1. Feed 60 people, mostly females, three meals plus one evening treat each day for a week.
2. Without causing distress, stretch the girls’ palates a little.
3. Pamper them with pretty, girly menus.
4. Keep costs reasonable.
|Here, Mrs. Harris gives her husband a lesson in the art of arranging fruit so as to make it pretty. “Make it pretty” became the kitchen mantra.|
|The tomato basil tarts were a big hit! Here they are before going into the oven.|
And here they are ready for service. photo credit: Tori Luther
There is no photo for Real, but there is a story. Truly, I was nervous about doing a good job. I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the stamina, that the girls would long for Kraft mac and cheese and chicken nuggets instead of the menus I’d planned, and that in the end it would be too expensive. I was afraid everyone would be sorry I was in charge. Instead, it was compliments all around all week, capped by that big jar of thank you notes, most listing specific favorite dishes of the week. The Husband read them aloud to me one by one as I drove us toward home, and I quietly sobbed over them. When he came to the next-to-last note, we both burst out laughing because it went something like this: “Thank you for all the delicious food, Mrs. Biesecker. One thing was my most, most favorite, and could I please, please, please have the recipe. I loved your spaghetti sauce more than anything else. Please tell me how to make it!”
Now there is a swelled-head-preventer if ever there was one. If you are reading this, darling, here is how you make it:
1. Brown some ground beef.
2. Open a jar of Ragu Classic sauce, pour it over the meat, stir, and heat.
We laughed off and on for several miles over that one.
- Make the goo: Process the basil leaves and garlic in the food processor (make sure leaves are dry) until very finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the workbowl a time or two. Or, put leaves in a Pyrex measuring cup and use kitchen shears to “chop” them inside the cup + mince the garlic. Add mozz, mayo, parmesan, and pepper to the processor and buzz to blend. Or, just mix all the basil, garlic, and above ingredients together. Makes about 1 c. goo. Can be made a few hours ahead and chilled. Press plastic wrap directly on surface of goo.
- Prep the tomatoes: cut each tomato into 6 slices. Let drain between layers of paper towels for 30 minutes to remove as much moisture as is reasonable.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees; rack centered. Thaw the puff pastry for 20-30 min. at room temp. Lightly sprinkle work surface with flour. Unfold pastry, sprinkle top with flour, and roll out so that one sheet will fit snugly but flat onto a half sheet pan. Use a pizza wheel to trim edges to a neat rectangle. Cut rectangle into 12 even rectangles. Place on parchment or silpat-lined half sheet pan (two big pastry rectangles onto one full sheet pan for large crowd tarts). Edges can basically touch to make topping them easier.
- Spread some goo in the center of each tart, leaving a small border plain. Reserve about ¼ of the goo. Arrange 3 tomato slices in each tart. Top each with another dab of goo.
- Bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Don’t serve it screamin’ hot; wait until it is warm. These are great served with corn on the cob and some kind of salad.
Have you captured some contentment this week? Have you ever been a camper, a counselor, a camp cook? Share a memory!