This summer I’ve been living at home with my parents. They both work during the day, so I have a lot of alone time to think (or sleep), cook (or eat), work on my summer class (or be on the internet), and other productive things of the sort.
But seriously, I’ve been doing a little thinking. During one such adventure, I realized that it’s been about two years since I’ve been home for this long!
I know spending less time at home is a symptom of getting older, but it’s still a bit strange. By now my room feels like my room again. I’ve even christened a Chair of Doom where I pile all the clothes that “I’ll fold and put away later.” Not that that’s a habit…
Yup, I’m settled in.
Anyway, being home has got me all nostalgic. Sometimes I’ll talk with my parents about super random memories I have from when I was little. For someone with a terrible memory I have kind of a lot of them!
Such as the superman pajamas I had with a detachable velcro cape. #neverforget
Many memories are connected to food, of course. Like when I would go grocery shopping with my mom, and she would let me get a donut out of the case in the bakery section to eat while we shopped. (Evidently being in a store full of food without eating any of it was too much for little Molly to handle.)
I’d hold on to the—now empty—plastic bag that had temporarily contained a donut until it was time to pay, and we’d tell the cashier, “Well, there used to be a donut in here.”
I bring this up because from the same bakery section of that grocery store we used to get these fantastic fruit tarts. They were fairly small but always decorated beautifully, colorfully dotted with berries and slices of kiwi and mandarin orange. I was just talking with my mom about them. She remembers how sometimes the woman who made the tarts would spread a layer of chocolate between the shortbread crust and the creamy filling so the crust wouldn’t get soggy. Genius.
Today’s tarts are a little ode to those tarts of days past. They’re revamped to include exciting things I’ve been wanting to experiment with, like TWO INGREDIENT date crusts (no added sugar!) and vegan pastry cream. But I think it’s fun to take foods deeply rooted in our memories and emotions and tweak them to match your life today. They still keep their meaning, but you also get to exercise your imagination!
What memories do you have connected to food? Have you tried to recreate anything you’ve eaten in the past? I’m contemplating doing a series of recipes for foods that have strong memories. Like you guys could tell me a food memory you have, and then I’d share it on my blog along with a recipe for the food… I don’t know, thoughts are flying around.
OK LET’S EAT TARTS.
No-Bake Vegan Fruit Tarts
(makes approx. 3 five-inch tarts)
1.5 c. pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
1.5 c. mix of pecans and almonds, or just one type
¼ cup all-purpose flour*
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used coconut)
¼ c. sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Assorted fruit of your choice!
1. Make the crust: In the body of a food processor, pulse the dates and nuts together until a large ball forms and the nuts are broken up into bits. Some small pieces of nut are normal. If you want a finer texture, process a bit more. Line your tart pans with wax paper and press the date crust into the pans. (Wetting your fingers slightly with water will help the dough not stick to you.) Refrigerate.
2. Make the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and ¼ cup of the milk until no clumps of flour remain. Place flour mixture, the remaining milk, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk continuously until mixture becomes thick, 5-10 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla extract and cook for 1 more minute, still stirring.
Remove from heat and transfer cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the cream to prevent a skin from forming on the top. Place cream in the refrigerator to cool for at least 1 hour.
3. Assembly: Once your cream filling has cooled, take the crusts and filling out of the fridge. Distribute the pastry cream evenly between the tarts. Top with desired fruit and keep the tarts in the fridge until ready to serve.
*If you’re gluten-free, 2 tbsp. corn starch should work fine instead.