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Prolific cookbook author and restaurant consultant Joyce Goldstein has written a new book about Antipasti, the precursors to a fabulous Italian meal. She calls herself a traditionalist, but her recipes are beautiful, classic approaches in which she uses market fresh ingredients. The book is lavish with color photos and best of all, Joyce's recipes really work. Here are two to get you started.

Torta di Peperoni Alia Salsa di Acciughe (Sweet Red Pepper Tart with Anchovy Cream)
"I first tasted a version of this tart at Garamond, a charming restaurant in Turin. It was presented as a tartlet, topped with two small, slightly spicy roasted green peppers and served with a creamy anchovy sauce. At home, I make a single large tart instead, which is less labor-intensive than rolling out individual tartlet crusts and is equally tasty. To match the slightly hot green pepper, I have suggested strips of roasted poblanos. If, however, your farmers' market has pimientos de padrón, small, mildly hot green chiles from Galicia, they would be ideal. They can be sauteed in olive oil at the last minute and sprinkled with fleur de sel."
Serves 8 to 10

For the pastry

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 Tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons ice water, or as needed
For the filling
  • 3 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and puréed (about 1 cup purée) (see note)
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the anchovy cream
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped (optional)
  • 8 olive oil-packed anchovy fillets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream, or as needed
  • Strips of roasted poblano or padrón chiles (optional)
  1. To make the pastry, in a bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, Add the 2 tablespoons ice water and gradually work it into the flour mixture with your fingers until the dough barely holds together, adding a little more ice water if needed. Do not overwork the dough, or it will be tough. Alternatively, combine the flour and salt in a food processor and process briefly to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. With the motor running, add the 2 tablespoons ice water and process just until the dough barely holds together, adding more ice water if needed. Gather the dough into a ball, pat it into a thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into an 11-inch round about 1/8 inch thick. Carefully transfer the dough round to a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom or a 9-inch pie pan and ease it into the bottom and sides. If using a tart pan, trim the overhang to make a neat edge, fold the overhang inward to reinforce the sides, and then run the rolling pin across the top of the pan to trim off the excess dough. If using a pie pan, trim the overhang to about 1/2 inch, fold the overhang under, and attractively flute the edge or leave it plain. (You can wrap the pastry-lined pan and keep it in the freezer for up to 1 day before baking.)
  4. Line the pastry-lined pan with aluminum foil, allowing it to overhang the edge slightly, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, Remove the weights and foil and bake until pale gold and the bottom is set, about 5 minutes longer. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 375°F.
  5. To make the filling, in a bowl, whisk together the pepper purée, tomato paste, milk, eggs, flour, and cheese. Season generously with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour the filling into the partially baked crust. Bake until the custard is set, about 25 minutes.
  7. While the tart is baking, make the anchovy cream: In a small saucepan, combine the olive oil, garlic (if using), and anchovies and warm gently, stirring occasionally, until the anchovies melt into the oil. Whisk in the 1/2 cup cream and simmer gently until well blended. Taste and if the flavor is too strong, add a little more cream. Remove from the heat and reheat before serving.
  8. Remove the tart from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove the sides of the tart pan and transfer the tart to a serving plate (or serve directly from the pan if you have used a pie pan). Cut into wedges and serve warm. Top each slice with a few strips of roasted chile, if using, and place a spoonful of anchovy cream on the side.
NOTE: Although not authentic, jarred roasted Spanish piquillo peppers can be used in place of the bell peppers. They have a more intense perfume than the domestic bells.
WINE: You cannot go wrong with a dry sparkling wine, either Prosecco or Franciacorta. You could also pair this antipasto with a ripe, flinty Gavi di Gavi. Look for Villa Sparina, one of the best producers.

Caprino Alia Salsa Rossa (Goat Cheese with Spicy Tomato Sauce)
"Nothing could be simpler than coating a few rounds of cheese with a spicy tomato sauce. This Piedmontese classic, sometimes called tomini elettrici, or "electric cheese," will certainly stimulate your appetite. A tomino is a soft fresh cheese that is often made from cow's milk, but can be made from goat's milk or a combination of the two. Although this recipe calls for caprino, or a small fresh goat cheese, you may use any fresh cheese that you find at your market. Serve with slices of warm toast or grilled bread. Any extra sauce can be refrigerated and later served as an accompaniment to cooked beef or boiled or roasted chicken."
Serves 8

For the sauce

    2 tsps red pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and finely chopped plum tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 1/2 cup tomato purée
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Sugar, if needed
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 rounds fresh goat cheese, each 2 or 3 ozs
  • A few handfuls of salad greens dressed with extra-virgin olive oil (optional)
  • Toasted or grilled bread slices
  1. To make the sauce, in a small saucepan, heat the red pepper flakes in the olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. Turn off the heat and let stand for a few minutes longer, so that the pepper flavor infuses the oil. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, vinegar, and a little sugar for balance if the sauce seems too tart, place the pan over low heat, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 20 minutes.
  2. Remove the sauce from the heat, season to taste with salt and pepper, and let cool completely. Taste again and adjust the seasoning. Arrange the goat cheese rounds on salad plates and spoon the sauce evenly over the cheeses. For a contemporary touch, garnish the plates with some greens, if desired. Serve the bread on the side.

WINE: Red wine is best here because of the forthright sauce. Try one from the Piedmont, such a juicy Dolcetto or a Nebbiolo d'Alba. A dry spumante would complement the sauce and cheese, too.
From Antipasti Fabulous Appetizers and Small Plates by Joyce Goldstein


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