Thursday, July 15, 2010

Just Desserts

On Saturday I'm having friends over for a BBQ. The main course is going to be my grilled tuna Nicoise salad platter. It's always a big hit.

To make it I grill fresh tuna steaks on the grill making sure not to overcook them (I like them rare in the center), then arrange them, along with arugula, steamed green beans, hard-boiled eggs, cured olives, tomato and red onion into a huge composed salad. I serve my lemon vinaigrette on the side.

It's a perfect main course for company because you can essentially get everything ready ahead of time. So, instead of running around frantically and miss out on the fun, you can sit and relax drinking a little wine with your friends.

The appetizers will be crudities, grapes and a raw goat's milk cheese with whole grain crackers.

Since I'm entertaining I'm serving dessert. Unlike most people, I don't think you should forswear dessert forever to lose weight and maintain it, although I think you have to be smart about it. Dessert is for special occasions, and if you're going for it, make sure it's worth the extra calories. Twinkies, Ho-Hos and 100 calorie packs of chocolate chip cookies are definitely out.

If I'm going to indulge in dessert, I certainly don't want something too calorie-laden or full of bad fats etc. And, I want it to be the most delicious thing I can eat bite for bite.
A few years ago, I learned that any fruit that you normally bake into a pie, can also be baked into a tart. This gets rid of the top crust which saves a bunch of calories. Furthermore, since the tart is thinner, you also get fewer calories from the filling.
Since the dessert is primarily fruit based it has some nutritional value (and with all the local fruit now available why wouldn't I make dessert fruit based?). Any sugar I use (and I try to use it less of it then usual) is raw, organic sugar which is surprisingly tasty. It has a complexity of flavor that white sugar doesn't have which makes up for using less of it.

Furthermore, since I make my own crust, I try to make that as healthy as possible as well. A few years ago I discovered whole wheat pastry flour. I swear to God, other than the fact that the crust comes out a little darker than usual, it's still as tender and flaky as anything made with that bleached, white stuff. The crust actually also has a little bit more flavor then usual, and people always seem to comment on how good my crust is. Since you have to use some kind of shortening, I stick to organic butter. The good news is, as I pointed out above, is that there's only one crust.

So, last night I made a strawberry-rhubarb tart for my company on Saturday. The strawberries, which came from the farmer's market, had the kind of intense flavor that you never get from supermarket strawberries. The rhubarb came from my garden.

It came out so pretty, I snapped a picture for you. What do you think?


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  2. Looks yummy.

    One of my favorite simple summertime desserts in the last couple of years is to cube fruit like pineapple, cantaloupe & put strawberries together on a skewer. Grill or broil them, 1 to 2 minutes on each side then spritz on that spray salad dressing (Kraft I think) that is 1 cal. per spritz-- raspberry balsamic. The fruit sugars carmelize and the acid vinegar make a wonderful combintion. Just throw it out with some pound cake.