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Sweet Camp Memories

Blueberry Jam Crostata

Enjoy the delicious dishes of your childhood.

When I think of my experiences at summer camp, I don’t automatically think of the “cuisine.” At 10 years old I spent the summer at Camp Sherwood, of blessed memory, in the New York Catskills. And I do mean the entire summer. At that time Jewish kids went to sleep-away camp for eight weeks. If you stayed home, you had no one to play with. My father was a singer working for Israel bonds, and while my brother, Gary, and I were away, my mother, also a singer, was free to join my dad on the road, crisscrossing the country raising money for Israel.
    I remember vividly that we campers would frequently be sent into the nearby fields to pick blueberries, which would magically appear in some form that evening in dessert. What those camp “chefs” would throw together was not even close to the blueberry crostini featured here.
  The following year we graduated to Camp Chipinaw in Swan Lake, New York—it’s still in business—quite an upgrade. As far as food memories, I recall, not the meals served, but what my parents would bring on visiting day. They would shlepp an extra-long Hebrew National Salami with rye bread and mustard for our midnight snack, making me very popular. They’d also bring these enormous, luscious peaches from the trees in our tiny yard in Belle Harbor, New York. As summer approaches, blueberries and peaches seem the perfect fit for casual entertaining or even Mother’s Day.  
  The Tomato and Peach Panzanella from “Everyday Dorie” (Rux Martin, $35) by legendary cookbook author Dorie Greenspan fairly screams summer. “Like so many good traditional dishes, panzanella was born of thrift created as a way to use stale bread,” she writes. “It’s an Italian salad that has toured the world and picked up ingredients and ingenious additions at every port. I like to add red onion, lemon zest, lemon juice and something unexpected: fruit. I love throwing peaches or nectarines into the mix, and if the grill is hot, try roasting them.”
   From “The Vegetable Eater” (Workman, $35) by Cara Mangini comes this luscious blueberry tart. “This sweet Italian–style, jam–filled crostata was made famous in my family by my great–grandmother,” she writes. “Its buttery lemon shortbread crust calls for a filling of cooked–down, overripe fruit and lattice strips casually placed over the top. My simple and fast blueberry jam filling is perfect, thickened with fiber–rich chia seeds, which are undetectable in the finished pie. A scoop of vanilla ice cream is a must when it’s time to serve.”
   I caught Mangini on Youtube, sponsored by Melissa’s Produce, demonstrating three recipes from the book: Lemony Rainbow Carrot Couscous Salad, Avocado Toast with Turmeric Nut-Seed Mix and Sheet-Pan Cauliflower Marbella with Polenta, using tubed polenta slices, so convenient. Melissa’s sells four flavors, including Hatch chili.
   “This book is really designed for every eater at the table,” Mangini said. “My goal is to have you really find joy in putting vegetables at the center of the plate.”


Tomato and Peach Panzanella

Tomato and Peach Panzanella

Yield: 6 servings

1 baguette or other sturdy loaf (about 7 ounces), preferably stale

3 tablespoons extra–virgin olive oil, or more to taste

Fine sea salt or fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper

1 pound ripe tomatoes

2 peaches or nectarines

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1/2 small red onion or more to taste, thinly sliced, rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or more to taste

Shredded fresh basil leaves or other herb(s)

1. Center a rack in oven and preheat to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

2. Tear bread into pieces just a little bigger than bite–sized, or cut it, often easier when bread is stale. Spread pieces out on baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning bread once or twice, until cubes are dry and lightly toasted.

3. Meanwhile, core tomatoes and cut into chunks. Halve and pit peaches or nectarines and cut into similar-sized chunks, catching as much juice as you can. Toss tomatoes, fruit and juice into large serving bowl.

4. Stir toasted bread into bowl. Add lemon zest and juice and stir again. Mix in onion. Let salad rest 5 to 10 minutes (or up to 1 hour).

5. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Let salad sit for a couple of minutes again, then taste for oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Scatter over the herbs and serve.

