As The Actor-turned-chef’s new cookbook, Life is a Party, proves, throwing an amazing bash doesn’t have to involve a lot of time and trouble. Our July/August cover star shared a few with us:
Brown Butter Mixed Berry Tart
PREP TIME 20 minutes
ACTIVE TIME 20 minutes
TOTAL TIME 1 hour 20 minutes
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup plus ⅓ cup granulated sugar
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out, pod discarded or reserved for another use
2(6-ounce) packages raspberries (3 cups)
1(6-ounce) package blackberries (1½ cups)
Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting (optional)
9-inch tart pan with removable bottom
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat, then cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown but not burned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine ⅓ cup of the sugar, 1 cup of the flour and the salt. Add ½ cup of the browned butter and the vanilla extract, then mix with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly and homogeneous, about 6 minutes.
- Press the mixture into an even layer over the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Use a fork to poke 8 or 9 holes all over the bottom of the tart shell and bake for 8 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for 8 minutes more, until lightly golden. Remove the tart crust from the oven and let cool.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla bean seeds, and the remaining ½ cup sugar until combined, then whisk in the remaining browned butter and the remaining ¼ cup flour; set aside. It should look thin and drippy.
- Arrange the raspberries and blackberries in the tart pan, pointy-side up, starting with one ring of blackberries along the outside edge, then filling in with smaller and smaller rings of raspberries and ending with a small cluster of blackberries in the center.
- Carefully pour the custard over the berries, filling in the spaces between them as best you can. Tap the tart pan on the counter so the filling oozes between the berries. Return the tart to the oven and bake, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time, until the filling has risen, the top is golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center of the tart comes out dry (not including berry juice!), 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired. Slice and serve while still slightly warm or at room temperature.
Makes 2 Drinks
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
ACTIVE TIME: 5 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 10 minutes
3 ounces Campari
3 ounces sweet vermouth
6 to 8 ounces prosecco
2 orange wheels, for garnish
- Fill two white wine glasses halfway with ice and pour 1½ ounces each of the Campari and the vermouth into each one.
- Stir at least 20 times (a colder drink will allow the prosecco to remain bubblier longer).
- Add prosecco to fill the glasses ¾ of the way.
- Swipe an orange wheel around the rim of each glass, then drop it into the glass before serving.
David Burtka’s Party Playlist
SUMMER MADNESS by Kool & The Gang
SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER by The Motels
SUMMER BREEZE by Jason Mraz
SUMMERTIME by Annie Lennox
YOUR SUMMER DREAM by The Beach Boys
BUZZCUT Season by Lorde
FEELING GOOD by Nina Simone
FANTASY by Alina Baraz and Galimatias
A SUMMER SONG by Chad and Jeremy
ENDLESS SUMMER NIGHTS by Richard Marx
LAZY by Marilyn Monroe
UP ON THE ROOF by The Drifters
LOVELY DAY by Bill Withers
with goat cheese and pink peppercorn honey
PREP TIME: 5 minutes
ACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 30 minutes
¼ cup sliced almonds
½ cup honey
1 tablespoon whole pink peppercorns, lightly crushed
16 ripe fresh figs
4 ounces fresh goat’s-milk cheese (chèvre)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spread the almonds on a small baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly golden, 6 to 7 minutes; transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.
- In a small saucepan, warm the honey and pink peppercorns over medium-low heat until the honey is warm and fluid but hasn’t come to a simmer, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the honey cool completely.
- Cut off the top ½ inch of each fig. Use a very small spoon to scoop out the seeds from each fig, creating a hollowed-out core, and transfer the seeds to a small bowl. Add the goat cheese, 2 tablespoons of the cooled honey, and a pinch of salt to the seeds and stir to combine. Spoon the mixture into the figs with a small spoon. Drizzle the figs with the remaining honey and top with the toasted almonds before serving.
Porcini-Rubbed Rib Eye Steak
with oven-dried tomatoes and arugula
Serves 3 to 6
PREP TIME : 10 minutes
ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 35 minutes
For the steaks
¼cup broken-up small pieces of dried porcini mushrooms, or ¼ cup porcini mushroom powder (available from Amazon)
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon granulated garlic1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
3 (1-inch-thick) bone-in or boneless rib eye steaks
Olive oil, for the grill pan
1. Make the steaks: If you’re using whole dried porcinis and have a spice grinder, process the mushrooms in the spice grinder until they form a fine powder; transfer to a jar or small bowl. Process the salt and peppercorns in the same grinder and add them to the mushroom powder. Process the granulated garlic, sugar and red pepper flakes in the grinder, add them to the spice mixture, and shake (or stir) to combine. (If you don’t have a spice grinder, use the dried porcini powder and pound everything in a mortar and pestle.)
2. Place the spice mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and coat all sides of the steaks evenly with the spices.
3. Lightly coat a grill or grill pan with olive oil. Heat the grill to medium-high or heat the grill pan over medium-high heat. Place the steaks on the grill and cook until they feel like the flesh between your thumb and your pointer finger when lightly pressed, 4 to 5 minutes per side for bone-in and 3 to 4 minutes per side for boneless. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest as you make the salad.
4. Make the salad: In a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the lemon juice; transfer to a large platter.
5. Slice the steaks crosswise into ½-inch-thick pieces and against the grain, then arrange the steak over the salad. Sprinkle the oven-dried cherry tomatoes over the steak and drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction before serving.
Makes about 1 cup
PREP TIME : 5 minutes
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 40 minutes
1 pint cherry tomatoes halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Place the tomatoes in a bowl, drizzle them with the olive oil, and sprinkle with the salt. Spread them over a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Toss to coat. Roast, tossing once halfway through the cooking time, until they shrivel and caramelize, about 1 hour 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature. (These can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator covered in olive oil for up to 2 months.)
For the salad
3 cups baby arugula
Juice of 1 small lemon
Oven-Dried Tomatoes Balsamic vinegar reduction, for drizzling
Spice grinder or mortar and pestle, outdoor grill or grill pan
Recipes & photos: Excerpted from LIFE IS A PARTY: Deliciously Doable Recipes to Make Every Day a Celebration. Copyright © 2019 by David Burtka, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.