Monday, June 8, 2009

Dinner party!

Saturday night we had my husband's two sisters and one of their boyfriends (got that?) over for dinner.

On the menu was fresh, homemade focaccia:

Tomato Parmesan

Garlic and rosemary

Salad with mango, pepper and goat cheese (+ local mesclun!),

There was also risotto and some awesome lemon-dill salmon, made by my fabulous husband, but I don't have pictures of that. No pics of husband either, sorry ladies.

More importantly, dessert!

Strawberry tart, made with local strawberries and my mom's pastry cream recipe. I made this at the request of younger sister in law, who is visiting from sunny northern california. The cream is a little runny, but the taste is totally worth it (plus it's SO easy). This was my first time making a tart. I served it with homemade (whipping cream, cocoa powder, sugar, mix until peaky) chocolate whipped cream. As you can see above, I had a bit of trouble with the dough pulling away from the edges of the pan even though I did a blind bake and used dried beans as weights. There's definitely a learning curve for pastry dough, so I'm working on it. I'll just have to keep practicing!

Ok so recipes.
First, pastry crust:

* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut up
* 1 large egg yolk
* 2 to 3 tablespoons water
* 1 t vanilla extract

- Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles bread crumbs.

- Stir together egg yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. Add egg yolk mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a fork. Add water until dough starts to form into a sticky ball. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic. Chill at least 30 minutes.

- Once chilled, roll out dough and stretch into your tart pan. Put it in the freezer for 10/15 mins and preheat the oven to 400. (I bought a tart pan just for this dessert- Salvation Army, 1.79!)

-Prick the crust with fork tines and cover tightly with foil. Add uncooked beans or rice to the top of the foil and bake for 15 mins.

-Remove weight and foil. Brush the crust with egg white and place back into the oven for 5 mins or until golden brown. Cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, (super easy) pastry cream:

3 egg yolks
1 T cornstarch
1/3 C sugar
2.5 cups milk
1 t vanilla

-Mix yolks with cornstarch and blend well. Add to saucepan with all other ingredients and cook over medium/low heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Place in fridge to cool.

When you're about ready to serve, assemble the tart. You could use a variety of berries, or other fruit. I liked strawberry because it's in season and so simple.

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