Lush Life

To be a lush chef, does not mean to drink in excess - this can result in scary fires and bad dishes. A lush chef is one who enjoys gourmet cooking/baking, often with fresh ingredients and the smart use of one's home bar. If there happens to be half a bottle of beer, a glass of wine, or a sip of brandy left over...well, one cannot be wasteful. I give you permission to imbibe.

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The Lush Chef
Twitter: @thelushchef Provenance: Santa Monica Dish: Coq au Vin Spirit: Whiskey Wine: Malbec Beer: Hefeweizen Farmer's Market: Santa Monica on Main Street
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Aug 9, 2011

Strawberry Campari Tart

Libations used: 3 Tbs Campari
Libations left over: If you really need a drink while you're prepping, make yourself a Negroni (a Lush Chef favorite)
There's something about a birthday brunch that calls for a tart instead of a cake.  It's thinner and guests are more inclined to add a slice of tart on their plate alongside their eggs and croissants, rather than a giant wedge of cake.  Plus, tarts are way faster to prepare on a Sunday morning when you're recovering from a lush night before...

The birthday girl was going to have a Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar at the brunch (more on that next week), and this Strawberry Campari Tart from Serious Eats seemed like the perfect accompaniment.
I pair Campari all the time with citrus fruits, but I had never tried it with strawberries before — winner!  Those who have trouble with Campari's bitter taste, you won't even notice it in this tart.  The sugar, strawberries and mascarpone offset a lot of that bitterness, and instead you get a nice, light citrusy flavor.  The crust is a mixture of toasted oats, buckwheat flour and poppy seeds, which gives it a nice crunchy and crumbly texture.  Needless to say, the whole tart was completely devoured by the end of brunch...

Strawberry Campari Tart - serves 10-12
Crust Ingredients:
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs poppy seeds
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
Filling Ingredients:
  • 1 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temp
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs Campari
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lbs (about 4 1/2 cups) strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs Campari
For the crust:
- Preheat oven to 350.  Toast oats on a baking sheet for 5 minutes, or until they're lightly golden.  Leave oven on.  I actually bought toasted oats, so I skipped this step (uh, but do turn the oven on).
- Add oats, both flours, sugar, poppy seeds and salt to a food processor.  Pulse until oats are mostly chopped.
- Sprinkle the butter cubes on top of the mixture, and pulse until the mixture comes together (it should look like big, falling-apart clumps).
- Press mixture into an ungreased 11-inch tart pan.  Make sure you get mixture nicely pressed up along the sides, and use the bottom of a measuring cup to help you even out the bottom.
- Bake crust for 25-30 minutes, or until it's dry and firm.  Set aside to cool.

For the filling:
- Beat the mascarpone cheese, sugar, Campari and vanilla in a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.
- Put the mascarpone mixture in another bowl and clean out mixer.
- Attach the whisk and whip the heavy cream for about 2 minutes, or until stiff peaks form.
- Gently fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture and combine.  Fold in remaining whipped cream, 1/3 at a time.
- Spread into the cooled tart shell.

For the topping:
- Toss the strawberries with sugar and Campari in a medium bowl.  Let it sit for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved.
- Pile evenly onto the tart and serve.  If you're not going to serve it right away, then keep the strawberries refrigerated separately.