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......

For two.

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!


Joanna said...

Delicious ... I'm interested that you use phyllo as a matter of course, I've always rather liked it.

With some things, you barely need to bother with buttering or oiling it ... for instance, if I make a big mince pie, I pre-bake unoiled phyllo, put in the mince, then brush the little edge pieces for their second baking.

As you know, we don't do butter any more here, so I use almond oil for pudding-y phyllo. It doesn't always feel like second best!

I love this way of treating the figs - actually, it would be delicious without the pastry, if you were in a real hurry.

How nice to have a godson giving you such delicious presents.


Pomiane said...

In the interests of waistline, I gravitated to phyllo quite a few years ago - having focused for a long time before that on pastry-making as a particular interest - and now I find that things made with shortcrust or even pate sucre just seem unnecessarily heavy in comparison.

When you make mince pie as you mention, how many layers of phyllo do you use?

Truth be told, I suspect the Quince Jelly was made by his parents, but he did at least wrap it in foil and hand it over....

Anonymous said...

For Joanna.
"we don't do butter any more here"
Seems a shame. Have you read this?