I’m a rather organized, reasonable and strategic person… with a few specific exceptions:
#1: Chocolate chip situations: I don’t measure them. I can’t explain it. Pastry chefs are the “brain surgeons” of the kitchen, required to abide by weights + measures so I know better, and yet I still can’t shake the idea that more is more.
#2: When I walk into this store: something comes over me (perhaps it’s this amazing smell.) Money leaps out of my wallet without asking and new boots and dresses leap into my hands. It’s insane/amazing.
#3: A the grocery store: I typically have some sort of *list*, but I rarely stick to it and always end up with one bunch of this-that-looked-amazing, or some new granola, that yummy looking yogurt, all-the-spices I’ve meant to pick up, or the random ingredient that I’m pretty sure I wanted but for a recipe I don’t remember why or which one. And sometimes I’ll think of one thing that I’d *like* to have and I’ll stop for that, and end up walking out with an cartload of other delicious stuff.
This grocery store habit is amazing in only one way: I never have a shortage of delicious things to eat, and I typically have all the ingredients I’d need to make almost anything. The same habit is totally paralyzing in other ways; first, it’s really expensive to run amok in the grocery store. (Especially this gourmet/boutique version that we all love shopping and eating at.) Secondly, while I don’t remember the last time that I wasted a single nibble of produce, I have a whole pantry full of flours, spices, dried fruits, nuts, and special ingredients that it might take me a short lifetime to use up. Don’t get me wrong; having pantries, cabinets and ice boxes bursting at the seams with creative and interesting ingredients means that there’s always something amazing you can pull together. But sometimes, creativity comes from making do with what we have. Which brings me to the last reason that this grocery habit is not awesome: if I am constantly surrounded (or stocked) with quick solutions to what to cook or eat, I never get creative. And this is the opposite of what I want to be in the kitchen.
So, I attempted to break (or at least mix up) my grocery habits the other week when I challenged myself to only spend
$20 ok, $30 at the grocery store. At first, it was torture not to run out to the store when I ran out of an ingredient I typically always have. Bananas were the first to go. Then avocados. Then butter, bread and oats. And once the $30 was spent (which is far more than enough food for one or two people, by the way, depending on what you’re buying and how you’re cooking,) I had to think more about what I was preparing, and what I was going to eat. I finally used up all of those dried strawberries in rice porridge for breakfast instead of making oatmeal w/bananas. Instead of running out to buy a loaf of bread, I baked up a batch of these (also because I had just a bit of yogurt in the fridge.) I know that this sounds scary and boring to some of you, but I promise that this gets brilliant, and exciting in simple way that makes eating weeks all the more tasty for you as it did for me, if you have the confidence to know what ingredients can do what.
This same week, my dear friend Kate had a birthday, and I’m pretty certain that the best gifts are baked ones so I whipped out a few of my favorite recipes to prepare for her. It turns out that I was short on ingredients when it came to cakes, cookies, and ice cream, but I had everything I needed to make coconut macaroons (plus a bit of butter and a pint of raspberries) and so this little tart was born. And it might be the best dessert I’ve made all year, and a few of my most trusted palates agreed.
This tart: you only need seven ingredients, one bowl and a tart pan to mix it up. It’s quick to bake, easy to assemble, and really impressive to present. You likely have most of the ingredients in your pantry already and if you don’t, get going on that modern pantry and go stock up on butter, eggs and coconut because really, what have you been doing with your grocery money?
Enjoy this one – and by the way berries are here! So summer is on the way! Yay! –
A quick note on substitutions here:
Flavors are FUN, yes, but they also are the mechanisms by which our bodies nourish themselves. Flavors basically tell our bodies what the food is giving us – on a nutritional and energetic level. Our bodies then prepare enzymes to break those components down, assimilate them, and turn them into fuel for our vibrant lives. We can’t eat just one flavor and get all of the things we need, so learning to track the flavors in our foods helps us to be sure that we’re really getting all of the things we need in our meals. This particular recipe has three of six flavors. The more flavors we can enjoy in any meal or food, the happier and more balanced our bodies will be. If you’re wanting to learn more about how the flavors we eat fuel our bodies – energetically and nutritively, check out this little blog post.
Preheat the oven to 385℉.
Grease an 8×11″ tart pan and line it with parchment paper so that it overhangs on the sides to form a sling.
In a large bowl combine flour, shredded coconut, brown sugar and salt. Add the melted butter slowly and mix until a crumbly dough forms.
Press the mixture evenly into the prepared tart pan so it forms a solid base. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside.
In a medium bowl combine coconut, brown sugar, and egg whites. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Spread the raspberries evenly across the tart base. Plop the macaroon topping over the berries and press down gently, allowing a few of the raspberries to peek through.
Bake in the middle rack of the oven for about 20 minutes, or until the macaroon topping is deeply golden.
Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Remove the tart using the parchment sling from before and slice as desired to serve.