Last October, entrepreneur Judith Mackin created and organized a fund-raising event for the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation called OH! CHAIR-ITY! She asked if I was willing to cook dinner for six guests at her home, as one of the auction items. It took me a millisecond to answer “YES”. I was delighted to support the foundation, but even more jazzed over the opportunity to cook in her spectacular kitchen. As an added bonus, I was able to test some recipes that I’ve been working on for the new Italian by Night location.
When I arrived on site, the scene was set complete with menu, place cards, stunning table decor and a glorious kitchen flooded with natural light. Whenever I do an elaborate Italian catering, a lot of the prep work is done in my kitchen where I have all of the gear for pasta making and whatever else is on the menu. It also saves me frantic prepping the day of the event.
I put together a six course formal Italian dinner with regional dishes from all over Italy. Creating a menu for a group is challenging. I don’t know each person’s specific palates so it’s really a stab in the dark as to what I choose to prepare. I try to be a little more conservative with the main course and dessert then more daring with the antipasti, ‘primi’ or first course and ‘contorni’ or vegetable dishes. Typically, I wouldn’t serve bread if I’m serving pasta, but we Maritimers love our bread…
Judith and her husband, Robert Moore graciously acted as hosts, servers and clean up crew for the evening. I intended on taking more photographs of the food and people, but the details of each plate kept me on my toes. I had to forego picture-taking to ensure that the food arrived hot to our guests. Suffice to say, Judith and Robert were marvelous. They greeted each guest as they arrived with a generous glass of bubbles, efficiently whisked plate after plate to and from the table, filled and re-filled wine glasses, dimmed lights, selected music; essentially never missed a beat.
I wasn’t satisfied with the chocolate tart I served Friday night. Everone said that they enjoyed it, but I think that they were being kind. I found it a lttle flat tasting and the wrong texture. After a big meal, I love to finish up with something luxuriously chocolate; something ooey gooey. This happened Sunday.
OOEY GOOEY CHOCOLATE TART
For the crust:
- 2 1⁄2 cups Oreo cookie crumbs
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
For the filling:
- 10 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 3 extra-large egg yolks
For the crust:
- Mix cookie crumbs and butter together in a medium bowl until well combined.
- Pour crumb mixture into a 10″ pie plate.
- Using your finger tips, press mixture out in an even layer, on bottom and up the sides of the pie plate to form an even crust.
For the filling:
- Melt chocolate in a heat proof bowl set over a medium pot of simmering water over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes.
- Remove bowl from heat and set aside.
- Heat cream in a pot over medium heat until bubbles appear around outside edge of cream, remove pan from heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks in a medium mixing bowl until smooth.
- Gradually whisk about 1⁄4 cup of the hot cream into yolks, then stir egg–cream mixture back into pot of hot cream.
- Gradually add egg–cream mixture to bowl of melted chocolate, stirring until well combined and smooth.
- Pour filling into prepared crust and set aside to cool, about 30 minutes, then refrigerate until chocolate is completely set, about 3 hours.
- Serve with whipped cream.