A couple of weeks ago, on May 28th, we celebrated our two-year wedding anniversary! It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since our beautiful outdoor celebration at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. You know, this one:
To celebrate such a special occasion, we decided that instead of spending a couple hundred dollars at a fancy restaurant, we would make our own upscale dinner at home. This way, we would be spending less money and getting MORE for what we paid for. As you’ll see below, we were able to buy two bottles of wine and all of the ingredients for all of our dishes for less than it would have cost to have a three-course meal and two glasses of wine at Marcello’s. While we do LOVE to get dressed up and have dinner at a nice restaurant once in a while, there’s also something really special about cooking a meal together and dancing to Miles Davis in bare feet between courses
To make things a little nicer, we brought out the stemware, fiestaware, and a few saved wedding decorations to set the tone for this special occasion. Since we had artificial flowers at our wedding, we were able to use my bouquet as the centerpiece for our table, along with the luminaria/sunflower centerpieces we made for our wedding reception—the LED candles still worked too! It was a really beautiful, simple way to decorate our table and bring a little memory from our wedding into our celebration!
And of course no celebration or fancy dinner is complete without music, so we created a couple of playlists to listen to throughout the evening. With appetizers, we listened to a classic romance playlist I created complete with Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and Edith Piaf. With the main course, we listened to the “I Loved You First” playlist Peter discovered on 8tracks, which included a collection of mellow songs by different indie and folk artists.
It was the perfect scene for a perfect dinner.
For Starters: Antipasto
When deciding what to have as an appetizer, we were originally thinking of making a risotto or a wild rice salad, but the more we thought about it, the more we wanted to have something that we could enjoy at the table, as well as in the kitchen while cooking the main course. With this in mind, we decided to customize our own antipasto.
Since this was a special occasion, we decided to splurge and bought all of our ingredients (for all of our courses) at Whole Foods. We kept things simple and created an antipasto that looked a little something like this:
Artichoke hearts with piquillo peppers
Stuffed green olives
Roasted red peppers
Italian bread loaf
Wine: D.H. Lescombes 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon
Main Course: Rustic Mushroom Tart
The next item on the evening’s menu was an amazing mushroom concoction we discovered while browsing online for “gourmet vegetarian recipes.” It was pretty significant that we chose this dish because, this time last year, Peter didn’t have the slightest interest in eating anything with mushrooms in, on, or around it (it was a texture thing) and I wasn’t the biggest fan either.
After a while though, we slowly started trying out our own recipes with mushrooms so that we could experiment and find the right way to cook mushrooms and take away that rubbery texture so we could both enjoy eating them. We quickly discovered that we enjoyed mushrooms quite a bit as long as they are sliced or chopped thin and cooked in some type of sauce. I think the biggest turning point in our relationship with mushrooms was when we discovered that there is a whole other world outside of the basic bella and white mushrooms. There was one occasion when we were eating dinner at my parents’ house and my dad made a really nice salad with a side option of raw shiitake mushrooms. Peter took the initiative to try some of these on his salad and was really surprised at how GOOD they were! This was the point at which our whole approach to mushrooms changed and we started seeking out more and more opportunities to make recipes with mushrooms—one of which is the following Rustic Mushroom Tart recipe.
It’s hard to go wrong with any recipe when the main ingredients are phyllo and cheese, but it gets even better when combined with other ingredients such as mushrooms, leek, and rosemary. We decided to have an adventure with these ingredients and bought four different types of mushrooms for the tart: alba clamshell, brown clamshell, trumpet royale, and velvet pioppini (you won’t find any boring bella mushrooms here).
The combination of these mushrooms with the rich cheeses, the fragrant rosemary and leek, and the flaky phyllo was so incredibly earthy, rustic, comforting, and delicious that it was hard to stop eating even when we were at the point of bursting.
Serve this tart with a 2011 Luca Malbec and you’re all set.
Rustic Mushroom Tart
Recipe from Eating Well
Ready in: 1 hour
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup soft goat cheese (2 ounces)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon butter
4 cups mixed wild mushrooms, coarsely chopped (we used Gourmet Mushrooms “Chef’s Sampler” organic mushrooms)
1 large leek, white part only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and thoroughly washed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup white wine
10 sheets (14×18-inch) or 20 sheets (9×14-inch) thawed phyllo dough*
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
*Thaw frozen phyllo (in its package) at room temperature for 2 hours or in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before preparing the recipe
- Combine ricotta, goat cheese, rosemary, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
- Heat butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, leek, and salt and cook, stirring, until the leek starts to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, about 3 minutes. Pour in wine and simmer until the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet (approximately 12 by 17 inches) with parchment paper. Lay one large sheet of phyllo on the prepared pan. (If using the smaller size, slightly overlap two sheets to form a rectangle.) Keep the remaining phyllo covered with plastic wrap or wax paper and a damp kitchen towel.
- Lightly coat the phyllo with oil using a pastry brush. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon breadcrumbs. Repeat this step, layering the remaining phyllo on top. Carefully roll about 3/4 inch of each side toward the center to form the outer rim of the tart.
- Spread the reserved cheese mixture evenly over the phyllo. Top with the reserved mushroom mixture.
- Bake the tart until the crust is brown and crispy, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. To serve, lift the parchment paper and slide the tart onto a cutting board or large platter. Serve warm.
Dessert: Cookies and Cappuccino
We wanted to end the evening with something simple for dessert, so we originally thought we would just pick up a couple of pieces of cake or pie from the Whole Foods bakery. On the way there though, we passed by their cookie display case…and decided to change our plans. Cookies and coffee is just about as simple as you can get and it’s even better when someone else has already done the baking.
We picked out two bags of cookies including almond biscotti, anginetti lemon cookies, and linzer cookies, among several others. Paired with a couple of cappuccinos made by Peter, it was the cherry on top of an amazing meal and a perfect evening.
Happy anniversary, my love—here’s to many more home-cooked celebrations to come!