Source: “Everyday Dorie” by Dorie Greenspan

Blueberry Jam Crostata 

3 cups all–purpose flour

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Grated zest from 1 lemon (2 teaspoons)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into one–inch pieces

2 large eggs

Up to 5 teaspoons water or milk

1 1/4 cups Blueberry–Lemon Jam (recipe follows) or other favorite jam

1 tablespoon white sparkling sugar (optional)

Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350°F with a rack in middle position.

2. Crostata: Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest in bowl of food processor and pulse until blended. Scatter one fourth of the butter over flour mixture and pulse just to combine. Add remaining butter in three more rounds, pulsing each addition until just combined and mixture resembles coarse sand, about twenty 1–second pulses total. (Pea–size lumps of butter are okay.) Bowl will be quite full by last addition, so be careful opening it from here on. Lightly beat 1 egg into small bowl and add it through the top feed tube (reserve bowl). Pulse a few more times until mixture just begins to stick together in places and it’s crumbly. It should stick together when pressed with your fingers. Add 1 to 4 teaspoons water (one at a time) if needed.

3. Carefully remove lid and turn mixture over work surface. Gather dough and all crumbly bits and press and gently fold out together in one mound. Cut off about one quarter of the dough, shape into a disc, wrap in plastic, and place in fridge.

4. Press remaining dough into sides and bottom of a 10–inch fluted tart pan with removable sides. (Place pieces of dough around edges of pan and press into a mostly even layer, working your way around pan until sides are covered. Next evenly press all remaining dough into bottom of pan until it is covered.) Use clean bottom of a measuring cup to press and flatten evenly. Slide back of knife or side of offset spatula along sides to level and evenly trim dough along top of sides of pan. Place tart pan on sheet pan and freeze or refrigerate briefly while you prepare lattice topping.

5. To make lattice strips, roll out reserved chilled dough on lightly floured work surface or board, or on piece of parchment paper, into a roughly 11–inch circle. Use pizza or pastry wheel, ravioli cutter, or knife to cut 6 to 8 strips, roughly 1 inch wide. The dough is quite delicate; if it breaks, you can easily press strips back together later. Place on baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.

6. In reserved small bowl, lightly beat remaining egg with remaining teaspoon of water to make egg wash; set aside.

7. Fill crust with blueberry–lemon jam, spreading it out evenly. Carefully and evenly space and place 3 to 4 lattice strips across top horizontally, then place the other strips vertically on top using the shortest strips on the sides. (You don’t need to weave the strips, just cross them.) You want a fair amount of jam to show through. If the lattice strips or cutouts become too soft, refrigerate or freeze them for 5 to 10 minutes until firm enough to work with. The dough is delicate, but forgiving – if it breaks, gently press it back together. Gently press edges of strips into crust to seal; trim excess.

8. Brush strips of dough on top lightly with egg wash, then sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Place crostata on sheet pan and bake about 40 minutes until just turning gold in places. Transfer sheet pan to cooling rack and let cool until filling has set, at least 30 minutes. Serve topped with vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Blueberry–Lemon Jam

Use fresh or frozen blueberries or a combination.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups

4 cups ripe blueberries (about 1 pound), rinsed well, dried and stems removed

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 to 3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon chia seeds

Place blueberries, lemon juice, pinch of salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in medium saucepan. Bring to a gentle boil; then reduce heat to gently simmer blueberries, 10 to 12 minutes, until juices have run and thickened slightly. Add up to 1 more tablespoon sugar to sweeten to taste. (I generally use 2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons.) Stir in chia seeds and cook another 1 minute. Remove from heat to cool and thicken about 10 minutes, or cool completely.

Source: “The Vegetable Eater” (Workman, $35) by Cara Mangini)

Jlife Food Editor Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish” (Workman) and “The Perfect Passover Cookbook” (an e-book short from Workman), a columnist and feature writer for the Orange County Register and other publications and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.


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