Slow Food USA believes that “slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food.” In an effort to take back the “value meal” they issued a $5 meal challenge. Lisa and I co-hosted a potluck to participate in the challenge.
We asked potluck attendees to bring a dish, such as an appetizer/salad, side, main course, or dessert with the caveat that the cost of the ingredients in the dish be limited to no more than $1.25 per serving. The per serving price was based on approximately 4 food items per meal. That way, by eating one serving of each course, the whole meal would be $5 or less.
In my usual fashion, I came at the challenge in a bass akwards manner. While in Atlanta for a business trip, I dined at a few local restaurants doing farm-to-table cuisine. I came away really impressed with the food overall but absolutely bowled over by the desserts. I was so knocked out, I couldn't wait to re-create the desserts at home and the potluck seemed like the perfect opportunity. So instead of purchasing ingredients that fit within the price per serving parameter, I had to work backwards and adjust recipe quantities and serving sizes to squeak under $1.25 per serving. (Math is not my strong suit but I managed.)
Miller Union, where I had a fig tart in a brown butter shell topped with whipped cream. When I first cut into the tart shell it was so brittle it cracked- I initially thought the dough had been overworked and was tough but when I tasted the brown butter flavor and the lightly crisp texture, all was forgiven. That tart was so simple and yet flat out divine.
I started researching recipes to create a brown butter tart shell immediately upon my return home. I tried three different iterations and have not yet hit on one I’m satisfied with, which is why I didn’t share a recipe here. You can be sure that if I finally achieve that crispy yet light and supremely flavorful brown butter tart crust that I had at Miller Union, I’ll update this post with the recipe.
The prototype shown above was a good start but the tart crust flavor was off a bit and the taste of the fresh, raw figs got lost. Also, there was no way I was going to make the cost per serving limit with individual tarts so I went back to the drawing board. The second crust attempt didn’t even rate filling and got tossed into the trash. On my third attempt, I decided I could live with it even if it wasn't exactly the crust that I was looking for.
In the end I went with a 9 inch tart shell filled with figs roasted in honey arranged over Confituras award winning Texas fig preserves and served with cream whipped with Pure Luck Dairy June's Joy goat cheese and honey. I estimated that when cut judiciously, the tart would yield 10 slices with a cost per serving of 87 cents. Topped with 1 1/2 tablespoons of whipped goat cheese cream at 13 cents, the grand total per serving came in at exactly $1. Whew!
I admit I was a little skeptical at first that you could serve a delicious meal made from high quality ingredients for only $5 per person. After enjoying the creative and delicious dishes that the others came up with for the challenge, I can attest that it's a fact.