How do I love town markets! Those that are still held once a week, those where the food counters are always the same for years, the only survivors from the invasion – albeit shy in the province – of cloths and junk made in China.
Fruits and vegetables, often picked up in the area, are brought to the market with the van or the “ape cross” and sold directly so, without being even discharged, sometimes saved by the hot sun thanks to a large umbrella unlikely fastened to the cockpit. The cheese maker, who always seems to have just descended from the pasture, exhibits his cheeses in tiny wooden cabinets with the door made of thin net. The olive oil maker – on whose counter shaky castles of olives in brine jars tower – offers small samples of bread and oil pierced by toothpicks. And the butcher, with his shiny truck garnished by curtains inevitably in white and red stripes, who sells with sober presumption a few big cuts of meat and some paunchy homemade sausages.
Everyone knows each other, by name or by sight. The counters where to buy, if you are a stranger, are generally those where more people are queuing, better if they are old people.
Last Thursday, the market day from time immemorial in Cervo, I could not withstand all the summer fruits that practically rolled down from a small blue ape cross. I bought plums, plums, cherries, apricots and peaches. A jubilation of colors that hides the very flavour of the warm sun.
And if the opportunity makes the thief, the impulsive shopping makes the creative chef.
So back home I went to browse all the books of Ligurian recipes scattered here is there in the various bookshelves, all quite tired old editions of my ancestors, looking for some fruit-based sweet to cook and tell here. Because, I admit, I also wanted to take some nice photos of the fruits to publish.
It did not happen to me right away, because it is not a well-known recipe, but in the end here it is: the “giardiniera dolce”. Virtually a Ligurian version of the English pies.
It’s a summer fruit pie made of a shortbread shell with a filling of mixed fruits slightly cooked and flavored with rhum and mixed candied fruits.
Just for fun instead of making a single cake I made many small cakes using star-shaped ramekins. In the end, this has turned out to be the most creative thing I’ve done, since I have caught the recipe in the repertoire of traditional cooking. But this is fine, it was a new adventure for me anyway.
It is a dessert to serve cool, very good if accompanied by an ice cream ball and, therefore, perfect for closing a summer dinner. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!
- 6 oz (170 grams) of unsalted butter cubed and softened
- 10 oz (280 g) of all-purpose flour
- 3,5 oz (100 g) of powdered sugar, plus that needed to decorate
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon of raisins wine or marsala
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 lb of seasonal fruit already peeled and without hazel
- 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons rhum
- 3,5 oz (100 g) of coarsely chopped candied fruit (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
- Mix the butter with the flour by reducing it with the tip of your fingers in very small flakes. Add sugar, egg, liqueur and salt. Mix quickly until you have obtained a homogeneous mixture, dived in two balls and place them in the fridge for at least half an hour.
- In a saucepan, melt the butter into the fruit in pieces over low heat When the butter is completely melted, add the sugar and let the saucepan sit over low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring ever few. Remove from the heat and add two tablespoons of rhum and the candied fruits chopped (if you have them). Let cool for 15-30 minutes and prepare your bottom crust as you wait.
- Take one of the dough halves from the fridge and carefully roll it out on a floured countertop until its about 10-11 inches in diameter.
- Carefully remove the dough disc into your 7 inch (18 cm) pie pan (or into some smaller ramekins) leaving some dough off the edges.
- Drill it with the tips of a fork and then sprinkle with plenty of breadcrumbs (it will help absorb the juices of the fruit). Pour the fruit mixture into the dough shell.
- Preheat the oven at 180 °.
- Pull the second dough ball out of the fridge, roll it out like the first one and lay it over the filling taking care to let a little dough come out of the edges.
- Seal the filling by pressing with your fingers or with a fork along the edges of the pie pan (or ramekins) and finish by removing excess dough with a knife.
- Bake the pie for 45 minutes or until the dough will look crispy and golden (ramekins take a shorter time)
- Let it cook for about 2 hours before serving. Decorate with powdered sugar. Slice and enjoy with ice cream of by itself.
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