It is no secret that I have a love affair with pistachios, this aromatic nut is flavorful and holds its own when combined with meats such as beef and sheep, but is as gentle as a lamb when whipped into a gelato and candies or used as a base for my smooth and tasty pistachio pesto and cream sauce. But then again, you will often just find me eating them right out of a plain paper sack, satisfied to snack on instead of the alternative, oily roasted peanuts and potato chips.
I'm always looking for ways to incorporate pistachios into my home cooking, and when I found that I had a couple extra cups the same night I was making a collection of savory pastries I began combining flavors in my head. The pistachio and ground sirloin were definitely the stars, but they combined well with sauteed shallots, fennel and garlic, red pepper flakes, capers, raisins and a sweet port wine.
I first browned my ground sirloin, then added red pepper flakes as well as cayenne pepper, ground black pepper, salt, capers and raisins. In a food processor I ground my shelled pistachios and then added them to the beef mix.
In a separate saute pan in olive oil I lightly sauteed my chopped shallots and fennel till translucent. Then I added my finely chopped garlic and continued to saute till golden. This was then added to the pistachio beef mix. I approximately used 1 onion, 1 shallot and 3 cloves of garlic.
When all ingredients were combined I then added a few more teaspoons of olive oil, a 1/4 cup of wine and a dab of butter plus a few more seasonings for taste. A note on the wine.. I love a rich fortified wine with the beef to add a sweet and savory flavor. You can add any fruity white wine that would pair well with the raisins.. a Muscat Canelli would be wonderful! I had Port on hand and the sweet thickness of it goes so well with plums, prunes and raisins.. so this is what I happened to use for the raisins sake. :)
(The addition of a sweet wine is key to this flavorful savory tart)
The "pastry" is a post in itself. Pasta Frolla is the typical Southern Italian pastry for Rustici and Crostata's. It is by far my favorite pastry to use and is not too hard to make. It tastes like a combination of a shortbread crust and pie pastry dough, but in my opinion is better than both and holds up to many a pastry dessert.
I do love Nick Malgieri's pastry recipe's, and his are usually my "go to" recipes of choice.
But this Italian Pasta Frolla recipe is the basic recipe you can find in almost any Italian cookbook or Nonna's kitchen collection.
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 freshly grated lemons, zest of or 1 oranges
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large eggs, beaten lightly
1 teaspoon vanilla
1.In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and zest.
2.Cut in the butter, until it resembles coarse meal.
3.Add the egg and the vanilla and toss the mixture until incorporated.
4.Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead very lightly, forming into a disk.
5.Chill, wrapped in plastic at least 1 hour or overnight.
6.Let the dough stand at room temperature until softened, but still firm enough to roll out.
Buon Anno and Buon Appetito!!
I hope you and yours enjoy a Blessed New Year,
From My Kitchen..