Being wrapped in a world filled with food people, the lovers, academics and fanatics, I’ve often lost my footing. Forgotten the simple pleasures of small, honest meals for the sake of a journey towards the creation of an epic recipe. While surrounding myself with people who strive to reinvent the world of food as we know, I’ve been so entranced that I’ve stepped away from the core of who I am and the food I fell in love with.
I am not a moderist cook.
I am not a chef.
I may never create an epic recipe.
I am OK with that.
It was through a process, not of self discovery but of self remembrance, that stumbled upon a memory that I had almost lost within my catalogue of food experiences. Under the thousand dollar dinners, PR events, celebrity chefs, and world renowned restaurants was a small Italian city, and a home cooked meal.
Years ago, on what turned out to be a 16 hour layover, I was stuck in Pescara Italy. A girl about my age, just past 21, took pity on a broke and confused American in her tiny local airport and asked if she could show her town to me. It began with a home cooked meal, from her own mothers hands on a rickety folding table in her living room, the only place in the small apartment that would accommodate us all. Homemade bread, a small green salad, smashed peas and a roasted chicken.
For dessert was a lemon tart. Simple, beautiful and tangy, made by the hands of a woman who didn’t speak a word of English, but who took time to cook for me even though we would never have the ability to have a conversation, and I could never properly thank her. This is the food that I fell in love with, and I am reminding myself to stay true to that.
I’ve done my best to make the beer infused version of the tart that was made for me in Pescara, and chose a beer that is nearly as fascinating to me. Cooney Island Lager has flavors that remind me a great meal made in spring, orange, citrus, bread and apples.
If you can’t find this beer, look for a low hop beer with notes of citrus, tropical fruits and bread.
Drunken Strawberry Tart with Beer Lemon Curd
For the tart crust:
1 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
3-5 tbs ice cold water
For the curd:
1 tbs lemon zest
2 whole eggs plus six yolks
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 6 large lemons)
½ cup beer
2 tbs corn starch
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into cubes
For the Strawberries
3 cups strawberries
½ cup beer
1/2 cup powdered sugar
For the Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbs beer
1/2 cup powdered sugar
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the cubes of butter and process until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Your dough should resemble course meal. Start with 3 tbs of water, pulse until combined. If the crust doesn’t hold together add more water, a bit at a time, until it does. Dump the dough into a 4 inch deep, 9 inch wide tart pan with a remove-able bottom (you can also use a pie pan). Starting with the sides, form the crust inside the pan, trying your best to make it all as even as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375.
Place a sheet of parchment paper inside your tart and fill with pie weights. If you don’t have any, dried beans work great.
Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, beer, sugar, corn starch, whole eggs and yolks to a bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the lemon mixture to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter. Whisk until thickened, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Add the curd to the crust and chill until set, about 4 hours.
Just prior to serving add the berries to a shallow bowl of pie pan and cover with 1/2 cup beer. Allow to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Drain and return to bowl with the sugar, stir to combine.
Add all of the whipped cream ingredients to a stand mixer and mix on high until soft peaks form, about 4 minutes.
Top tart with berries and whipped cream just prior to serving.