Crostata di Marmellata di Fichi

It all started with a jar of jam. A beautiful, urn-like, Costco-sized jug really, filled with sparkling fig jam. Fig is my favorite, next to apricot, and the best brand is Tuna’s (which Caravan stopped carrying!) I was so sad until that moment in Costco. That is, until I got home.
Because, you see, this gorgeous golden Greek jug of hope held a horrible, horrible secret that only revealed itself when you took your first bite. Vanilla. They put FUCKING VANILLA in the jam. It tasted like my father’s pipe tobacco smelled. So, great. Now I had a Costco-sized jug of inedible fig jam taking up precious refrigerator space. And it stayed there for several months while I decided what to do. Then it occurred to me: crostata di mamellata!! Of course. Found a nice nonna recipe on The YouTube. It used oil and eggs in the crust – intriguing! I tried it and took it in to the office. It was lovely, and consumed with glee.

But overall the feedback was that it was too sweet – I’d made the layer of jam too thick. Everyone loved the vanilla now that it was in a tarte. I thought the crust needed a pinch of salt, and would taste better with butter than oil. General consensus was that it tasted like a giant fig newton. I’m cool with that. And realized essentially this is like those stained glass cookies you make for the winter holidays.

Fast forward to Saturday morning, time to try those adaptations. This time the dough mixed in the food processor, and I used melted butter instead of the oil. I thought this was a good idea. Oh, lawdee lawdee lawd. Do not ever do this. Ever. For reals. Learn from my pain. What an awful, greasy glob it made. I hoped by putting it back in the fridge for an hour, it would become useable. It was. Whew, dodged that bullet.

For the sweetness, the second batch which (THANK GAWD) finally ends that damn jar of fig jam, I stirred in the juice of one lemon. That did the trick, and balanced out the sweetness nicely. If I could do dairy, a dollop of mascarpone or plain Greek yogurt would be absolute heaven on this puppy.

The next time I make this, I will use either apricot or bosenberry jam. And I shall feast, betches!

Let’s make this – and I hope you check out the nonna video – I love the Italian technique, whether it is pasta for noodles or for pastry you beat that egg then slowly add in the flour. With your damn hand, dammit. Because centuries of practice going back to the Roman Empire cannot be wrong.

Crostata di marmellata
2 eggs, beaten
½ c. butter, cool-ish
½ c. sugar
1 tsp bkp pwd
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp. salt
2 c. AP Flour
sparkle sugar
Filling: a jar of jam (about 1.5-2c)

Set aside 2Tbsp. of the egg. Preheat your oven to 350*. In the bowl of your food processor, put the dry ingredients and briefly pulse to combine them. Add the butter, pulse til it looks like fine crumbs. Add the liquid, and pulse again to combine.
You will wind up with a crumbly mass. Turn it out on your floured board and gently knead a few times. Cut off 1/3 and set it aside. Roll out the larger piece to fit the bottom and sides of your pan(s). Fit it in the pan and trim the edges. Roll out the remaining dough to the same thickness (about 1/4″) in a big rectangle-ish shape and using a swirly-edged pasta cutter, slice it in to ½” wide strips. place these in the lattice style of your choice on top of the jam, and pinch them in to the dough at the edge. You’ll have many strips left. When that is done, smoosh down the dough at the sides of the pan with your finger, it should be about ¼” higher than the jam. Take the remaining strips and place them around the circumference. Gently brush all the dough with the reserved beaten egg, and sprinkle with the sparkle (or normal, or turbinado) sugar.
Bake 350* for 40m. Cool completely before slicing. Then have with your afternoon caffe with the neighbors.

Count Dracula’s Pasta Dinner



We are so lucky to have this amazing Italian deli and food shop in town, Roma Imports. They make their own sauces, sausages, desserts, and carry salume  and pasta like that reginette in the photo that we otherwise just would not find here.

We are in love with their Count Dracula sausage, and it is my favorite to use when making what my Italian-American friends call “gravy” (and what the rest of us call pasta sauce.)  It is a beautiful thing, bursting with juicy porky goodness, seasoned with lots of hot pepper and garlic. YUM! 
Since we don’t do the whole primo/secondo thing at our house, we like to slice the sausage in the sauce after it’s cooked. It serves more that way, I think. But hey, I’m a cheap ass. Ask my husband. 



Count Dracula's Pasta Dinner
Serves 8
Spicy sausage tomato sauce served with reginette noodles, whose wavy edges really hold the sauce.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
3 hr
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
3 hr
711 calories
95 g
43 g
25 g
25 g
7 g
369 g
584 g
9 g
0 g
16 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 711
Calories from Fat 222
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 25g
Saturated Fat 7g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 12g
Cholesterol 43mg
Sodium 584mg
Total Carbohydrates 95g
Dietary Fiber 6g
Sugars 9g
Protein 25g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1 pound hot italian sausage
  2. 1 28oz can peeled tomatoes
  3. 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
  4. 1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
  5. 3 stalks of celery, diced
  6. 1/2 medium white onion, diced
  7. 2 medium carrots, diced
  8. 2 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  9. 2 Tbsp. Penzey's Tuscan Sunset seasoning (or plain old Italian seasoning, or1 1/2 tsp each dried: marjoram, basil, oregano, and 1 tsp rosemary)
  10. 1 Tsp. Fennel seeds
  11. 1/3 bottle soft red wine (TJ's 3-buck-chuck Syrah or Merlot, for example)
  12. 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  13. 2 pounds long pasta (spaghetti, reginette, linguini, whatever floats your boat)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Get out your big enameled dutch oven, or your crock pot. Open the canned whole tomatoes, dump them in and smoosh them with your clean hands (or your potato masher if you're a big wimp). Dump in the other tomatoes and sauce, and add the garlic and herbs. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large non-stick skillet on medium. Add the olive oil and the veggies and sauté until they begin to soften. Add them to the sauce. Now turn up the heat to medium high and brown the sausages on all sides. When they are on their last side, pour the wine over them and cook it down for just a couple minutes while you deglaze the bottom of the pan. Toss all that in to the sauce. Stir. Cover and put in the oven (or the crock pot on high) for two and half to three hours. Go past that at your own risk (the tomato starts to taste burn-y) or else have that oven at 300* from the get-go and cross your fingers.
  3. About half an hour before you're ready to have dinner, put on the pasta pot and follow the package directions to cook the noodles of your choice. While the water is heating, take the dutch oven out of the oven and remove the sausages to a plate to cool a few minutes. While they cool, take your stick blender or your potato masher and puree the sauce. Taste the sauce and adjust any seasoning (need more garlic? more herbs? more hot pepper? Possibly salt?) Once they're cool enough to handle, slice them or dice them and put them back in the sauce. Or, leave them whole. Since we don't do the whole primo/secundo thing at our house, I like to dice them up so I get yummy sausage in every bite.
  4. When your pasta is done (don't overcook it!!), reserve about half a cup of the pasta water before you drain it. Return the pasta to the pasta pot, and put in a couple cups of the sauce and the pasta water. Stir it all together. Serve, garnished with a good freshly grated pecorino romano and red pepper flakes, and extra sauce on the side.
  1. This sauce is also really good over polenta. It freezes beautifully, too.
Bucket of Yum