Although shared restaurant meals have their place in life, I prefer to celebrate special or social occasions, when schedules, location, and other factors allow, by cooking in my home for those with whom I want to share the meal. By preparing the food myself, I mix my love with my labor, and I am able plan the menu based upon the taste preferences of my guests. A meal shared at home, around the dining room or patio table, provides a more intimate setting for people who care about each other in some way to share food, stories, and affection. This relationship between food, affection, and intimacy often drives my decision to cook for people as a way to show them my appreciation for something they have done, or for their simply being.
Recently I had the chance to offer my mom and my sister some love in the form of lunch! We’ve been blessed this spring with much time to spend with each other. I appreciate their presence in my life, and I wanted to celebrate our relationship by preparing them a meal over which we could enjoy girl talk. Both women love crab, so I chose to make crab bisque as the main course, accompanied by rosemary bread, honeydew melon-strawberry salad with honey – lavender – lemon dressing, and topped off with a blueberry – white chocolate – chocolate tart for dessert. I wanted to capture the flavor of the season. I had a cold crab soup in mind for lunch, but I opted for a ten mile run with a good friend that morning. I didn’t think ahead of time to make the soup pre-run so that it could properly chill; therefore, I rustled up a pot of hot crab bisque upon completing my run.
Neither my mother nor my sister have Celiac, but they never mind that I make all meals gluten-free. They understand the necessity of my keeping a gluten-free kitchen.
I had never made the blueberry tart before; the inspiration for the tart came to me during on my regular trips to Costco. I was in Costco the weekend before my planned meal with my mom and sister when I spotted the blueberries in the produce department. Large and plump, the blueberries were fairly calling out to be used in a dessert for my luncheon of love. I answered the siren song of those blueberries and home they went with me. As I carried the blueberries around the store with me, I realized that the berries would provide the opportunity for me to try the new Philadelphia white chocolate cream cheese. I had already tried the dark and milk chocolate Philadelphia cream cheeses, but I had yet to figure out how to use the white chocolate cream cheese. White chocolate and blueberries seem a perfect combination of flavors, and the only improvement I could think of was to add chocolate – easily done by using chocolate cookies for the crust of the tart. Naturally, Pamela’s Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies, one of my favorites among store-bought chocolate cookies, were the perfect choice for the crust. I forgot to get a picture of the cookie package before I threw it away, so I linked to the cookies on the Pamela’s Products’ website:
To serve with the tart, I made some almond whipped cream; the dessert turned out wonderfully. Unfortunately, I’m still developing my food photography skills, so when I decided to take a picture of a piece of the tart outside – to get the benefit of the full sun (don’t people always say that natural lighting is the best???) – I didn’t realize that the whipped cream might melt during my several attempts to get a nice picture. Thus, the tart is pictured in all its sad melted, whipped cream glory.
Chocolate Blue-Berry Tart
473 g (2 c) chocolate cookie crumbs (or 1 entire bag of Pamela’s Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies)
6 tbls butter, melted
67 g (1/3 c) sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix crumbs, sugar, and melted butter together. Press mixture into an 11 inch tart pan, preferably non-stick. Bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven and cool before filling with white chocolate cheese and blueberries.
2 8 0z tubs of Philadelphia Brand White Chocolate Indulgence Cream Cheese
18 oz fresh blueberries
Vanilla sugar (optional)
Over the bottom of the cooled chocolate tart crust, spread the entire content of both tubs of the white chocolate cream cheese. Pour the blueberries evenly over the cream cheese; make sure all the cheese is covered with blueberries. Lightly sprinkle vanilla sugar over the blueberries. Chill the tart several hours before chilling
Almond Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream
*2 tbls powdered sugar
2 tsp almond extract
Whip cream in chilled bowl until it begins to hold its shape. Add confectioners’ sugar and almond extract and beat until slightly stiff. Serve with the blueberry tart.
*Most sugar companies use cornstarch to cut powdered sugar; however, a few brands use wheat starch. Be sure to check the brand of powdered sugar you use, to make sure it’s gluten-free. Domino and Imperial powdered sugars are gluten-free. Great Value powdered sugar, from Wal-Mart, is thought by some Celiacs to contain wheat starch, but according to the Wal-Mart website, Great Value powdered sugar is gluten-free: