Lemon Crostata, Holiday Sugar Cookies and a Double Holiday Giveaway!

Thanksgiving is yet to be a faded memory and Chanukah is already welcoming us this coming Wednesday.  Before I embark on a weeklong Israeli, American, cider, baked and fried doughnut making extravaganza, let's backtrack.  This past Thanksgiving I made a classic Lemon Crostata from Domenica Marchetti's  Big Night In. I was at awe at the flavor intensity of this no fuss lemon curd. It paired beautifully with the sweet pastry (pasta frolla) crust. The remainder of the dough I used for holiday sugar cookies, sprinkled the dough with naturally dyed sugars, some finicky kids as well as the adults could not stop munching on those. These both are classic elegant lemon dessert and cookies for every day and the holidays.
To show the versatility of this dough, Lora @cakeduchess, a wonderful baker and a great twitter friend, put another twist to this wonderful sweet pastry dough and made chocolate hazelnut cookies you can find here.  Both Lora and I are doing Domenica's Big Night In  giveaway. We thought to publish a double giveaway simultaneously to double your chances at winning this wonderful Big Night In cookbook and enjoy it for the Holidays. Please visit Lora's post and enter your comment here as well for doubling your chances.

Domenica Marchetti, a local cookbook author with a national reputation is a lovely lady with many accolades under her belt. I believe she is Ivy League educated and the author of  Big Night In . This Italian treasure of a book will be a fixture in your kitchen. Domenica also has two books coming out in 2011, The Glorious Pasta of Italy (Chronicle) in the spring, and a book on rustic Italian cooking (Williams-Sonoma) in the fall.  Big Night In was named one of the 25 best cookbooks of the year by the editors of Food and Wine. Domenica is a contributor to many magazines and newspapers including the Washington Post Food Section. You can find her full bio here.
*Book cover photo compliments of Chronicle Books and Domenica Marchetti

To enter giveaways:
1. Please follow on twitter @domenicacooks 
2. Please follow @foodwanderings on twitter
3. Another way to win: Tweet the following: YOU should enter the GIVEAWAY to WIN Big Night In by @domenicacooks from @foodwanderings. Enter here: http://bit.ly/gNRBtG
4. LIKE foodwanderings Facebook page if you have Facebook
5. Leave a comment on this post! You are encouraged to share a comment about Domenica's Big Night In   or any other thoughts.
6. If you RT or post on your Facebook page this giveaway post link, you get an additional entry. Please drop me an additional comment on this post saying that you did so.
7. To get an additional chance in the giveaway, become a "follower" of  'Food Wanderings' blog.
8. Drawing will be done randomly from all comments recorded by Sunday, December 5 by midnight and lucky winner-will announced on Monday, December 6.
9. Shipping only in the US. Sorry my friends overseas, I hope one day I can afford the postage
10. Don't forget to go to Lora's site and enter the giveaway there.

Sweet Pastry Dough (Pasta Frolla)
Recipes and Lemon Crostata photo compliments of Chronicle Books and Domenica Marchetti

This tender dough is known as pasta frolla in Italian. It is rich and buttery, with a
hint of lemon. It has a crumbly shortbread texture when baked. Be sure to chill the
dough thoroughly—for at least 1 hour—after making it (overnight is fine). Remove
it from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before rolling it out so that the butter
softens and the dough becomes pliable. Use a lightly floured surface to roll out the
dough and do not overwork it; too much flour and handling will yield a tough dough.
Makes enough dough for one 9-inch lattice-top tart or one single-crust 11-inch tart

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the work surface
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup (2 sticks) coldunsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks

Put the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest in the work bowl of a food processor fitted
with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to combine the ingredients. Distribute the butter
around the bowl and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add the egg and egg yolks
and process until the dough just begins to come together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it together. Knead
it briefly and shape it into a disk. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1
hour, until well chilled.

Lemon Crostata
I am convinced that a lemon tart can successfully follow just about any meal. There
is something about its freshness that makes it thoroughly welcome at the end of
dinner. This one is especially nice because it is so easy to make—no messing around
with cooking a lemon curd on the stove top, no risk of curdling.
Makes one 11-inch tart

For the tart shell:1 batch Sweet Pastry Dough (pasta frolla)
Unbleached all-purpose flour for the work surface
For the filling:
5 large eggs
2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons lemon zest
Pinch of salt
Confectioners’ sugar for garnish
To make the tart shell:
Cut the dough disk into 2 portions, one slightly larger than the other. Rewrap the
smaller portion and set aside. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the larger
portion into a 13-inch round about 1/8-inch thick or slightly thicker. Carefully wrap
the dough around the rolling pin and drape it over an 11-inch fluted tart pan with a
removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the
pan. Trim the overhang to about 1/2 inch and fold it in, pressing it against the inside
rim to reinforce the sides of the tart shell. Use the rolling pin or the flat of your hand
to press around the perimeter of the pan to cut off any excess dough. Put the lined
tart pan in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and line it with a piece of heavy-duty
aluminum foil (or 2 pieces of regular aluminum foil to create a double thickness).
Fill the lined shell with pie weights or dried beans and bake for 20 minutes. Remove
the foil and the beans and bake for 15 more minutes, until the crust is light golden.
While the shell is baking, roll out the remaining piece of dough to 1/8-inch
thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out decorative shapes (stars, moons, or
whatever you like) to adorn the top of the tart. Or use a sharp paring knife to cut out
a lemon shape about 4 inches long and 3 inches wide, and a pair of oval leaves. Score
the leaves lightly with the blade of the knife to resemble the ribs. Place the dough
cut-outs on a rimmed baking sheet and refrigerate until the tart shell has finished
Remove the tart shell from the oven and let cool slightly on a rack. Set the cut-out
stars in the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the edges are lightly browned.
Transfer the cut-outs to a rack to cool.

To make the filling and bake the crostata:Whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, lemon juice and zest, and salt until well
blended. (Be sure to whisk by hand rather than with an electric mixer, as the latter
will incorporate too much air into the filling). Pour the filling into the baked tart
shell. Set the crostata in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is
just set. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature on a rack. Carefully
remove the fluted ring from around the crostata and transfer the crostata to a
decorative serving plate. Dust the tart with confectioners’ sugar. Arrange the cookie
cut-outs as you please on top of the tart and serve.
Do Ahead: The pastry dough may be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated
or up to 1 month in advance and frozen. Bring the dough to room temperature or
slightly cooler before rolling it out.

For presentation purposes more than anything, this crostata is best served on the
day it is made. But it may be made early in the day and left at room temperature
until serving time. Leftovers keep beautifully in the refrigerator for at least 2 days
without the crust getting soggy (I have never had any leftovers hang around any
longer than that).