Over the past few years, I have had a growing realization that that the things I treasured most had nothing to do with the things filling my home. I was at my happiest when surrounded by family and friends and new experiences; not surrounded by the trappings of a large home. So like many in America today, I decided to jump on the ‘downsizing‘ train. I moved to a home half of the size of my previous home. I voraciously and enthusiastically began tossing clothes into donation bags, earmarking over half the furniture for sale and giving away or recycling box after box of stuff. At times, Jay (and candidly I) looked rather shocked at the size of the piles waiting for donation or for friends to come take away.
Now firmly settled into my new home, life feels, well, simply lighter. I moved into the (smaller) imperfect antique home of my dreams, nestled at the waters edge. No longer important are the things filling my home but rather it is the family, friends and loved ones that fill my heart with love. Our home has become one where friends stop by unannounced. We prep and eat at the large kitchen island. Fancy dishes and silverware are long gone to donation. It is a much simpler life that I had long since craved and for which I am now immensely grateful.
On this unusually warm February morning, I am sitting outside as I type watching the water glide gently by, the sound of nearby rapids in the distance. (ok, maybe the rev of a motorcycle engine now and then from the street out front but all part of my new location’s charm.) The warm temperature is a wonderful departure from the normal gloom of the season. It feels like a little beacon of light towards the approaching season of spring…which brings me to the recipe attached to this post.
Lets talk blood oranges! 🙂 (Smooth transition, huh??)
Blood oranges with their fantastic crimson hue are like a beacon of light in the normal sea of winter beiges, a treat to brighten any meal or menu. They are still difficult to find in my neck of the woods. One local market stocks a small basket during their winter season and I recently nabbed a basketful to carry home and brighten our world. Blood orange mimosas, blood orange and fennel salad, blood orange chicken. I have a thing for that incredibly colored juice.
With a few little oranges remaining, I decided to finish them off in a crostata – one of my simple go-to deserts that does not take a lot of effort.
The crimson orange slices are nestled in a very simple mascarpone filling – all tucked into a even simpler butter crust. The recipe (along with a few links to other blood orange recipes) are attached to brighten your world too!
So dear readers, here is to enjoying the simple things in life and to all of us making our own memories that fill our hearts and soul.
A simple crostata recipe to brighten your winter’s day!
For the pastry:
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 ½ sticks cold butter, cubed
- A few tablespoons ice cold water
For the filling:
- 4 blood oranges
- 2 oranges
- 8 ounces mascarpone
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon almond extract
Raw sugar to sprinkle (“Demetra’)
- Make the crust: Mix together the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut in the butter until the dough is crumbly with the butter being about the size of peas.
- • Sprinkle the surface of the dough with about 1 tablespoon cold water. Using your hands, mix until the dough just comes together. Add more water if still dry but be careful not to knead the dough too much.
- • Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
- Prepare the filling: Using a sharp knife, cut a small slice off the top and bottom of the orange to flatten the ends. Cut down the sides of the oranges, removing the skin and white pith. Slice the oranges crosswise into thin wheels. Remove any seeds. Reserve.
- • In a small bowl, stir together the mascarpone, sugar and almond extract until blended. Taste and add a bit more sugar if you would prefer it a bit sweeter.
- • Remove the dough from the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to form a large circle, about ¼ inch thick. Using the rolling pin, carefully transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper. Spread the mascarpone filling on top of the dough, leaving a border. Arrange the sliced oranges on top of the filling. Carefully fold over the edges of the dough over the filling. Slip the crostata onto a plate and place in freezer for about thirty minutes. (This firms up the dough.)
- • When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the crostata from the freezer and transfer to a baking sheet. Beat the egg and brush the edges of the crostata with the egg wash. Sprinkle with raw sugar. Place in the oven and bake until the edges are golden, about 40-45 minutes. Enjoy!
- Category: Italian dessert
- Cuisine: A simple crostata recipe to brighten your winter’s day