|I love how the shape of the seeds inside a fig often resemble a leaf|
It's a great year for figs here at VP Gardens, though I fear some renovation pruning is required which will affect next year's crop. However, I'm staying in the present for now and the happy fact I have excess figs to deal with.
I'm continuing my experiments with seasonal tarts and quiches, and the thought of combining the sweetness of the figs with a salty blue cheese for a savoury tart for tea appealed. I don't usually go for combining sweet with savoury - ham and pineapple? Yuk. However, fruit with cheese is my exception to the rule, born out of the many cheese and apple sandwiches I had as a child.
It turned out to be a match made in heaven. Even NAH, suspicious at the thought when I suggested it, conceded the reality was very fine indeed.
Butter for greasing
Plain flour for rolling out
200g ready-made shortcrust pastry
2 tablespoons ground almonds
4 large figs, halved
100g blue cheese, crumbled
2 large eggs
150ml semi-skimmed milk
6-8 sprigs thyme, stalks removed (yields approx 2 teaspoons of leaves)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
If you want to make your own shortcrust pastry, use this recipe first.
Now for the savoury version...
- Butter a 25cm diameter flan dish, ensuring both bottom and sides are well covered
- Coat the surface where the pastry's going to be rolled out with a thin layer of flour
- Roll out the pastry to a size a little larger than the dish's diameter plus its sides
- Place the pastry on the dish, ensuring it's pressed well into the sides
- Prick the pastry generously with a fork and allow to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge
- Whilst the pastry is resting, pre-heat the oven to 200oC (170 for fan-assisted ovens)/Gas Mark 6
- When the pastry's well-rested, trim off the excess pastry, add some baking beans to the dish and bake-blind in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the base is crisp, but not browned.
- Remove the pastry base from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Place the base on a baking tray
- Add the ground almonds and ensure they form an even layer all over the base
- Place the figs on top of the almonds in a circle around the edge
- Arrange about two thirds of the cheese around the figs and in the middle of the pastry; also add a good blob of cheese to the centre of each fig
- In a bowl quickly whisk together the eggs, milk, thyme and black pepper, then pour the custard mixture over the figs
- Add the remaining cheese to the custard mixture,
- Bake for 25-30 minutes at the same temperature as before, or until the top is browned and the custard mixture is set
Serves 4-6. Serve warm with a large mixed salad.
- Substitute finely chopped walnuts for the almonds, for a richer, more earthy taste
- Use any strongly flavoured, salty, crumbly cheese you have to hand, such as feta or a nice bit of wensleydale
- It turns out one of my fellow Tomato Trials day attendees had a similar idea, though she used gorgonzola. This is the closest recipe I can find to what she described, which is more like a pizza than a tart. She said it went down very well with her family.