the chief and the pastry puke

mikey and i had a harmonious afternoon in the kitchen after suffering through six hours of the Bar Mitzvah from Hell (Part 2). the menu, i think, was perfect--mikey did his chicken tikka, some flanksteak with pimenton, a bit of tuna for mona, and a large pile of beets in honor of mom. mom seemed a bit nonplussed to have us take over the kitchen but got over it quickly and spent the afternoon in more comfort on the back deck.

we had an even division of labor. mikey did all the savory bits, and i tackled my agonized-over dessert menu. i wanted to incorporate something out of passion for desserts, specifically the red berry-white chocolate trifle. but i didn’t think my family were the trifle type. fortunately, inspiration arrived in the form of a new book, dedicated entirely to pies and tarts. i really thought i had hit paydirt when i saw a recipe for a shortbread pie crust.

the reason for this perception of salvation is simple: alain ducasse. the spring jules verne menu incorporated a frais du bose shortbread with a strawberry coulis and a rose petal ice cream. only the shortbread tasted like a light lemon sponge-y perfection. when i compared the photograph of the shortbread pie crust with the memory of the parisian shortbread crust, i thought i had found a way to recreate the wonder at home.

the dough was ludicrously simple to make and had a lovely smooth texture as i balled it for chilling--but it was a bear to roll out. i think there is so much butter in the crust, all you have to do is touch it to have the butter start melting. i ended up flattening a disc of it by hand into a sort of oversized cookie and using that as the crust. unfortunately, it tasted like a shortbread cookie instead of a magical cake.

as for the topping, i turned back to passion for desserts and used the red berry-white chocolate mousse as my tart. i’m embarassed to admit that it took me two tries to get the mousse to mousse. i’m not even sure what i did wrong the first time, only that i wasted over an hour trying to salvage it when it only took me 20 minutes to get it right on the second try. it was delightful when i got it right, though. light and airy, a hint of grand marnier, not too much white chocolate and a nice mousse texture. it was heaven with the fresh berries and the strawberry sauce, too.

i think the family were pleased with our efforts. nothing too heavy and a pleasant way to recover from the Bar Mitzvah from Hell (Part 2). what more can you ask for on a gorgeous saturday afternoon in june?

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