’t find any authentic Lincolnshire sausages here in good old Virginia, but believe you me, there was no scarcity of coarsely ground pork sausage around here, so I just made do. And while I was at it, I bought some really hot spicy sausage, because we definitely like a bit of heat! Red pepper flakes, habañero sauce, jalapeños, or Sriracha…bring it on! I did customize the sausage mixture a bit further as well with the addition of some Worcestershire sauce and parmesan cheese. Oh and I used my favourite short crust pastry recipe which creates the most buttery flaky pie crust imaginable. I’m telling you it is the pie crust of your dreams, is really easy to make and has vodka in it! (Always a welcome addition in my opinion). I suppose just grabbing a box of premade pie crust of the supermarket shelf is easier, but if you do have the time, I highly recommend you try this particular recipe. If you are anything like me, this will be your go-to pie crust recipe from that point on!

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Although I served my Scotch Egg Pie with a lovely green salad and a pint or two… for a casual, simple dinner, I’ve been told that Scotch Egg Pie is normally seen as more of a picnic food than sit down dinner entrée. Indeed I can see how it would be fantastic for a picnic in that it is easy to eat with your fingers, though perhaps a bit messy and tastes equally good at room temperature or piping hot from the oven. It would be great for breakfast, brunch or in a packed lunch as well. And I think it would be a well received addition to any Burns Night Supper. I hope I’ve managed to inspire you with these lovely Scottish dishes. If so, whip some of them up and raise a wee dram and drink a toast to Scotland’s Favourite Son this Saturday.

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Scotch Egg Pie

recipe adapted from: BBC Good Food

Ingredients:

  • 8 medium hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 lbs. sausage
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon thyme, leaves only
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 100 grams panko
  • 1 batch of short crust pastry (recipe below) or 500 grams of store-bought pie pastry
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 Tablespoon sesame seeds

Directions:

If you are planning to make your own short crust, remember that it will need to chill 1 hour in the fridge before you plan to roll it out into the pan. You can make the pastry the day before if you are a super-organized, type A planner or if you are pretty laid back and usually just wing-it, start production on this recipe at whatever time a bit earlier than usual would be for you. If you are using store-bought pastry, move on to the next step.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8″ springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Or, if you don’t have a springform, just use a regular 8″ round cake tin. Criss-cross two long strips of baking parchment in the tin to aid you when you are ready to lift out the pie.

Place 6 of the eggs in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat. Let the eggs stand in pan for 5 minutes, then run cold water into the pan to cool eggs. Peel when cool enough to handle.

Place the sausage in a large mixing bowl. Add the nutmeg, thyme, 75 grams of the panko ( a heaping cup), 1 egg, Worcestershire sauce, parmesan, pepper, salt and mix well. Set aside.

Roll out half of the pastry on a lightly floured surface. Line the baking tin. Scatter the remaining Panko over the base of the pastry.

Pat about one-quarter of the sausage mixture into the bottom of the tin. Arrange the peeled eggs on top, spacing them evenly. Gently pack the remaining sausage mixture around and over the eggs.

Roll out the remaining pastry dough and cover the pie, crimping the edges. Cut a steam hole in the top of the pastry. Beat the remaining egg lightly. Glaze the top of the pastry dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Place tin on a cookie sheet and bake for 1 hour or until the pork registers 160° F.

Remove pie from the oven and lift it from the tin, or remove the sides if using a springform pan. Place the pie back on the cookie sheet and return it to the oven for 10 minutes or so to brown the sides. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy!

Perfect Flaky Pie Crust

Originally adapted from: Inspired Taste

Ingredients:

(this recipe makes dough for two pie crusts)

  • 2 1/2 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup (227 grams) very cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (2 sticks)
  • 6 tablespoons vodka (chilled)
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water

Directions:

This recipe will make enough dough for two pie crusts. You will need both for this Scotch Egg Pie.

Mix 6 tablespoons of vodka and 2 tablespoons of water. Put in fridge or freezer (don’t forget it) to chill.

Add 1 1/2 cups flour, salt to a food processor. Pulse 2 to 3 times until combined.

Scatter butter cubes over flour and process until a dough or paste begins to form, about 15 seconds. (There should be no uncoated flour).

Scrape bowl, redistribute the flour-butter mixture then add remaining 1 cup of flour. Pulse 4 to 5 times until flour is evenly distributed. (Dough should look broken up and a little crumbly).

Transfer to a medium bowl then sprinkle 6 tablespoons of ice water/vodka over mixture. Using a rubber spatula, press the dough into itself. The crumbs should begin to form larger clusters. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough falls apart, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of extra water/vodka and continue to press until dough comes together.

Remove dough from bowl and place in a mound on a clean surface. Work the dough just enough to form a ball. Cut ball in half then form each half into discs. Wrap each disc with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months (just thaw it overnight in the fridge before using).


