As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that unless you live on the same block or work in nearby offices, it becomes harder and harder to ensure that you’re seeing friends on a regular basis. Add babies to the mix (as many of my generation have been doing lately) and it becomes even more challenging.
To combat this, I help organize a monthly potluck for some of my favorite folks, to ensure that we see each other with some regularity. Each month, we gather around one of our dining tables with dishes in hand and spend a few hours eating, drinking and catching up.
Because I’ve known this collection of couples for nearly a decade, they’ve eaten all my standby recipes, sometimes many times over. I regularly feel like I have to step up my contributions to our community table to keep things from getting boring.
For this month’s gathering, I went in search of a recipe that would feature the oranges, lemons and grapefruit currently in season. What I found was Giada’s Citrus Crostada. It’s a shortbread tart crust, filled with slightly sweetened mascarpone and topped with a homemade citrus jam. It was a hit with my friends and is perfect for The Weekender.
Before you start cooking your jam, here are a few things you should know:
- If segmenting the citrus feels overwhelming, know that you could substitute a jar of good-quality marmalade to make it less energy-intensive.
- The mascarpone needs to be at room temperature to spread nicely into the shell. If you forgot to pull it out of the fridge early enough, just use a hand mixer. The motion of the beaters will aerate and soften the mascarpone, making it perfectly spreadable.
- Giada instructs you to build a free-form shell for this crostada. Because I can’t sculpt a circle to save my life, I used a scalloped edge tart pan to keep things uniform. You should feel free to do the same.
- Know that the crostada shell will shrink during baking. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her first cookbook, also called Food in Jars, will be published by Running Press in spring 2012.