Not croissants. Sorry.
Except, I’m not that sorry. Today’s assigned recipe is croissants, and I didn’t make them. It’s not that I don’t want to make croissants. I do.
No, actually, I kinda don’t. For a lot of reasons, the main one being that I really don’t like croissants all that much. I mean, they’re okay, and they’re great when they’re filled with almond paste. But I don’t get cravings for them, I don’t feel tempted by them, and it would probably take me weeks to eat any leftover ones that are stuck in the freezer. I still have foccacia hiding in the freezer. Until last week, I still had three gingerbread baby cakes left forgotten in the freezer. If I bake it, and it gets put in the freezer, chances are that it’ll get thrown out before it gets eaten. The only exception to that has been the bagels, and it took nearly a month to eat those up.
What I’m saying is: yeah, it’d be fun to say that I made croissants, but I probably won’t eat them. Even if these are the greatest croissants in the world, I’m trying to be very good about what I eat right now, and croissants just seem like empty calories to me. I do want to make them in the future, but I’ll wait until I have a lot of people to share them with. No way do I want to be stuck with a freezer full of croissants I’m not going to eat.
Also, when I read the recipe(s) for croissants, it did not look like an easy project. It’s a two-day thing, and the recipe(s) cover a number of pages. After the difficulties I had with the February recipes, the last thing I wanted to do was struggle my way through another long and convoluted baking process. I need to watch this process on video a few more times before I attempt it.
So, I put the croissants aside and went looking for something I’d missed to make up. Something that would serve for dinner, something that wasn’t too complicated, something that would get eaten unless I totally screwed it up.
I found this:
As you can see from the picture, this is not your typical pizza, not pizza as we have come to know it. It’s more of a pie that’s stuffed with meat and cheese. It’s also called an Italian Easter pie, which just goes to show that I’m a little early off the block for this one. That’s okay. I’ve already got ideas for Easter supper, and this never even made it on the radar. I’m going the traditional baked ham route this year, so let’s just say that I made pizza rustica to celebrate the end of February. Works for me.
This starts with a pie dough, a surprisingly sweet pie dough. I made it,I knew what went into it, and it still surprised me a little with its sweetness. It wasn’t bad, exactly, but it didn’t seem to go with the filling, which was thoroughly and completely savory. By itself, the dough was pretty awesome. I ate all the scraps. I couldn’t help it. It was also a very easy dough to put together by hand (instead of in a stand mixer as the recipe dictates). I made it earlier in the day, formed it into a ball, and put it in the fridge to wait for dinner.
The filling is – as I said – cheese and meat, but mostly cheese: ricotta, Pecorino-Romano (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano, because I always have that on hand anyway), and mozzarella. It comes to nearly a pound and a half of cheese. Then you add in a quarter-pound of prosciutto and a few eggs. Season, and that’s it. Simple, rich, and very decidedly not healthy. I served this with a spinach salad, but if I made it again, I’d try to find a way to get some fruit or veg in there. It felt exceedingly irresponsible to make this pie. I can see why it would make a good end-of-Lent meal.
The only problem I had with this was the baking time. The recipe says 35-40 minutes. It took closer to 60. I dunno, it seems to me that, no matter how long the recipes in this book say to bake, I have to bake 10-20 minutes longer. That doesn’t happen with recipes from other books or the internet. The part about cooling it completely before serving was my oversight, though. I let it cool for 15 minutes. That was all the patience I had.
Honestly, it was fine warm. Delicious, actually. No problem!
We enjoyed this. Geordie thought the dough was a little too sweet, and I can’t argue with that. It could benefit from less sugar. Or by adding a little something sweet to the filling; Geordie suggested pear or apple, which sounds like an interesting idea. I think a little sun-dried tomato would go nicely too. Or some well-squeezed spinach. Or something! I love meat and cheese, yes, but this needs something. Having a salad with it helped, but it’d be nice to have a little healthy mixed in with the meat and cheese.
It’s something I’d make again, with just a bit of tweaking. Less sugar in the crust, and maybe some experimentation with the filling. If you approach it as an Italian-style quiche, it opens up a lot of possibilities. Because it is easy to make, can be baked ahead of time, and serves a lot if you cut small slices, it’d be a great dish to take to a pot-luck or a family get-together. It’s a little bit on the rich side, but it doesn’t feel too over-indulgent.
In other words, I liked it, and I’m glad I made it instead of the croissants.
For the recipe, check out one of the hosts for this selection from nearly a year ago. And if you’re curious about the croissants, check out today’s host for the recipe/process and some lovely pics of pastry!