Monday, April 25, 2011

Celebrations

Happy Monday everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!  Mine was filled with celebrations, lots of food, and friends.  Yesterday while many of you were celebrating Easter we were celebrating my dad, not because I think he is Jesus but because it was his birthday ; )  For those of you who are lucky enough to know my dad you understand that he is worthy of serious celebrating, personal biases aside, the man is amazing!


The festivities began Saturday night with a dinner at Local Mission Eatery, a perfectly cozy local-food loving restaurant just down the street from us.  The design of the restaurant spans a mix of genres creating a welcoming feel to compliment the simple yet delicious menu.  A touch of modern with the open stainless steel kitchen, elegant dimly lit chandeliers, large homey built-in wood bookshelves,  and food served in classic mason jars and vintage mismatched china dishes.  One of the things that I really enjoyed about their menu is that each of the dishes comes in two sizes which allows for optimal sharing options.  We chose to get smaller portions of each item and try the entire menu!  My personal favorites were the pickles (sunchokes, asparagus, and beets), the onion cazuela, and the Pozzi Farm lamb.  The restaurant is also shared by Knead Patisserie, we ended the evening with one of their lovely brown butter almond cakes with burnt meringue and citrusy orange caramel.

I didn't realize it at that time but that the restaurant's filled book shelves are actually part of their cookbook library.  With a subscription you are granted access to hundreds of obscure and well known cookbooks to help inspire your own culinary quests, what a great idea!  Their website also offers up information about the farms they source from, Sunday night labs, and a link to their blog.  My dad seemed to really enjoy the dinner and we all had a wonderful evening together. 

On Sunday we had about 20 some people over for a birthday brunch; what started off as a gloomy gray day turned into a sunny mimosa filled celebration.  We went with a buffet style spread, allowing people to graze throughout the afternoon and graze we did!

Danielle made 2 of her signature veggie packed baked egg dishes, one with chicken sausage one without.

Scalloped potatoes, I have a new go-to recipe from Emeril that boils the potato slices in a cream base before baking.  I think this boiling step makes a huge improvement in the dish and cuts back on the baking time, I like to reduce the amount of cream and cheese used to make it a bit healthier.

A gigantic bowl of colorful fruit salad.

A hummus and veggie platter including the Hummus Guy's newest edition of smoked olive oil hummus, it is as awesome as it sounds.

And a special Meyer lemon strawberry tart (recipe below), a perfect Spring dessert that showcases the seasons vibrant colorful offerings.

Besides all of this wonderful food we had a mimosa bar with mango, orange, and pomegranate juice and the ultimate Bloody Mary bar loaded with pickled veggies, blue cheese stuffed olives, and celery all being served up by the ultimate Bloody Mary bartender- Danielle!

I came about the strawberry tart after reading this  Meyer Lemon Cream Strawberry Tart recipe in the SF Chronicle and then a couple of days later reading a Strawberry Pistachio Tart recipe in my Everyday Food magazine.  The photo of the Strawberry Pistachio Tart was gorgeous with the crushed pistachio rim but the Meyer Lemon cream sounded so light and Spring-y that I decided to combine these elements into one tart.
 
Ingredients:
1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 lb strawberries, sliced
For the lemon cream:
4 eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Meyer lemon juice or other fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
pinch of salt
4 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp sugar


*Ah ha moment: I just now realized I must have skimmed these recipes too quickly, I used whole wheat philo dough for my tart base instead of the puff pastry which would explain why it was a few too many layers and a bit too flaky.


Directions:
For the cream: in a double boiler over simmering water whisk the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt.  Constantly stirring until the mixture thickens, about 10-15 minutes.  Remove the mixture from the heat and add in the pieces of butter, mix until fully incorporated.  Cover and place in the refrigerator, this can be made up to 2 days prior to assembling the tart.


For the base: preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Roll out your puff pastry on a floured surface and then transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, if the edges hang over trim them.  To prevent the puff pastry from expanding while baking, prick all over with a fork and then place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  Remove from the refrigerator and stack with a second sheet of parchment paper and a baking sheet, bake for about 25 minutes or until golden.  Turn the heat down to 325 and bake for another 15 minutes, remove and let cool.  

While this is baking, put your pistachios and sugar into a food processor and pulse until chopped into small pieces.  Whip the heavy cream and  1 tsp sugar until you have soft peaks.  Fold half of the cream into the lemon mixture and save the other half to serve with the tart.




Everyone loved the tart and it was perfect for the occasion, very light and refreshing.  Of course now that I realize my mistake I am positive that it will be even better with the puff pastry versus the philo dough, I guess this means I will have to make it again : )

We turn not older with years but newer every day.
-Emily Dickinson

Happy birthday Dad, I love you!





2 comments:

  1. Very sweet post, Joya... and I have to agree (also without personal bias) that your Dad is an amazing man! It was fun to do the Sunday egg dish for a larger crowd; everyone really seemed to enjoy it. Your dessert was beautiful and fresh - perfect for the beautiful Spring day we had. And I have to give a shout out to my new favorite bloody mary site: http://www.mybigfatbloodymary.com/Greg-s-Favorite.html !!

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  2. Oh, that strawberry lemon tart looks amazing! Such a great combo of flavors.

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