A tasty mashup of sweet fruit streusel and rich vanilla ice cream
Cheese & Dairy
This dish is called “Pizza” Rustica, but it actually has more in common with a quiche than a pizza. I had never heard of the dish until this past Easter when my wife craved one, fueled by a memory of the “pies” her Grandmother brought to every Easter feast of her youth. Sadly, her Nana’s recipe is lost somewhere in her extensive family tree, so she did some on-line research and chose this one as the one that best reflected what she remembers her Grandmother making. It comes from one of our favorite pastry chefs, Nick Malgieri. I debated holding this post until next year as the Easter holiday approached, but this dish is so good, and would make such a great addition to a Summer pot-luck, I thought I’d share it with you now. The filling is a rich mix of ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino, studded with a variety of Italian meats such as prosciutto, and dried sausage. It has a slightly sweet crust which balances the salty, cheesy filling beautifully, and when baked, makes a photo worthy star of any family spread.
I love potatoes! Whether they be white, sweet, or purple; smashed, whipped, or fried….you name it and if its made with a spud I’m a fan.
That said, I do recognize their nutritional challenges (especially white varieties), and often lament the fact that the creamy dollop of mashed potatoes smiling back at me from the center of my plate, offer little in the way of nutrition, save the dairy fat brought by the cream and butter that make them so luscious. Over the years I’ve made efforts to augment the whipped goodness that often anchors my meals by either adding healthier veggies to my spuds to make them more nutritious, or by replacing them altogether with a tasty alternative.
These little monsters are my slight adaptation of a recipe by Kim Laidlaw from her new Williams of Sonoma cookbook, Home Baked Comfort . To her original recipe I've added a sharper cheese and a bit more bacon, because in my mind it makes absolutely no sense not to. Kim refers to these as scones, but for me they rose and flaked beautifully, much more like little biscuits than scones, so that's what I'm calling them.
Whatever we call them doesn't much matter though, because after one bite you'll find these so addictive that you'll be scrambling to come up with your own name for them, something like…..
"Oh Sweet Jesus, Cheese and Bacon Crack-Bites"
You've been warned.
Huh?……you don’t see the connection between this delightful confection and the runaway success that is GLEE?
Let me explain.
This open faced sandwich was inspired by a trip to our local farmer’s market the other day. While there we bought a loaf of delicious whole grain bread, some locally cured ham, organic apples, some sharp cheddar cheese, late season arugula, and a nice little acorn squash (although a sweet potato would have worked equally as well, I think). In keeping with these local New England flavors, we added some maple syrup and a tangy cranberry chutney to the dish. I love the contrasting flavors and textures of the sandwich, the peppery arugula along side the sweet squash and smokey ham, the gooey cheese juxtaposed with the crisp apple, and all of it popped by the tangy cranberry chutney.
Tell me, what kid wouldn’t like a sandwich with sweet fruit in the middle, and gooey cheese melted all over the top of it. This sandwich would be delicious with a bowl of Butternut Squash Soup with Apple Cider Cream!
Enjoy – Steve
- Whole Grain, artisan baked bread
- Smoked ham, locally cured, thickly sliced
- Roasted acorn squash, smashed
- Organic honey-crisp apples, cored and sliced (or any other local apple you have handy)
- Vermont, sharp cheddar cheese
- Whole grain mustard
- Cranberry chutney
- Preheat oven to 400℉
- Split acorn squash in half, top to bottom, and scoop out the seeds. Please 1 teaspoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup in the cavity of each half, and place in a baking dish . Sprinkle the squash with kosher salt, and pour a little water into the dish to keep the skins from burning and sticking to the bottom. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour (or longer if you have a big squash) Remove the squash from the oven and let cool. When cool enough to handle, scoop the insides into a bowl and mash with a fork, making sure the butter and maple syrup is evenly distributed, check for seasoning and set aside.
- Set your oven to broil. Cut a thick slice of the bread and toast it. Build your open faced sandwich starting with the mustard, then the sliced apples, the smashed squash, the arugula, the ham and finally the cheese. Place the sandwich on a sheet tray and pop under the broiler, cook until the cheese is bubbling and starting to brown.
- Remove from the oven and serve with a big spoonful of cranberry chutney (I have a great recipe I'll share in a future post), some squash soup, or a simple green salad.