Tourte Milanese

September 6, 2013

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Wow! The summer has just flown by! I must say, I’m not sorry to see it go. Summers in Virginia are not pleasant, to say the least. And I’ve definitely determined that it is the humidity around here that makes it so intolerable. I thought I just plain hated hot weather. But I just got back from a trip to Maui. It was roughly the same temperature in Maui as it is in Virginia. Yet a Maui 89°F day felt entirely different from a swampy 89°F day in good old Virginia. I am happy to report as well that my husband and I did not spontaneously combust the moment our pale skin contacted sand. That being said, we did spend an extraordinary amount of time every morning slathering ourselves with 100 SPF sunscreen. And even with that, my husband managed to get an impressive burn on his back the second day we were there. Maui is simply drop dead gorgeous, from the mountains

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to the sea

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and we found plenty to do that did not involve any intentional sunbathing. We saw the sunrise at the top of the volcano Haleakala

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and then rode bikes twenty-one miles down to the base of the volcano,

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we went snorkeling

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and were thrilled to make the acquaintance of this huge turtle.

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And witnessed many lovely sunsets.

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Overall a great trip. But enough of that holiday talk, let me get to talking about this Tourte Milanese, which is quite a stunner itself.

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I knew the minute I saw this over at Parsley Sage & Sweet (PSS), I was going to be making it. Now I will admit, I did take some shortcuts from the recipe as listed on the PSS sight. I used store bought puff pastry. PSS gives you a great recipe if you would like to make your own puff pastry. I’m afraid I was not that motivated. Furthermore, I decided that I couldn’t be bothered to roast my own red peppers as PSS did. I simply went out and bought a couple of jars of roasted red peppers and used those. If you are one of those industrious, “everything must be homemade” kind of folks, take a look at the PSS sight for the directions. Actually you should look at the sight anyway because there are some gorgeous step by step photos of the Tourte displayed there that you shouldn’t miss out on.

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With all of my shortcuts, this Tourte was not difficult to make at all. It was a bit time-consuming, but Wowsa… just look how impressive it is. It looks like you spent all day making it. Folks won’t understand that it is mostly just assembly work, with very little actual cooking skills involved. Without a doubt it will be the star of your breakfast, brunch or pot luck supper. With all of its vibrant colours, it would make a holiday brunch all the more festive. And not only is it quite the looker, it is delicious as well! You can’t go wrong with this recipe!

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Tourte Milanese

recipe from: parsley sage & sweet

yield: 6-8 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound store bought puff pastry, chilled.  Roll both sheets together for 1 lb, then cut off a 1/4 lb for the top of the tourte. Use any scraps to cut out designs for the top, if desired.

For the Eggs

  • 10 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh tarragon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Filling

  • 2 jars roasted red peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds spinach, trimmed and washed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 8 ounces Swiss cheese or Gruyere, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces smoked or honey ham, thinly sliced
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the pastry: Generously butter an 8 1/2-inch springform pan. Cut off one-quarter of the pastry, cover, and set aside. Roll out remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick round. Carefully fit the pastry into the pan, pressing to get a smooth fit, leave a 1-inch overhang. Roll out the smaller piece of pastry until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out an 8-inch circle of dough for the top of the tourte and lift it onto a plate or baking sheet. Cover both the crust and the lid with plastic wrap and refrigerate while you prepare the filling. If using scraps for cut-out designs, like leaves, place the cut-outs on a separate plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill in fridge along with top and lined springform pan.

Make the Eggs: Whisk eggs, herbs, salt and pepper together. Melt the butter in a large skillet over low heat and pour in the eggs. Gently but constantly stir the eggs around in the pan, pulling the eggs that set into the center of the pan. Slide the eggs onto a plate, without mounding them, and cover immediately with plastic wrap. You want a loose, soft scramble since the eggs will be baking for a little over an hour.

Prepare the peppers: Remove roasted peppers from jar. Cut them into the largish bite size pieces. Blot the peppers dry with paper towels before adding them to the tourte.

Cook the spinach: in a large quantity of boiling salted water for 1 minute to blanch it. Drain spinach in a colander, rinse with cold water, and press it to extract all of the excess moisture. Heat the oil, butter, and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat. Add blanched spinach and sauté for 3 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg, and add a little heavy cream. Bring quickly to the boil and stir so it mixes with the spinach. Remove the spinach from the skillet with a slotted and set aside.  Once it’s coole, squeeze as much liquid out before adding it to the tourte.

Assemble the Torte: Remove the pastry-lined springform pan from the refrigerator and layer the filling ingredients in the following order: (quick tip: Sprinkle a little dry bread crumbs or grated Italian hard cheese on the bottom of the raw crust before adding first layer of scrambled eggs to protect against a soggy bottom crust).

  • half the eggs
  • half the spinach
  • half the ham
  • half the cheese
  • all the roasted peppers, laid flat

Continue layering in reverse order;

  • remaining half of cheese
  • remaining half of ham
  • remaining half of spinach
  • remaining half of eggs

With each layer, make certain that the ingredients are spread to the edge of the pan. Fold the excess crust in over the filling, and brush the rim of crust you’ve created with the egg wash. Center the rolled-out top crust over the tourte and gently push the edge of the top crust down into the pan, pressing and sealing the top and bottom crusts along the sides. Brush the top with the egg wash and cut a vent in the center of the crust. Use the point of the knife to etch a design in the top crust, taking care to cut only halfway into the dough. Chill the fully loaded tourte for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking.

20 minutes prior to baking; position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake the Tourte: Place the tourte on a jelly-roll pan, give it another coat of egg wash, and bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes, or until puffed and deeply golden. Remove from the oven and let rest on a rack until it reaches room temperature. Run a blunt knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan and release the sides.  Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting.

Enjoy!


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