There's nothing like a dinner party with people who might not know each other very well
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to make me take notice of all of the different ways we
This weekend's Spaghetti Saturday.. 25+ people came and went. I couldn't help but smile as those who didn't know each other made introductions.
“Hi .. I'm .. we live across the street. My husband is, now wait? Where did he go? Oh yes, the cute one over there: blue shirt, wine in his right hand. We've lived in Ames ten years or so; he manages a program at Iowa State, we love to garden, and are new parents to three laying hens.”
“I remember your smile from a few Spaghetti Saturdays ago. Help me again; your name was? Ahhhh, I remember now, you always bring the Best salads. Your dog's name is Abby; you're both retired, and have four grandchildren.”
By now we're all practiced in the art of the introduction. In this fast-paced world of social media, we're often limited to 140 characters, have short attention spans, and strive for pithy openers.
Or we're left with three minutes in an elevator, or five minutes at a dinner party, and do our best to introduce ourselves, leading with only a few of the passions that really make us
who we are
As the evening wore on, I couldn't help but notice, the best parts weren't found in everyone's openers, but instead, the many elements of surprise each brought with them
He and his wife live a few houses down, retired after a long career with the Post Office. Surely they wouldn't tell stories that made everyone laugh until their ribs hurt. Surely they don't seem like the type that would bake the most incredible desserts. Surely he won't ever own another pet after his dog died it nearly broke his heart.
I found him a tissue or two (and one for me)
She's a Ph.D., who's a whiz at gathering and interpreting numbers by day, and moonlights as a sociology professor in the evenings
Surely she doesn't make the best mustard or crepes for that matter. Surely she doesn't call her sweet Russian mother a couple of times every day. Surely she doesn't develop an incurable craving for rice pudding every time boards a plane bound for
New York City
And yet, surely she does. Surely we all do, nobody is ever as they appear
I think about myself and some of the words I found myself using .. IT career woman, writer, puppy chaser, wife .. friend .. neighbor .. cookie baker. Just like everyone else, snippets from the many facets of the life that make me
I'm a woman who's the sum total everything I've done in the past, what I'll do today, and what I dream of doing tomorrow. I'm filled with contradictory thoughts, a few surprises, and oh so many flaws.
I'm the same woman who makes breakfast for her husband, rides her bike, and types late into the night. Who, when asked if she'd enjoy camping, replies maybe, but only with clean sheets, a warm shower, and a fully stocked refrigerator are part of the deal.
The same woman who would lovingly make and bring a meal to a friend, yet be agitated by the time she got there, after having to stop at every stoplight on the way
The same woman who looks at her picture at the top of this little piece of the internet, and realizes, just like everyone else that evening
I'm so much more
This tart was a fun one to make for dessert that evening
It's light and refreshing, a wonderful way to end a summertime meal. The airy custard filling melts in your mouth and is the perfect complement to the crisp dark chocolate crust.
A few notes
Be sure to use gluten-free rolled oats and oat flour if you're allergic to gluten
The original calls for cashews to make the homemade milk, which would be wonderful. The past few months I've taken to homemade hazelnut milk and used that instead. I imagine any nut milk would work really well.
When it comes to baking with matcha, not all are created equal. The first brand I tried left me with a tart that was pale green as opposed to a cooking grade tea, with a deep green color that's vibrant and bright.
When serving, I found the tart was best when cold. As it the custard came to room temp, it didn't seem to hold its shape as well.
Make-ahead: the crust can be made and pressed into the pan a couple of days ahead of time.
A few of the health benefits of matcha tea?
We've all heard of the benefits of drinking green tea, especially when it comes to antioxidants. Turns out matcha powdered green tea has 137 times more (!)
Matcha means “powdered tea.” When you order traditional green tea, components from the leaves get infused into the hot water; then the leaves are discarded. With matcha, you’re drinking the actual leaves, which have been finely powdered and made into a solution, traditionally by mixing about a teaspoon of matcha powder with a third cup of hot water (heated to less than a boil), which is then whisked with a bamboo brush until it's frothy
It can help calm your mind and relax your body.
Rich in fiber, chlorophyll, and vitamins
ps: More fun recipes and stories from Spaghetti Saturdays
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~ Adapted from AmyChaplin.com
Matcha Custard Tart with Chocolate Crust
- ¼ cup old-fashioned rolled oats (see the note above about gluten-free)
- ¼ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
- ½ cup + 1 Tbsp oat flour
- ¼ cup cocoa powder
- ½ tsp fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup almond meal
- ¼ cup brown rice flour
- 4 Tbsp coconut oil, melted but not hot (+ plus more for oiling pan)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup whole raw hazelnuts, soaked 2 to 6 hours
- 1 ½ cups shredded coconut, unsweetened
- 3 cups water
- 5 Tbsp maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp agar flakes
- 4 tsp matcha tea + more to dust
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- Make the crust
- Preheat oven to 350° F
- Thoroughly oil a fluted 9" tart pan (with removable bottom) and set aside.
- To the bowl of your food processor, add the oats, coconut, oat flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Blend until oats and coconut are finely ground.
- Place the oat mix in a bowl, add the almond meal and brown rice flour. Stir to combine.
- Add the coconut oil and stir until all of the flour is moistened.
- Add the maple syrup and vanilla.
- Mix until the dough has formed a ball. (If it isn't holding together, add a tsp of maple syrup. If the dough is really sticky, set it aside for 10 minutes to thicken)
- Wash and dry your hands and press crust thinly and evenly into the prepared tart pan.
- Prick with a fork and bake 18 minutes.
- Remove from oven and set aside to cool
- Make the filling
- Line a large strainer with a nut milk bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
- Place strainer over a medium pot and set aside.
- Drain and rinse cashews, and add them to an upright blender.
- Add coconut and 3 cups of water, blend on highest speed until very smooth.
- Pour into a lined strainer and gather the edges of the bag or cloth and gently squeeze out all liquid. Compost solids. (You should have 3 cups of coconut-cashew milk, if not add a little water)
- Rinse out the blender.
- Add maple syrup and agar flakes to the pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, whisking constantly.
- Reduce heat to low, cover pot and simmer for 15 minutes or until all agar flakes have dissolved. Whisk mixture every 5 minutes to prevent sticking.
- Remove from heat, uncover the pot and allow to cool for 10 minutes then pour the mixture into the blender.
- Add matcha and vanilla and blend until evenly combined and foaming
- Finish and Chill
- Gently pour filling into the tart crust.
- Allow to sit for another 15 minutes before transferring to the refrigerator to set. (This takes about 1 hour or until its completely chilled)
- Use a small strainer to dust with matcha.
- Serve cold.