06
Oct
09

Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie


Insanely delicious Fresh Fig Tart with Crystallized Ginger

Insanely delicious Fresh Fig Tart with Crystallized Ginger

I have a confession.  I get crushes on cook book authors.  My daughter used to call them “my new friends”.  She was right.  I think of these wonderful people as my friends.  They give me advice and impart knowledge about food and it’s preparation at any hour of the day or night.  They are always there for me.  They encourage me to try new things and inspire me to create my own concoctions.  And they actually live the life I aspire to live.  And, to tell the truth, my life is turning into the life that others envy. 

Marie Simmons is my new BFF.  Oh, she doesn’t know it,  but she wrote a cookbook that I can’t stop thumbing through.  Fig Heaven is fantastic!  We moved into our house in March of this year and I’ve posted about all of the fabulous fruit trees we have.  The front yard boasts a bountiful fig tree.

Ripe for the picking

Ripe for the picking

I actually met my current “crush” Marie Simmons.  It was years ago, when I was beginning to get Naked Baker off the ground.  Another cook book author crush, Patricia Greenberg, was doing a soy demonstration in the home of a chef in the hills of Berkley, California.  She invited me to attend (well, sort of, we did have to pay for the event, but if was sooooooo worth it).  There were about 15 people in attendance and we all sat in this tiny dining room facing the open kitchen.  Patricia did her demonstration of soy genius making a complete meal including appetizer and dessert.  Afterwards, we all sat down to a wonderful meal, complete with wine.  The woman seated to my left and I started a conversation as people do when they are sharing a meal.  We introduced ourselves and talked a bit about what we do, what our interests are, why we were attending this event and so on.  Her name stuck in my head: Marie Simmons.

I did not know who Marie Simmons was.  I know she told me she had written cook books and articles for food magazines.  I wanted to be her friend, but at the time I was too shy and did not feel confident in myself to persue any type of communication with this woman.   She was really nice and actually interested in my little business.  She said all of the usual nice things, very encouraging and wished me success in my endeavours.

The very next day I saw that name, Marie Simmons, in a Bon Appetit magazine.  I started to see her name in a lot of those magazines.  Wow!  I sat next to a food celebrity and talked to her and she was a normal person.  I think it is good that I did not know how important this Marie Simmons actually was.  She was just a nice pleasant woman who I had the opportunity to share a meal with.

Katie, my wonderful spouse, claims to be anti-fig.  In fact, I’ve met a number of not-so-much fig fans.  Marie, your recipe for Fresh Fig tart made a believer out of Katie!  She loved this.  I loved this so much I made her take it to work so I would not be tempted to nibble on it all day today.  The crust is amazing, like a butter cookie.  I look forward to trying some of the savory recipes before all of the figs are gone.  So, here’s to you, Marie, and your wonderful fig cookbook.  And, hopefully you won’t mind, but I am posting this recipe for my readers to enjoy.

Fresh Fig Tart

With Crystallized Ginger

From Fig Heaven by Marie Simmons 

1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour

6 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

10 tbsp (1 stick plus 2 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 egg yolk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 pounds (approximately) firm, ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed

2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger

Confectioners’ sugar 

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch loose-bottomed tart pan.

 2.  Combine ½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of  a food processor.  With the processor motor running, gradually add the butter through the feed tube.  Process until crumbly.

3.  Stir the egg yolk and the vanilla together in a small bowl.  With the motor running, gradually add the egg mixture through the feed tube.  Pulse the mixture until it begins to pull together.  (If the dough seems dry, sprinkle it with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (I used about ½ tablespoon when I made it).   The dough should be crumbly, but not dry.

4.  Turn the dough out directly into the prepared tart pan.  Gently press it on the bottom and up the sides of the pan in a relatively even layer; the dough will have a rough surface.  ( The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.) 

5.  Reserve 8 to 10 of the figs for the topping.  Cut the remaining figs into ½ inch pieces.  Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, and the crystallized ginger in a large bowl until blended.  Add the cut up figs and toss gently to coat them with the sugar mixture.  Spoon the filling evenly into the prepared crust; top with any sugar left in the bottom of the bowl.

6.  Bake the tart for 20 minutes.  Then reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the figs are hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.  (It took about 40 more minutes in my oven, but do check often after 25 minutes).  Remove from the oven

7.  Trim about ½ inch from the tops and bottoms of the reserved figs.  Cut each fig crosswise into three or four ¼ inch thick rounds.  Carefully place the sliced figs close together on the surface of the tart, pressing them down gently into the hot fig mixture.  Let the tart cool on a wire rack.

8.  Before serving, remove the rim from the pan.  Slide the tart, still on the base of the pan, onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into wedges, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream if desired.  (We served  it plain because we have been pigging out on home made ice cream all week and it’s time for a break from the butter fat!!!)

 

 

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5 Responses to “Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie”


  1. October 6, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Mmmmm, this tart is heaven. You amaze me, Pookie!

    Question: What do you call a tart making tart?

  2. October 6, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Answer: VampireGran!

    I love you!

  3. October 7, 2009 at 3:02 am

    Patty:

    Your fig tart looks amazing. You are obviously a fabulous baker. Thank you so much for sharing your love of figs with me, and the rest of us. I am thrilled to hear you are enjoying Fig Heaven, and are as crazy (or maybe crazier) than I am for this rather remarkable fruit. We have to keep gobbling them up, because soon the season will be over. Have you tried using the leaves? They impart a haunting flavor to the food they touch. I don’t recommend eating them. They’re a bit tough. But, line your rice cooker before adding the rice and water and see what happens. The flavor is coconut, vanilla, a hint of cinnamon, or none of the above. It’s difficult to identify. The other night I lined a gratin dish with a big fig leaf, place halved figs around the edges, and diced Laura Chanel goat cheese in the center on top of the leaf. Then drizzled all with a stream of olive oil and honey, sprinkled with rosemary leaves, salt and pepper and baked in a very hot (like 450 on convection) for about 15 minutes. (Sometimes I put a dot of good balsamic in the center of each fig just before serving, but usually I forget!) To serve spread a layer of the hot cheese on a slice of baguette and squash one of the hot gooey caramelized fig halves on top. Oh, yum. It’s an appetizer, a meal, dessert. No, it’s heaven. Keep baking. You’re great.

  4. October 7, 2009 at 2:38 pm

    wow what a great tart love it!

    Michael

    http://thegodscake.wordpress.com

  5. May 30, 2010 at 9:50 am

    I had to come read the story behind how you had decided to make this amazing looking tart.
    I tell you…If I knew that I could get my hands on quality fresh figs…I would go out…get me some…and get that tart baked. Unfortunately, here in Montreal…we’ll have to wait. I do wish I were back in Italy. During the Month of August…Mom would always find me tucked in the backyard fig tree ;o)
    I loved the post! It is amazing how when we decide to change one small direction in life…it somehow opens a whole exciting world onto the unknown. That is why I do name my decision to blog…my culinary journey.
    All the very best and flavourful wishes, Claudia


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