Friday, September 5, 2008

Holding on to summer

With highs in the 90's around here, it seems that summer is hangin' in there. With "hazy hot & humid, highs in the mid 90's" I feel that we have returned to July's weather, so I will do a post that I planned to do back in July, but was too embroiled (with emphasis on the BROIL) with the kitchen project to come up to the computer.

This July, as happens every July, The Girl had a birthday. And every birthday it seems to be the hottest week of the year. I do not have central air, so the kitchen is usually hot & soupy before I begin cooking, but I usually make sure to do a nice birthday dinner and birthday cake for her (though it is often a shared celebration as HP's birthday is 3 days later). I have been known to make cakes in the middle of the night, hoping to avoid heat exhaustion.

This year, when The Girl had her birthday, it was not just any birthday. She turned "Sweet Sixteen." She had no interest in a big bash or a crazy party--"I don't want to have to entertain people on my birthday. I just want to enjoy myself." So 2 days after returning from the Poconos, 2 weeks after I had pulled 3/4 of the things in my kitchen in preparation for painting, and at the beginning of the hottest week of the year, I agreed to throw a casual dinner party for her and a few of her friends (and her brother, and her mom, and her mom's boyfriend).

The Girl & friends sat at the "Teen Table"

I think she liked this, we gave her a gift certificate for a Broadway show of her choice.
(She went to see Chicago with her grandmother. The both loved it.)

Avoiding the kitchen, I did the old standby, pizza on the grill.
(Pictured are Mozzarella, Basil & Tomato; Caramelized Onion, Roasted Red Pepper, Shrimp & Goat Cheese; BBQ Chicken with Cheddar & Red Onions)

And I avoided the oven in the middle of the night by making a tart.

I searched the internet, but didn't find anything that was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted refreshing, not too heavy, not to sweet and didn't require turning my kitchen into a sauna. My needs were pretty simple don't ya think? Alas, the internet wasn't helping, so I created my own recipe. I call it

"I Hope-It-Turns-Out Lemon Cream Tart with Blueberries"
The Stuff:
  • 2 cup graham cracker crumbs (3 for big springform)
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon Curd
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 8 oz marscapone cheese, softened
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh lemon zest
  • blueberry sauce (optional)
  • whipped cream (if that's the kind of girl you are...)

Preheat oven to 350°F with a baking sheet on middle rack. (yeah, I know it is supposed to be no oven. If you are that adamant go out & buy a crappy pre-made graham cracker crust from those creepy elves)

Stir together graham cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture with your fingers and back of a spoon evenly and firmly onto bottom and up side of tart pan.

Put tart pan on preheated baking sheet and bake crusts until slightly darker, about 10 minutes, then cool 10 minutes on a rack. (see, it was only 10 minutes. I could live with that!)

While crust cools, whisk together brown sugar, sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat cream cheese, marscapone, whipping cream and lemon curd & juice in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Next fold in sour cream mixture and zest, until just combined well (you want this to be uniformly blended, but not beaten to death.)
Is your crust cool? If not, take a break, clean your mess, have some lemonade, whatever.
When crust has cooled (as much as it can in a
100° ovenkitchen) smooth the filling into the crust, then top with as many blueberries as you like. (I only used a few here, I didn't know if her friends would like blueberries & lemon and I needed room for the candles)
Chill until firm (at least 8 hours in this heat, can be made the day before!). If you are so inclined it tastes great when topped with this blueberry sauce, but that does require some stove-top use, unless you have some left over. You can also top it with a little whipped cream if ya feel like it.

And, did it turn out?
It was a sweetheart of a tart!

The candles were blown out, the light faded away and soon another birthday was over. But the tart will live on!

2 garnishes:

noble pig September 5, 2008 at 4:10 PM  

Sounds like a party to me! Awesome.

Sarah Louise September 6, 2008 at 10:52 PM  

what a smart Girl she is. It is a distinction, celebrating vs. entertaining on one's bday.

Lovely pic of HP--is that at the Lake?



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