The first thing Louisa and I did when we got home from the Cleveland airport? Pore over some cookbooks, of course! Each year when I visit, we cook up a storm, and this week has been no exception. We set to work planning the week's meals and treats, and made a preliminary grocery list to get us started.
Up first, the cover recipe from Gourmet's April issue - a strawberry mascarpone tart with a port glaze. It was a raging success - we managed to find some just-ripe strawberries, despite its being a bit late in the season, and the grocery store had scads of mascarpone on offer. (Not always a done deal out here in northern Ohio.)
The tart is remarkably easy to make. You make the pastry in a food processor and press it into the tart pan - no rolling out required. The crust itself is flavored with lemon and vanilla, which takes it beyond the usual pâte sucrée. Chilled in the freezer for a few minutes, it bakes up golden and flaky. Just before serving, you mix the mascarpone with a little confectioners' sugar, lemon, vanilla and salt, make a glaze with some port (and the reserved juice of your macerated berries), and put the whole thing together.
It's a great dessert for warm weather - the only baking required can be done a day in advance, so you won't turn your kitchen (or entire apartment, in my case) into a hellishly hot den for your guests. It's easy, but it also makes a visual impact - and it tastes pretty damn good, too.
And, in the spirit of leftovers: we had a little extra filling left, and we spread it on our scones the next morning. We think we might make the filling by itself just for this purpose from now on.