Even for those of us who really love to cook and entertain, there are days when a few “shortcuts” are necessary to get the job done! Maybe its the boyfriend or hubby calling late in the day to say that dinner reservations for his client can’t be had so can you “throw something together” or maybe its a late Sunday afternoon case of “everyone dropping in to say hi and OH What’s for Dinner?” or maybe you just actually really do feel like having guests over but are short on the luxury of time. In any case, and in response to the requests, I get for “entertaining shortcuts, secrets and sidesteps”, I am devoting a Sunday blog this Fall to this topic.
Sunday Secrets will share some of my most protected secrets on what can be done on a “bad TV Wednesday night” to prepare for a weekend of entertaining ahead. It will share products I use that are GASP – “off the shelf” like marinades and sauces. So go ahead, send in your requests for specific shortcut secrets and in the meantime I will pass on my deepest darkest secrets!
These two “sweet” doughs are saving grace. You can make them anytime and keep them in the freezer until needed. Both of these keep easily over a month, if not more, and have multiple applications for desserts and sweet treats. I even break the dough into individual tart or pie portions to make it even easier. *Hot tip – Wrap dough in plastic wrap and then into individual plastic sandwich bags for extra protection against freezer leaks or burn. Mark each bag with the date it entered the freezer. Its never a good thing to be half way into a pie and realize the crust was made in 2004.
Crostata / Pie Dough
*This dough is my go-to for making Fruit Crostatas, literally in under 10 minutes.
2 Cups Flour
1 Cup Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
In a bowl mix the flour, sugar and salt. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add one egg. Using your hands, oh yeah its the best way, knead into soft dough. If it is sticky add just a bit more flour. Do not over work. You want it soft. One recipe makes 1 generous crostata (feeds 6). So double or triple and then divide dough accordingly. Freeze.
When the neighbors show up on Friday at 8 with a roast chicken and fixins but no dessert – Guess who is ready?
Take the dough out of freezer and let thaw for 30 min. Roll out into a very rough circle on parchment paper on a baking tray. Add any berries or stone fruit or apples or pears (you get the idea) in a bowl. Toss with a pinch of sugar, a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of flour. Arrange on the dough and pull up the edges of dough up 1/4 inch to meet the fruit. Quick beat an egg and brush over the crust (we like ’em shiny). Bake crostata at 350 for 30 min. (Recipe is in the book, which I know you have right?)
Nutty Cookie/Tart Dough
*Love Love this dough. It makes the most scrumptious lemon tarts, marmalade thumbprint cookies, nutty tea cookies or chocolate sandwich cookies. You can use hazelnuts, pecans or walnuts rather than pine nuts if desired. They all work equally well.
2 Cups Pine Nuts
3 Cups Flour
1/3 Cup Sugar
8 Oz. Unsalted Butter, room temp
1 Tsp. Vanilla (good quality)
In a food processor, chop the nuts rather finely. Add the sugar, then flour and continue to mix until the nuts are finely ground in the mixture.
In a separate mixing bowl combine butter, egg, sugar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix well (again by hand is the best! It’s therapeutic I promise). Dough is ready. This dough makes roughly 24 mini muffin pan tarts or same amount of teaspoon cookies.
When in a pinch for a dessert or sweet treat, pull this dough out, let thaw for a bit and then make cookies or tarts. The dough does need to proof for about 10 minutes (for a tart) in a 350 degree oven. When you remove, use a fork to let out the “air” as the dough will rise a bit. Let cool and then fill with lemon sabayon (lemon tarts) or rich chocolate Nutella sauce for chocolate tarts! Even fresh fruit works well.
Too many delicious sweet treats fresh from your oven – the EZ way!