I bought three bushes of ancient roses last spring, the kind you can use for cooking: I imagine that, if the garden of Eden had flowers, they must have been mostly these roses: their smell is inebriating and their strength seems to disregard all seasons and weather conditions.
‘These are bushes of Quatre Saisons and Meilland,’ said the attendant at the rose garden. ‘They are very resistant, and will bloom, and bloom, and bloom again…’
And so they did. As ice started creeping in the garden and bead their leaves in early mornings, their flowers still kept opening.
I did not think these could bloom so abundantly in November. Cold and Christmas are fast approaching, and yet here we are, fooling this late fall with May-like smell of roses. I made jam out of them, and I’ll be drinking green tea and remembering the warm weather, the light of spring, and streets crowded with tourists. I’ll hope I can bloom in bad weather and in the cold, just like they do.
I already wrote this little something on Instagram, but I feel like repeating it here as well, since it links so well with the idea of roses blooming in the cold: last day during boxing class, one of the boys asked the instructor when he would get a chance to compete on the ring. The instructor told him that he had some more training to do, because competing on the ring meant real punches, and a real, painful defeat.
‘But I want to go!’ he insisted. ‘I feel ready.’ And you know when you’re young and clueless and feel invincible and you do not realize that someone is going to kick your a$$ and you want to do whatever you want to do no matter what it takes. And I thought about when that same conversation happened between me and my parents when I was his age – about 17 – and I thought that a willing mind and spirit should be encouraged to go and, perhaps, fail. Young people, and people in general, who want to achieve something, need not someone to warn them about the dangers. They need someone who will still warn them, but won’t be scared to watch them fail, and be there when they need to stand up again to tell them that the next time will be better. I retrospect, I would have made this book entirely differently. I’m sure I’ll be able to do better than this, one day. And, once your first deed is done, you will inevitably look back and think that you could have done better, were you better prepared. But it was your first experience and you didn’t know, and now you do, and you’ll do better. Even under the worst conditions. Just like that boy on the ring. Just like the roses on my garden.
So, for now, I can say I kicked my first a$$.
Thanks to all of you who bought the book and keep tagging me and sending me photos of the dishes and the book itself!! Keep them coming and, if you love the book, make sure to leave an Amazon review!
This one has seemed to be one of the most successful recipes in the book, and no wonder it is – it is delicious and one of my favorite desserts. Here is the caption straight from the book…
Crostata is probably the dessert we’ve baked most in our household throughout the years. It’s easy to make, requires ingredients that are always in the pantry, and for us, it’s always a great way to finish up a jar of homemade jam that’s been sitting in my grandma’s fridge for too long. A sort of Italian version of a tart, crostata differs from its French counterpart in that it is puffier and crumblier – that is why the recipe includes baking soda. It is usually filled with jam, but you can also use seasonal fruit. The crust is very versatile and so it’s easy to swap in other delicious fillings like pear and chocolate, apples and fig jam, or any other jam or fruit you fancy.
- /2 cup / 2.8 oz / 80 g whole wheat flour (see note)
- ½ cup + 1 tablespoon / 2.8 oz / 80 g rice flour
- ½ cup + 3 tbsp / 2.5 oz / 70 g almond flour,
- 3 tbsp / 1 oz / 30 g potato starch
- ½ cup / 3.5 oz / 100 g whole dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 40 g cold unsalted butter
- 1 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Zest from 1 small lemon
- Almond or regular milk, if needed
- 1 ½ cup / 10.5 oz / 300 g fresh ricotta cheese
- 4 tablespoons whole dark brown sugar or honey
- 1 large egg, separated
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 ½ cup cherry jam, strawberry jam or any other jam you love
- Combine all the ingredients for the crust except the milk in a food processor and process until the dough comes together. (You can also make the dough in a bowl and just knead with your hands.) Scrape it out and knead it briefly to incorporate any flour that may not have been combined. If the dough is crumbly, add milk by the teaspoons until it comes together. The dough should feel wet, but not really sticky. Let it rest for at least 30 minutes, or prepare it the night before and refrigerate.
- When ready, press the dough evenly into a 10 inch tart pan, and set aside in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
- Combine the egg yolk, sugar or honey and vanilla in a bowl, and beat in a stand mixer or with a handheld mixer for at least 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and has tripled in size. Add half the ricotta and beat. Add the other half once the first half is creamy and smooth.
- In another clean, dry bowl, beat the egg white until stiff. Mix ⅓ of the egg whites into the ricotta mixture and, once fully incorporated, gently fold in the rest.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F˚ / 180 C˚.
- Take the crust out of the fridge and spread ½ the cup of jam on the bottom. Spread the ricotta mixture on top, then dollop on the rest of the jam and ‘marble’ it with the spoon or spatula you are using. Sprinkle with almond slivers and bake until the ricotta is set and the crust is golden, 35 to 45 minutes depending on your oven.
- When the crostata is ready, the crust will feel soft to the touch and it might seem undercooked, but if it has browned on top it is done- if you leave it in the oven too long, it might turn a little tough. Test it with a toothpick and, if the toothpick comes out dry, it is ready. Turn off the oven and let it set for 5 more minutes before removing.
- Wait for it to cool before unmolding and slicing, as crostata is very crumbly when hot.