I had a job interview last week. It’s been a while since I’ve had a “sit down and tell us about yourself” chat, but since I spent a great deal of time back on the other coast doing just that, I still had muscle memory for the usual prep involved. So after coordinating the various coordinates, I asked if there was anything they wanted me to bring. Here I usually expect either “no, nothing” or “could you bring a copy of your resume”. Instead I got “could you show us your crust?”
These are the times I know I made the right decision in picking up heels and pans and schlepping them 3000 miles west. Over the past, oh, 30 years of telling someone about myself, interviewers have asked me to draft new marketing pitches, submit writing samples, design lesson plans, teach a new concept, submit a 5-year strategic plan, and come up with new strategies for raising money. This, after describing my worst quality, my perfect boss, a challenge I’ve overcome, one I hadn’t, and once, having to answer what I would do if all of my staff met an untimely demise during working hours — (seriously…I wonder what the past history of that place was…) You can imagine my surprise, followed quickly by glee at last week’s request. A crust?! Hell YES I can do that! How about two? One savory, one sweet. You want all butter? Or a cookie crust? Gluten free, perhaps?
Of course, this spot-on in my wheelhouse request didn’t mean I wasn’t up at 3AM (on a day I didn’t actually have to be), thinking about prepping for my interview. But the thoughts interrupting my sleep were less “oh crap…I can’t believe I have to jump through these freakin hoops”, and more “hmm…if I do the semolina crust with a savory filling, I could use that pancetta I have…” Yup, this was definitely my kind of interview. No suit required, heels affixed to the logo graphic on my t-shirt rather than my feet, and a warm resume packed neatly in bakery box briefcase. Best of all, if things didn’t go well, at least I’d have something for lunch.
I think from now on I’ll bring a home-baked crust to all interviews, and I recommend you do the same. And for this week’s recipes? Crust of course. You’ve seen these on the blog before – they are my go-to recipes. This time around I’ve made them into a Ricotta, Apple, Onion & Pancetta Crostata with Semolina Crust, and an Apple, Almond & Frangipane Crostata with Pate Brisee. I suggest you bring them to your next interview. I can’t promise you’ll get the job, but I can promise they’ll remember you fondly.
These crusts can adapt to savory or sweet fillings and freeze well. The fillings are just two suggestions. Feel free to adapt these at will – countless creative opportunities await you too!
Ricotta, Apple, Onion & Pancetta Crostata
This recipe makes 2 approximately 6-7” crostata or 4 servings
- 1 recipe of Semolina Crust Dough, rolled out into two approximately 8″ circles, then wrapped and chilled in refrigerator
- 1 cup whole milk ricotta
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 medium onion, cut in quarters and thinly sliced
- 2 ounces pancetta, diced
- 1 granny smith apple, diced
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- A pinch of course sea salt like malden for crust
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Heat ½ the oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned. Remove to a paper towel to drain. If the pan is dry, add the remaining teaspoon oil, turn heat down to medium low and add the sliced onion, thyme and a pinch of salt. Sauté slowly until onions are soft and lightly caramelized. Set onions aside.
Take one egg yolk and put in a separate dish with a tablespoon water and mix to make an egg wash. Add the remaining yolk to the ricotta, along with 1/2 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Mix in the diced apple. Take the two crusts out of the refrigerator and put on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Spread half the ricotta mixture over one rolled out crust, leaving about an inch around the edges so you can fold over the crust. Repeat with the other crust. Mix the pancetta into the onions, then divide and spread over the ricotta on each crust.
Fold the inch of crust at the edges over the filling, gently pressing a little where the dough overlaps. Brush the dough with the egg wash, and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt.
Bake about 15-18 minutes, turning pan halfway, until the crust is golden brown.
Apple, Almond & Frangipane Crostata
This is enough for two 6-7”crostatas, or 4-6 servings
- 1 recipe of Pate Brisee, rolled out into two approximately 8″ circles, then wrapped and chilled in refrigerator
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1 ½ tsp flour
- 3 TBSP sugar
- 1 TBSP softened butter
- ¼ tsp almond extract
- 1 egg white
- A pinch salt
- 1 medium-tart apple, peeled, cored, cut in half from stem to bottom, and sliced lengthwise into about 1/8th inch slices
- Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw) for sprinkling on crust
- 1 egg yolk + 1 TBSP water for egg wash
- 1 tsp orange zest
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Add the almonds to the bowl of a processor and process a minute to chop. Remove a heaping tablespoon of the chopped nuts and reserve to sprinkle over the tart. Add the sugar to the almonds in the processor; pulse until the mixture is relatively fine. Add the remaining ingredients and process to a smooth paste. Set aside. (If you are going to assemble the crostatas later, cover and keep the frangipane in the refrigerator. You’ll want to take it out and let it come to room temperature before using so it spreads easily.)
Remove the crusts from the fridge and lay out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread half of the frangipane on one crust, leaving an inch border. Repeat with the other crust. Sprinkle half the orange zest over the frangipane. Lay out the apple slices in an overlapping circle over the filling and orange zest. Sprinkle over the reserved chopped almonds. Fold the edges of the crust over the apple slices, pressing gently where it overlaps. Brush the crusts with the egg wash, and sprinkle over the turbinado sugar. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the filling is bubbly and puffed a little and the crust is golden brown. Let cool 15 minutes before eating.
If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button.) And check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com Thanks! 🙂