I'm not sure where I read about it, but I came across a fabulous recipe resource this week in the form of food52. food52 is a collaboration between Amanda Hesser, a long-time food writer for the New York Times and Merrill Stubbs (I think that's her last name??), also a food writer and chef. After several months of working together on a cookbook for the Times, the came to realize that the best recipes come from US....the home cook!
So they have put together food52 where every week (currently in week 17) they offer up a couple of themes and invite home cooks around the internet to submit their best recipes involving that theme or ingredient. If you're a member of the site (it's free) you get to vote. At the end of 52 weeks (get it....food52??) they will have a complete cookbook that will be published by HarperStudio. Genius, right?
So that's where I found this recipe for last night's dinner party appetizer....Fig, Hazelnut and Pecorino Crostada. This week's theme was "your best recipe using figs". I love figs, so that immediately caught my eye, but when I read that the crust had rosemary in it, I knew I'd be making this.
The dough came together easily in the food processor and with the addition of the rosemary it smelled delish. I made mine the day before and refrigerated it overnight, but it can also me made the same day as long as you chill it for at least an hour.
The fig jam is made by stewing dried figs in a rosemary-infused simple syrup for 10 minutes and then adding it to the hazelnuts in the food processor and grinding into a jam-like consistency. That can also be made ahead if needed.
Slice a granny smith apple on top.
Fold the pastry over the edges and brush with an egg wash. I made mine a few hours early and stored in the fridge until I was ready to bake it.
Bake it for 50 minutes, sprinkle on the cheese and finish baking until the cheese is melted. I confess that I didn't have Pecorino and substituted grated Parmesan instead, but it was still amazing.
This is a perfect mix of sweet and savory and could easily be served as an appetizer, with a cup of coffee for breakfast or afternoon break, or with a little ice cream for dessert. Amazingly versatile.
I highly recommend trying this one out and also bookmarking food52 and making it one of your weekly websites!
Here's the recipe:
1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour + more for rolling
1 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Rosemary (chopped)
1/2 cup Butter (Unsalted) - Very cold and cut into pieces
2 to 4 tablespoons Ice Water
1 egg mixed with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
3/4 cups Water
3/8 cups Sugar
1 sprig Rosemary
16 Dried Figs, Halved
3 tablespoons Brandy
3/8 cups toasted hazelnuts
1 Granny Smith Apple, cored and sliced
Approx. 2 ounces grated Pecorino Romano
Make the Dough: In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, salt, and rosemary to combine. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few pea-sized pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 TB ice water; pulse until crumbly but holds together when squeezed (it won't look like it will hold together until you squeeze it). If necessary, gradually add up to 2 TB more water). Don't over mix. Flatten into disk and wrap tightly in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least one hour and up to 3 days.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, add the water, sugar, and sprig of rosemary. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until sugar dissolved.
Add the figs and brandy to the simple syrup. Bring to boil and simmer for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 10 minutes.
Remove the rosemary sprig and discard. Remove 2TB of the syrup from the pot into a small bowl and add the juice from 1/2 of the lemon. Set aside.
Pour the remaining syrup/fig mixture into the food processor. Add the hazelnuts and the juice from the remaining half of the lemon. Blend, pulsing a few times, until a coarse puree. Set aside.
Roll dough into a round (or whatever shape it ends up in - this is rustic dish). Place on baking sheet (or silpat on baking sheet).
Spread the fig/hazelnut mixture on the crust leaving a 1.5-2 inch border. You may have some jam left depending on how big your dough round ended up. Feel free to eat directly from the bowl or save for your morning toast. It holds up well.
Toss the sliced apples with the reserved simple syrup/lemon juice mixture. Layer the apples over the fig/hazelnut mixture.
Fold the dough border over the edge of the filling, pleating if you are so inclined. Brush the crust with the egg wash.
Bake in a 350 degree over for about 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the pecorino evenly over the apples (again the amount of cheese may vary depending on how big the dough round ended up). Return to the oven for about 10 minutes until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted.
Cut and enjoy.