Saturday, 21 July 2007
Recipe: Fig & Quince Tarts
One of the pleasures of the past couple of weeks in Italy was the arrival in the market of the boxes of green and purple figs which are such a transient and decadent pleasure at this time of year! I never know exactly when they're going to appear, and even once they have, you can't be certain of them being available today just because they were yesterday. As Anna's cousin shrugged the other day when I asked in vain for some, "Who knows? Some days the Contadine bring them in, if they've picked them....and others they don't....." It's an entirely opportunistic process: if they're there, grab them - but don't ever take it for granted that they will be and over-optimistically plan your menu accordingly!
I'm not sure figs actually call for 'recipes' so much as presentational methods. Figs are, without question, sublime things in and of themselves. The following is one such presentational method - but bear in mind that the combination of fresh figs with Cointreau is excellent, and should be remembered for whenever you find fresh figs available......
Ingredients: 3 ripe, medium sized fresh green Figs; 2 generous tablespoons Cointreau; 2 sheets Phyllo Pastry, each approx. 12" x 6"; 1 oz Butter; 2 tablespoons Quince Jelly (or quince paste, if you can get it; I was lucky enough to be given a supply for Christmas last year by my Godson, proudly presented as home-made).
1. Slice the Figs thinly, place in a shallow bowl, and pour the Cointreau over the slices. Leave to macerate for several hours.
2. Melt the butter, and use it with the Phyllo to make two individual pastry shells, baked to a fine crispness.
3. Drain the sliced Figs, and pour the macerating liquid into a small saucepan. Divide the Fig slices between the two pastry shells.
4. To the liquid in the pan add the quince paste or jelly, and stir over medium heat until the whole mixture is liquid and of a thick-but-pourable consistency. Gently pour over the sliced Figs in the pastry shells, and leave to go cold before serving.
A generous spoonful of cream beaten stiffly with the contents scraped out of a vanilla pod goes very well with this!