23 Jun Special of the Day~ Al Fresco Entertaining Made Easy
It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy…as George Gershwin so eloquently wrote. Warm sunny days call for soaking up the summery goodness while it lasts, and what better way to do that than to host a beautiful brunch served on the deck? This week’s Special of the Day serves up plans for al fresco entertaining made easy with three tried-and-true prep ahead favorites I find myself making and serving up to rave reviews again and again.
Having my creative friends Anne and Tim over last week gave me a reason to whip up an Asparagus, Brie and Chive Tart, Cheesy Ham and Rosemary Red Potato Strudel and Fresh Seasonal Berries with Crème Anglaise for dessert.
Sun shining down on our faces, enthusiastic sharing of creative works-in-progress and engaging conversation about a variety of interesting topics, not to mention the crisp and refreshing rosé that paired so nicely with the brunch offerings made for a memorable morning.
Assembling and baking the tart and the strudel and stirring together the Crème Anglaise the night before allowed everyone, including the hostess, the chance to relax and enjoy the party. Morning-of prep consisted of little more than setting the table on the deck, warming the tart and strudel in the oven, tossing together a simple microgreen salad, and popping open the wine when the guests arrived.
Here’s to summer celebrations and kicking back with good friends with this week’s Special of the Day~ Al Fresco Entertaining Made Easy and recipes for Asparagus, Brie and Chive Tart, Red Potato and Cheesy Ham and Rosemary Red Potato Strudel and Fresh Seasonal Berries with Crème Anglaise and White Chocolate. Happy summer!
Asparagus, Brie and Chive Tart
Recipe by Sydne George
(makes one 9-inch tart)
1 pound fresh asparagus, stalks washed and trimmed to about 4 inches
For the crust:
2 cups flour
¾ cup oil
¼ cup cold water
½ teaspoon salt
For the filling:
¾ cup milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup brie, trimmed and cut in 2 inch strips
2 teaspoons freshly snipped chives
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Blanch trimmed asparagus in a pot of boiling salted water for 6 minutes. Immediately drain into a colander filled with ice to stop the cooking.
While the asparagus is cooking, make the crust. Combine crust ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.
Form dough into a ball and roll out between two sheets of waxed paper making a circle about 11 inches in diameter. Transfer dough into 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Trim edges.
Arrange blanched asparagus in prepared crust, creating a spoked wheel pattern with asparagus tips pointing outward.
Fit brie slices in between asparagus spears.
Whisk together filling ingredients and fill tart shell, being careful not to drown the asparagus. (The asparagus won’t be visible if you cover it with filling.)
Bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes, until brie is golden brown and filling is set.
Let cool slightly. Slice and serve warm with chive blossoms, if desired.
Cheesy Ham and Rosemary Red Potato Strudel
(makes two rolls, to be sliced and served for 4 to 6 people)
2 cups baby red potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup smoked Gouda cheese, grated
½ tsp. salt
1 cup honey ham, diced
½ tsp. fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 8-ounce roll frozen phyllo dough
¼ cup melted butter
Bring salted water to a summer in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add potatoes and cook just until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain in colander and let cool slightly.
Toss cooked potatoes, cheese, salt, ham and rosemary together in medium bowl until well mixed.
Transfer to a covered refrigerator dish and chill until ready to assemble.
When ready to assemble:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Unroll 4 sheets of thawed phyllo. Brush with butter.
Top with half of the potato filling.
Carefully tuck opposite ends of phyllo in toward the center and roll into a long thin strudel roll, brushing with additional melted butter to seal.
Repeat filling and rolling to make a second streusel.
Place assembled strudel rolls on buttered baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and flaky. Remove from oven and let rest briefly. Use a sharp serrated bread knife to slice into slices. Serve warm with fresh rosemary sprigs for garnish.
Fresh Seasonal Berries with Crème Anglaise and White Chocolate
Recipe by Sydne George
1 pint fresh raspberries
1 pint fresh blueberries
1 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and cut into small pieces
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
¼ cup white chocolate grated with microplane
2 cups heavy cream
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 vanilla bean
1/3 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, split vanilla bean down the center to expose tiny vanilla seeds. Heat cream, vanilla bean and salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally just until it looks like it is going to simmer.
Whisk egg yolks and sugar together until well mixed.
Remove from heat and whisk egg yolk mixture into cream until blended.
Return to heat, stirring constantly until thickened, reducing heat slightly if necessary to prevent from simmering.
Continue cooking until mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
Strain into a clean glass bowl.
Cool to room temperature.
Cover and chill until ready to serve.
Combine berries in bowl and stir to mix.
Distribute berries among glass goblets or other dessert dishes.
Ladle Crème Anglaise over the berries.
Top with grated white chocolate and mint sprigs.
Sydne George is a food journalist specializing in recipe development, food writing and food photography. She can be reached at email@example.com . Sydne’s recipes from “Special of the day” are archived at http://sydnegeorge.com/blog/