Cooking At the Mall

When my friend and I signed up for a cooking class at the mall, we weren’t expecting much; it was more of an excuse to catch up and have some laughs. Little did we know our teacher/chef would turn out to be a reality TV star! What are the chances?

The cooking class turned out to be less instruction and more of a live show in which we were part of the cast, or at least that’s what it felt like. Yes, I did learn how to cook a few things but the highlight for me was hearing the chef recount his experiences on Chopped and The Next Food Network Star.

I’m not sure this can be classified as a celebrity sighting but for a Wednesday night at the mall it was pretty exciting stuff.

Our class was called Mediterranean Cooking, and the menu we cooked was easy enough for anyone to master. We started with an endive salad, moved on to a pork tenderloin dish, and finished with the showstopper, a strawberry-rasberry crostata.

The first step in making our crostata was a lesson on making pie dough from scratch. Sadly, our dough had no time to chill and it starting falling apart when we rolled it. Our chef didn’t miss a beat, he quickly whipped out some premade pie crust and the show went on.

Bake this at your next dinner party and impress your guests! But have some premade dough on hand just in case…

Berry Crostata

For the Dough:
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½ inch cubes
¼ cup to 1/3 cup ice water

Place the flour and salt in a pastry blender or food processor. Add the butter cubes and mix until the butter is the size of small peas. Add the ice water one tablespoon at a time until large clumps form. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead gently 4 or 5 times. Flatten the dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour before rolling.

For the Crostata:
1 pie dough (see above) or premade pie crust
3 cups strawberries, cut into ½ inch dice
1 cup raspberries (frozen are fine)
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 large egg, beaten
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove dough from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before rolling to allow it to soften slightly. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a large circle (or square if you are working with premade), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Roll until the circle (or close to a circle) is about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet and let chill for 30 minutes.
IMG_8802Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl combine the strawberries and raspberries. Sprinkle with the flour, lemon juice, and 2/3 cup sugar. Toss to combine until the fruit is evenly coated.
IMG_8762Remove the chilled dough and mound the fruit in the center, leaving a 1 ½ inch border around the edge.
IMG_8775Fold the border up around the fruit, pleating it around the circular enclosure, leaving the center open. Use your palms to gently squeeze down the pleats all around and towards the center. The first one I made exploded in the oven so this is an important step. Brush the top of the pleated dough with the egg and sprinkle with remaining sugar.
IMG_8776Place crostata in oven and bake until crust is deep golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, about 40-45 minutes. Gently lift the crostata to check that the underside is also done and browned. Let cool before slicing.

IMG_8825Whipped cream is optional but highly recommended!

And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “It’s too sweet! I wish there was a cake of just crust only…”
Liam (age 5): “Mmmm, good strawberry cake”
Dylan (age 5): “Only whipped cream please”

Not exactly the showstopper I had planned but I think Chef Proietti would be proud!

Posing with Chef Michael Proietti

Posing with Chef Michael Proietti






9 thoughts on “Cooking At the Mall

  1. Hi,
    We were away so I just go this. I remember him from the food channel. I love Chopped; such a lot of fun, although I would never even consider making anything from their ingredients. By the way, Cooking Light has a column, similar to your blog, “Cooking for Kids.”
    B ill suggested, and he is write, you “copyright your blog if you haven’t done so already, I can get you the info. about doing that on line from my attorney friend. Intellectual property should always be copyrighted. Once you have done that you should contact Cooking Light; they might like to use some of your stuff…you could have a new career in the making!
    I love the strawberry recipe and since we love any dessert with fruit, it will be a keeper!
    Love, Judy and Bill

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