Food: A gathering for a lost friend brings laughter

Kate Lawson

The neighbors gathered a few weeks ago to honor one of our favorite people, who, while she lived across the pond, we all considered her to be one of us. Ivy Hitchen was lovely, funny and the life of the party — and wherever she was, believe me, there was a party. When she came to visit her daughter and son-in-law, the neighborhood rejoiced, as she always brought her infectious laugh and enthusiasm. We are all so grateful that they shared this wonderful woman with all of us.

Every time I’m with the folks that live near me, everyone in a distinctly unique house with distinctly unique personalities (and distinctly unique dogs), I am so grateful to call my neighborhood home. In her way, Ivy seemed to bring us all together and we will all miss her.

So we ate and drank and shared Ivy stories for a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. We are all so very sad that we won’t get to hear her laugh again, but when we gathered to celebrate her, we all shared stories about her and laughed — as she would have wanted us to.

My contribution to the table filled with wonderful treats was a blue cheese walnut tart. It’s a recipe I’ve had for years and only make it for very special occasions. This was indeed the most special.

Blue Cheese

Walnut Tart

The recipe is adapted from “The Best of Gourmet, Volume IV,” an annual collection from “Gourmet” magazine.

6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

4 ounces cold cream cheese, cut into bits

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely ground

11/4 cups half-and-half

6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

3 eggs

In a food processor, blend the butter, cream cheese, flour and the salt, until it just begins to form a ball. Form in a flattened round, dust with flour and chill for 1 hour. On a floured surface, roll out 1/8 inch thick and fit into a 9-inch tart pan. Prick the shell. Sprinkle with walnuts; press them in gently. Chill for 30 minutes.

Line the shell with foil, fill with rice and bake in the lower third of a 425-degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove the rice and foil and bake another 5 minutes. Cool on a rack, if desired, wrap in foil and freeze.

Combine the half-and-half and cheese in a saucepan and cook until the cheese is just melted. Let cool. Lightly beat the eggs and whisk in the cheese mixture. Pour into the baked shell.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving. Makes 14 servings.

Per serving: 212 calories; 17 g fat (9 g saturated fat; 72 percent calories from fat); 9 g carbohydrates; 0.4 g sugar; 86 mg cholesterol; 300 mg sodium; 6 g protein; 0.4 g fiber.