This week is incredible.
My garden — if I can call it that already — is continually amazing me! I'm still fascinated that it is *this* easy! I now have sprouts of arugula, beets, basil, spinach, onions, and carrots! I'm still waiting for, and hopefully will soon see, sprouts of rosemary, sweet peppers, zucchini, and peas. [Edit: The zucchini is up!!] I can't wait! I'm now thinking I'll make some raised beds along the side of the house to make room for these babies when the weather is nice enough! For now, the greenhouse is working like a miracle. Not only do my plants love it, but I love going in there too! It smells dusty and earthen, which I love, and is a wonderful way to warm up when it's cold outside.
Also, I made bagels and am super excited about it. Recipe to come soon!
In other news, I did something this week 100% contrary to my personality: I did a bike race! I have never actually raced anything. I was a team-sports person growing up, with the exception of track (in which I was a jumper, so racing wasn't really my thing), and have never been really competitive. My attitude is generally: "If you're going to beat me, I'll just give up now because I don't care to exert myself." Charming, I know. For running, I've done a marathon, a handful of 5k's and other short runs — none of which I trained for or considered to be a "race" because I know I have little to no chance of EVER winning a running race.
Cycling, though, is a new sport to me. I got a road bike three years ago, and haven't ridden it excessively, so when I found myself planning to do a race yesterday I was shocked! What was I thinking?! I don't care about racing — I don't need to prove myself to enjoy a sport! I'll admit, the race was fun. If nothing else, it taught me a lot about limits — which I definitely pushed on Tuesday. I don't think I've ever worked that hard, physically, in my entire life.
While I have a running race to do on Sunday, as part of a team, I think I'll then switch my focus mostly to cycling for the summer — I want to get upgraded to the next level of racing! Perhaps this is why I'm interested in it: the quest to accumulate points and get upgraded sounds like a really fun game, and tangible accomplishment! According to my calculations, I have 3 out of 20 points needed to upgrade! A few more W's (yes, I said "more" — one already under the belt!) in my category and I'll be there in no time... hopefully.
Onto the juicy stuff: this tart. This tart was ridiculously easy, and insanely delicious. I used my usual tart crust from Smitten Kitchen — foolproof and so delicious. You can make it ahead of time, then have it ready to go when you're ready to actually make the tart.
Let's talk about mascarpone. First off, I've been pronouncing it "marscapone" forever, turns out this is wrong. MasCARpone. Not MARscapone. Whoops. Secondly, have you ever tried mascarpone? I hadn't (knowingly), and was thus interested when I saw it at Costco. I bought some, thinking I'd figure out what to make with it, and then let it sit in my fridge for a few weeks before actually acting on it. In my quest to find something delicious, I kept coming across descriptions of mascarpone as being "like cream cheese, only smoother." I felt this was a ridiculous statement: how can you be smoother than cream cheese?
The verdict: Way smoother than cream cheese. It has the most ridiculous texture ever: SO SMOOTH, and soft!
Most recipes I found for mascarpone tarts called for whipping cream and powdered sugar to be mixed in — I opted to kick it up with a bit of bourbon, and keep it as thick as possible by omitting any whipping cream. I'm sure it would be delicious either way, but I wanted a thick cream!
I slathered the cream into the prepared (and cooled) shell, the arranged my sliced strawberries, and then made the bourbon caramel sauce to pour over it. DELICIOUS! If you don't want the bourbon flavor, just substitute heavy cream!
This tart was pretty darn delicious. I think we each had two slices for dessert, and then I finished the rest for lunch the next day. Nutritious? Err... kind of.
Strawberry Bourbon Tart with Bourbon Caramel Sauce
1 cooked tart shell
1 lb mascarpone
1 ½ lbs strawberries
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
¼ cup bourbon (or whiskey)*
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water
⅓ cup bourbon
¼ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
*If you decide not to use bourbon/whiskey, replace this liquid with heavy cream.
Prepare your tart shell, and allow time for it to cool.
Slice strawberries into ¼" thick pieces.
In a bowl, gently mix the mascarpone together with the bourbon and powdered sugar. Stir until smooth, but do not be overly vigorous.
Spread the mascarpone mixture into the tart shell and smooth the top. Arrange strawberries to your liking.
In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Over medium-low heat, whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and let the mixture cook, without stirring, until it is golden-brown. Remove from the heat and gradually add, while stirring, the bourbon, cream, and salt. Return to heat and whisk until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool slightly, then pour over the tart before serving. Alternatively, serve the tart and let each person pour their own sauce.