The new recipes that I tried for our celebration last night with JS and JO were a hit.
First off, we had wonderful starters prepared by JS. Perfectly ripe honeydew melon draped in shaved proscuitto and creamy, rich deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika were devoured by our intimate group.
I was too busy lounging around, kid-free, during the day to mentally time the meal and I forgot that I wanted to bake a fresh loaf of bread (from dough that I had made a few days ago – from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day). While it takes no time flat to make the bread dough, it still takes a while to let it rest out of the fridge and then to bake. And, I forgot about the beets. So, after we talked and talked, while I was getting the fruit tart ready, I looked at the clock and said, “Whoa, look at the time. Is it o.k. if we wait a little while for dinner?” “Sure,” S and our guests replied. I got out the bread dough, put it on a pizza peel to rise for 40 minutes and got started on the beets and beet greens.
In the last little bit, before the bread was out of the oven, and while the pork was grilling, we ate the Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho. It was, as billed, fantastic. I used the recipe that my sister-in-law, AB, sent to me. I made a couple of changes to it. One was out of necessity, the other was out of preference. The one out of necessity was that there was no fresh dill at the store – weird. So, I substituted fresh basil (which was in my fridge) and fresh oregano (from the garden). Truthfully, I was surprised at dill as the herb for this soup, because I think of oregano as an herb that complements feta beautifully. The substitution of herbs was one that had occurred to me already and having it forced on me was no problem. The second change was in texture. I like my gazpacho a little chunky. Therefore, I reserved some of the tomatoes and watermelon and put them in at a point where they wouldn’t get pureed.
The resulting soup had a great texture, a bunch of heat from the serrano pepper, saltiness from the feta, and a subtle sweetness from the watermelon. The picture doesn’t do the soup justice – in fact, it may actually detract from any desire to make it. But rest assured, it tastes much better than it looks – and I should have garnished it for the picture. Oh, well.
The next new recipe that I tested was for the Strawberry and Blueberry Tart. I tried 2 new recipes in the creation of this dessert. First was a new sweet tart crust from Baking: From my Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan. And, without any hesitation, I can say that this was absolutely the easiest, most wonderfully sandy, crisp, perfect tart crust that I have ever tasted or made. I can’t wait to make it again.
I can not, however, say the same for the pastry cream that I originally made. I’m sure that it was my own error. The recipe also came from Dorie Greenspan’s book, but I halved the recipe and probably did something wrong. It came out way too thick and gunky. No matter, nothing a little addition of heavy cream and vigorous whisking couldn’t solve. The pastry cream was saved. I topped the tart with fresh strawberries and blueberries and glazed it with some pomegranate jelly (there was no currant jelly at the store, either – perhaps a conspiracy?) thinned with a little Grand Marnier. This was, without a doubt, the best fruit tart that I’ve ever made – I’m not sure if that is actually saying much, but it was really pretty and very delicious.
Here are the recipes.
Strawberry and Blueberry Tart
I’ll link to the tart shell by Dorie Greenspan, as I followed her directions to the letter. I did roll out the dough, instead of pressing it into the pan and was able to do this immediately after processing it by rolling the dough between two sheets of waxed paper (I sprinkled some flour on the paper and dough so that they wouldn’t stick). I also made the dough a double thickness, at the edges, by folding over the excess and pressing it into the sides. Note, in the link, the recipe for the tart dough is at the bottom of the post – I did not make the tart in the post, which does look good!
1 fully baked (and cooled) tart shell using Dorie Greenspan’s Sweet Tart Dough
1 cup pastry cream
1 pint fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried and hulled
1 pint fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1/4 cup currant or pomegranate jelly heated and thinned with 1 tsp. Grand Marnier liquer
Spread the pastry cream in the bottom of the tart shell. Evenly arrange the strawberries, cut side down, on top of the pastry cream. Sprinkle the blueberries over the pastry cream where it is still showing, around and between the strawberries. Brush the heated jelly over the berries to glaze the tart. Refrigerate until ready to eat.
Watermelon and Tomato Gazpacho
adapted from Tyler Florence
3 c. chopped tomatoes
3 c. cubed & seeded watermelon
1 serrano chile, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
¼ c. flavorful extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp minced red onion
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
salt & pepper
¼ c. crumbled feta cheese
In a blender, puree half of the tomatoes and half of watermelon, the serrano chile, the basil and the oregano. Add the remaining tomatoes and watermelon, the red wine vinegar and olive oil and pulse once or twice just to blend, making sure that the watermelon and tomato do not get pureed. Pour the contents of the blender into a serving bowl and fold in the onion and the cucumber . Season with salt & pepper, to taste. Serve lightly chilled or at room temperature, sprinkled with the feta.