Some things I’ve really come to appreciate lately:
1. Trader Joe’s and their vast selection of appealing non-alcoholic beverages
2. The elephant slippers I got at the night market in Luang Prabang, Laos. We do not have a single square inch of carpeted floor in this house, so slippers are pretty necessary.
3. Mike’s excitement about the giant Swiffer-like floor cleaner he found at Home Depot, which has WASHABLE cloth covers instead of disposable ones. Clean the floor, save the earth.
4. Squats. (I don’t have a picture for this one) When I was running all the time I never did squats because they made my legs too tired. Now that I’m stuck on the elliptical and bike, I’ve been doing a lot of squats to keep up my leg strength and I LOVE them!
5. Pinto beans. Not only to eat, but to use as pie weights.
6. Orange blossom water. Because it makes desserts taste like flowers.
7. FRESH FIGS. For a limited time only. I can’t get enough.
I have been really loving the idea of tarts lately, so I wanted to figure out a tart that incorporated figs. I made a cornmeal crust (my new favorite crust, for sure), filled it with honey pastry cream (just leave out the sugar and a little of the milk and use honey) with a little orange blossom water, and topped it with thinly sliced fresh figs. I was extremely happy with this tart, and Mike was too. So happy, in fact, that we ate half of it in one sitting. We don’t do moderation very well.
The only tart pan I have is 11″ wide, which is pretty big. This would definitely be better in a 9 or 10 inch pan, so if you have one, use it!
makes 1 9″ tart
(adapted from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)
1 stick butter (4 oz), chilled and cut into small cubes
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
2 large eggs
2 tsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp orange blossom water
6-8 fresh black figs, sliced thinly into wedges
First, make the crust:
Whisk the egg yolks and heavy cream together in a small bowl.
Combine the flour, corn meal, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add the cubes of butter and pulse until it resembles small pebbles. Add the egg yolks and cream and pulse until the dough comes together.
Press the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Roll out the dough between two sheets of plastic wrap (or on a floured surface) and transfer to a 9″ tart pan. Prick a few times with a fork.
Put a sheet of parchment on the crust and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 10 minutes.
Turn the heat down to 350 F, remove the parchment and pie weights, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let cool completely.
To make the pastry cream: Bring the milk and honey to a simmer in a small saucepan.
In a medium bowl, sift the corn starch and salt over the eggs, then whisk until smooth.
Once the milk is simmering, pour it into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium, whisking constantly. Once it is thick and pulling away from the sides, remove from the heat, and pour through a strainer into a clean bowl.
Stir in the butter and orange blossom water. Press plastic wrap onto the surface and chill completely. If it’s a little lumpy, give it a spin in a food processor or blender to smooth it out.
Spread the cooled pastry cream evenly in the tart shell. Arrange the sliced figs on top.