a) crack open a can of spray cheese and a package of Ritz crackers, and call it a day
b) run frantically around the kitchen, waving your arms and babbling incoherently for the next hour
c) casually whip up a nice little snack using staples from your pantry, since you've got some foolproof recipes set aside for just this sort of thing
OK, I'll admit, only Martha Stewart can probably manage option C without throwing in at little bit of option B, but the point I'm trying to make is that every good cook should have a small repertoire of trusty go-to recipes for last-minute emergencies like these. It's what separates the real cooks from the mere dilettantes.
When it comes to desserts or afternoon snacks, this simple tart is my disaster recovery plan. Using the same technique as the old-school Bisquick Impossible Pie, it takes less than 5 minutes to whip up, uses basic ingredients that should usually be on hand in any well-stocked kitchen, and is presentable enough to serve to company. It ought to leave you with just enough time to tidy up the kitchen and greet your guests with a Martha-like serenity.
"Impossible" Lemon-Coconut Tart
1 cup milk
Zest and juice from 2 lemons
¾ cup sugar
½ cup biscuit mix
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a 9-inch pie pan or flan dish, and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together milk, lemon juice and zest, sugar, biscuit mix, eggs and melted butter until smooth. Pour mixture into the prepared pie pan, and sprinkle evenly with the coconut.
Bake in preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, or until centre of tart is set and coconut is golden brown. Serve at room temperature with a few fresh berries (or a raspberry coulis, if you can spare the time to make some).