Important meeting today — now let me see…resume? Check. Briefcase? Check. Well-rehearsed pitch? Check. Killer heels? CHECK! Killer Heels? Whenever I want to make a good impression at a meeting, interview, pitch, whatever, a pair of killer heels are firmly affixed to my feet. They make me Bond…Jane Bond, and give me license to knock em’ dead! And yes, I’ve read what they say about high heels being bad for you, blah, blah, blah. But they say the same thing about butter so I don’t trust them. A great pair of heels empowers you. Put them on and you can’t help but stand a little straighter, a little taller (ok, a LOT taller), more powerful. In a word: Confident. That they also make your legs look fabulous doesn’t hurt either. Hey, I’m just sayin’… Over the course of my career there’ve been many times when I’ve been the only girl in the room and face it — it can be damn intimidating. But step up into a pair of 4½ inch Guccis and I’m QUEEN OF THE WORLD!!! The boys can’t do that! (Well, some can but I promised not to mention them by name.) Plus it’s a hell of a lot of fun to stand next to a puffed-up Napoleon as he spews and flaps, all the while towering over him like the Statue of Liberty, staring down at the bald spot peeking out under his bad comb-over. Yes, awfully sweet…
So whenever you need a little ‘boost’ in confidence, haul out some killer heels, (boys too, and you know who you are), climb on up and KICK SOME ASS!
Naturally, with killer heels go killer recipes and a killer cocktail. The wild mushroom tart and watermelon salad are great late summer supper party. They are pretty simple, much can be done ahead, and are sure to impress your guests. Begin with Limoncello mint sparklers, end with vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of good balsamic and you’ll slay ‘em!
Wild mushroom Tart (Adapted from Gourmet)
I found this recipe years ago on epicurious.com and have been making it ever since, varying the mushrooms around what is available. The original recipe calls for you to make the pastry dough from scratch first. Once I made it and burnt the shell while blind baking (yes, I DO burn things too…likely I was distracted picking out the perfect shoes to wear.) I was under a time crunch so I ran to the market and picked up a frozen pie crust. Know what? I’ve been using one ever since!
- 1 sheet or pie tin of ready-made crust (if you are using the unroll and bake sheet, put the sheet in a 9″ tart pan with removable bottom, or pie plate.)
- 1TBSP unsalted butter
- 1 TBSP vegetable oil
- 3/4 pound mixed fresh wild mushrooms such as cremini, oyster, and chanterelle, quartered lengthwise
- 2 TBSP finely chopped shallot
- 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 whole large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
Make shell: Blind bake pie shell according to package directions. I like the roll out kind so I can put it into my 9” removable bottom tart pan. You can do same, or just make it in the tin it came in. Blind baking simply means to prick the crust with a fork all over so it doesn’t puff up, then put a piece of buttered foil, butter side down in tart or pie pan. Fill pan completely with pie weights, dry beans or dry rice –filling completely prevents the edges from shrinking. Bake according to package directions. Remove the foil with weights. If you use rice or beans, they can no longer be cooked, so I just put in a jar with a lid when cool and keep with my baking pans and use over and over again. Cool baked shell completely in pan on a rack, about 15 minutes.
While the pastry bakes, heat butter and oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then sauté mushrooms, shallot, thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are tender and any liquid given off is evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.
[Timing note: You can bake off the crust and make the mushroom thyme shallot mixture ahead of time, then pick up the recipe from there when you want to make and serve. That makes this a great recipe to do on an impromptu Friday after work supper party.]
Whisk together crème fraîche, heavy cream, whole egg, yolk, and remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper in a medium bowl until combined.
Fill and bake tart: Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Scatter mushrooms evenly in tart shell and pour custard over them. Bake tart in pan on a baking sheet until custard is just set and slightly puffed, 35 to 45 minutes.
Cool tart in pan on rack at least 20 minutes, then remove side of pan if you are using a removable bottom tart pan. Serve tart warm or at room temperature. Calories: 370/serving
Watermelon, ricotta salata, pine nuts and arugula salad (Adapted from Bon Apetit)
This recipe is based on Cat Cora’s watermelon and feta salad, and you could certainly substitute feta, walnuts and mint if you’d like to change it up. I’ve added arugula and olives to the original recipe to give it a little more substance. I often have this for dinner all by itself with pita chips (they make great croutons crumbled up.) It’s great when it’s so hot and sticky out that you can’t even bear the thought of turning on anything that gives off heat…(um, sorry fellas…)
- 3 cups baby arugula, washed and spun dry (or use the pre-washed stuff to save a bit of time)
- 24 pitted oil cured olives roughly chopped (these are the black wrinkly ones)
- 3 TBSP thinly sliced fresh basil
- 2 TBSP fresh lime juice
- 2 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
- A 4-pound seedless watermelon, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups)
- ½ pound ricotta salata (salted dry ricotta cheese), cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
Whisk first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper. Spread out arugula on chilled platter sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper and drizzle with 1 TBSP dressing. Place watermelon and ricotta salata in bowl, drizzle with remaining dressing and toss. Scatter on platter over the arugula. Sprinkle with pine nuts and chopped olives. Calories: 270/serving
Limoncello mint sparklers
These are just plain damn fine! However, be forewarned — that limoncello will sneak up on you…(those innocent little lemons…shocking!) 😉
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup chilled limoncello
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups chilled sparkling water
Combine mint and limoncello in a bowl, then gently bruise mint with a pestle or wooden spoon to release flavor. Chill, covered, 1 hour. Pour limoncello through a fine mesh sieve into a pitcher, pressing firmly on mint and then discarding it. (NOTE: this can be done ahead too and stored in the fridge until you are ready to serve.) Just before serving, stir in lemon juice, sparkling water, and enough ice to fill pitcher. Calories: 105/glass