This summer has been glorious. After one of the longest and rainiest winters we've ever experienced, it is nice to be able to fully enjoy the summer months outdoors. The weather has been warm and pleasant, not too hot.
Figs, and their cute little stems poking out of the package, bright green, deep purple. Last week, I bought a bag of figs, 10 or so. I was so excited when I saw them in the store. I brought them home, and then completely forgot about them for a couple of days. Once found, their juices started seeping out of their skin, and I knew it would be too late if I didn't gobble them up that day.
Unable to eat a dozen figs, I knew that these little gems would need to make their way into a dish. I didn't want to use them in a dessert,
, being very close in my past. I found some inspiration from a fig and caramelized onion pizza I had a while back, and hoped to recreate it in my kitchen. Also, being intrigued by the newly en vogue micro greens, I envisioned a perfect accompaniment to this flat bread. A predominately sweet flavor, balanced by the creaminess of the cheese, and crisp earthy taste from the greens. Caramelized shallots turn from delicious to amazing once fried in butter, and then drizzled with balsamic, invokes some serious sensory stimuli. Sweet earthy figs, melt in your mouth, followed by a hint of creamy salty cheese. All flavors work so well together. A wonderful late summer treat. A perfect stage to display those beautiful figs.
FIG, CARAMELIZED SHALLOT, AND GOAT CHEESE FLATBREAD RECIPE
makes 2 medium size flat breads
notes: Micro greens can be substituted with arugula. Onions can be substituted for shallots, and dried figs can take the place of fresh. Any pizza dough recipe will work fine. If I am feeling extra lazy, I pop down to the grocery store and buy pre-made dough. There is no shame in that.
4 large shallots, sliced
2 tbsp butter for frying
2 - 3 tbsp good olive oil
6 - 8 figs, sliced
3 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1 - 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 handful micro greens
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 500ºF or higher, depending on your oven. Place a pizza stone into the oven and allow to get hot. If you don't have a pizza stone, place the flatbread onto a baking tray just before placing into the oven. Let the pizza stone sit in the oven for at least 20 minutes before using.
In a medium size frying pan, add the butter and sliced shallots. Fry on low-medium heat, turning occasionally, until the onions have browned and caramelized, approximately 10 minutes.
Place a piece of parchment paper onto the counter. Grab a fist-size piece of dough and place onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle a small bit of flour onto the dough, and with a rolling pin, roll it out flat and 1/4 inch thick.
Generously spread a tbsp (or more) of olive oil on the dough. Spread half of the shallots, 3 or 4 sliced figs, and then drizzle balsamic vinegar on top. Crumble the goat cheese, drizzle a touch more oil, and season with salt and pepper.
With a pizza paddle, lift the flatbread and parchment paper, and place it onto the pizza stone. If you are using a baking tray, place the flatbread and paper onto the tray and into the oven.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes, or until the flatbread begins to turn golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool. Sprinkle with micro greens and serve.
Paris has been dreamy. Each day we spend hours and hours roaming the city, every nook and cranny. Two days back, we found a water fountain that dispenses carbonated water, how posh.
Other days are spent it in the kitchen, Chantal and I, sharing our own baking secrets, trading recipes. She has opened my eyes to moule et frites, clams in cream sauce, olives in quiche, and herbs in bread. Today, for our last meal in Paris we dine on paella and fig tart for dessert, cheese to follow of course.
Things to note while cooking in a Parisian kitchen, everything is tiny. The stove and fridge, both barely fitting a weeks supply. The oven will only heat if the timer has been
turned on. Cupboards are extremely tall. The washing machine is not a dishwasher, even if it's placed in the same spot. The washing machine also doubles as a dryer, intriguing.
A quick trip to the Monoprix, turns into an all day affair, new foods intrigue me, I want to try them all. I gather a handful of figs, gently placed in my bag to avoid being squished by the bread and cheese. Giant they are, sweet and earthy. Back at Chantals', it's another recipe, this one slightly different from the
. I am starting to get the hang of pastry dough, as it becomes second nature, skills I though I would never acquire. The tart cools on the windowsill, beside the basilic and persil. Once cooled, I spoon my creamy mascarpone filling into the shell, gently line my figs row by row. A drizzle of honey to compliment it all. A rich and creamy sweet dish, colorful and beautiful, a perfect ending to a wonderful stay, shared amongst friends.
We are now on our way to Croatia, a beautiful place I've heard. I am really not sure what culinary treats they have to offer, but I promise to share soon. In the mean time, I leave you with a few pictures of our travels in Paris and a some things to note. Parisian men are some of the best dressed I've seen. French baguettes now elicit some sort of Pavlovian response, with their warm sweat yeasty smells, drifting from the bakery windows in the early mornings. Ice cream and the Eiffel Tower are a must. Macarons are tiny bundles of soft chewy marshmallow type cookies, salted caramel my favorite. What I would do for a Ladurée beside my house. And finally, people in Paris know how to eat, and they take it seriously. This is my kind of place.
FIG MASCARPONE TART RECIPE
makes one 9" tart
recipe adapted from Stephanie at
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup whole ground almond flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
7 tbsp butter, chilled and cubed
3 - 4 tbsp cold water
450g mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, sliced and scraped
zest from 1 lemon
5 large figs, cut into eighths
2 tbsp good quality liquid honey
In a large mixing bowl, add the flours and the sugar. Combine the ingredients. Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry cutter or you can use your hands. Continue to mix until it resembles coarse meal. Add the egg and combine. Slowly drizzle in the cold water tbsp by tbsp while continuing to combine, kneading with your hands. Continue in this manner until the mixture starts to stick together and form a ball.
Gather the dough and pat together. Form into the shape of a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
Remove the dough from the fridge and place in the center of the tart pan. With your hands, start working the dough, flattening it and evenly distributing throughout the tart shell. The tart should be 1/4 - 1/2 inch thickness.
Once you have worked the dough covering all edges of the tart shell, poke
tiny pricks on the bottom of the shell with a knife or toothpick. This will allow the air to escape. Place the tart shell in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the tart has turned golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the mascarpone, cream, and sugar on medium until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla seeds and lemon zest and continue to whip until the cream forms stiff peaks. Spoon the filling into the cooled tart shell.
Wash and cut the figs into eighths. Place them on top of the filling with the flesh side facing up. Drizzle the honey on top of the figs and serve, or store in the fridge until ready to serve. Can be stored in the fridge for 2 days.