Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fresh from the Farm

Another day, another strawberry dessert it seems. I can't help myself. There are just too many strawberries begging to be put to good use. This morning my great aunt and uncle drove up from their house in Hemet. Quite near to where they live is a strawberry farm, where folks line up early for freshly picked berries. And by fresh, I mean that they were picked this morning. And you wouldn't believe how ripe they are. So ripe, that I think if you let them sit at room temperature, they would turn into jam of their very own accord. So sweet they need not a sprinkle of sugar. So ready that when they are cut open, they are a deep garnet red all throughout. So delicious, that it is very difficult to contain myself and eat only one....but the rest must be used in a tart for our early Easter dinner with family tonight.

The tart I saw on the cover of this month's Gourmet Magazine. It is a showstopper, but completely easy to throw together. The tart shell I used was from here. It is very good and tastes remarkably like a shortbread cookie. I fell in love with it when my sister-in-law brought a frangipane tart for Thanksgiving dessert. It was the perfect nest for all the creamy goodness of the mascarpone filling and port sauced berries. I am bursting at the seams after dinner tonight...with one more day of feasting to go-I think I am up for the challenge.

Strawberry Tart
adapted from Gourmet Magazine

2 pints of strawberries, halved
1/3 C sugar
1 pound of mascarpone (2 8 oz. containers)
1/4 C powdered sugar
1 t lemon zest
2 t lemon juice
3/4 t vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3/4 C good quality port
1 pre-baked tart shell

Bake tart shell according to directions and cool completely. Place strawberries and sugar in a bowl to macerate for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together mascarpone, powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice, vanilla extract and pinch of salt until smooth and creamy. Set aside. Boil port in a small saucepan for about 10 minutes or until reduced to 1/4 C. Spread mascarpone mixture in the bottom of the tart shell. Drain strawberries (save that yummy juice for something else-strawberry lemonade maybe?) and toss with reduced port. Carefully spoon on top of mascarpone. Serve immediately.

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