Have you ever been so proud of a meal you’ve made that you eat it while smugly thinking that some poor head chef must know that something is missing from their menu, but they don’t yet know that it is the very thing you have in your mouth right now?
Well it might just be me and I am exaggerating of course (my ego is miniscule really!) but I was in dire need of a boost in the kitchen and have been for some time – this did the trick!
I’d been planning to make this for months before I finally got round to it (due to my current mindset encouraging an “oh why bother let’s just have pasta” approach to cooking), and my original intentions were to make the pastry from scratch and to use goat’s cheese. I do enjoy making pastry from scratch, especially shortcrust as I don’t tend to have disasters with that, but yesterday was very busy and so I grabbed a pack of ready-made. No crime at all of course, but allowing myself short-cuts is something I have to discipline myself not to discipline myself for… Making sense? Anyway, I was determined to finally make this tart, and thank God I did! I feel that it has given me the motivation to avoid the staple pasta and vegetables which requires no brain effort whatsoever. Another set-back was the goat’s cheese festering away at the back of the fridge. I was so sure the use-by date was longer than that! Luckily, faithful St. Agur saved the day and, while I inwardly mourned for the goat’s cheese, I marched forth to complete the task of the tart!
This was my inspiration: http://tinytearoom.com/fig-and-goats-cheese-tart/ . The tarts are small – I had one with salad (the salad was so good 🙂 I’ll share that too) and I was very peckish afterwards. I am not the kind of person to go fishing around the kitchen cupboards after dinner, but needless to say I couldn’t help myself last night, so yes I’d say these were starter material. The love had two, but I can’t tell you if he was satiated or not because (as is tradition on a Saturday night) I stay up to watch Jonathon Ross and he falls asleep on the settee completely oblivious… If I was to make this as a main meal for 2 I would use 1 larger tart tin instead of 4 little ones. For the latter, you will need four 8-10cm round tart tins.
Serves 4 as a starter, 2 as a main meal.
- 200g ready-made shortcrust pastry
- 60g st. agur or other soft, creamy blue cheese
- 4 small figs, halved (or 2 large, quartered)
- 2 medium eggs
- 100ml milk or cream
- 1 tbsp garlic chives*
- 2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
- pinch of salt
- a few walnuts or pecans, to scatter over the top
For the Salad
- 2 large handfuls rocket or mixed salad leaves
- 2 baby cucumbers, sliced thinly with a mandolin (or use quarter of a regular cucumber)
- about 4 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 2-3 figs, halved or quartered
- 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
For the Dressing
- 5 tbsp walnut oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- pinch of salt
- Preheat the oven to 180°c and lightly butter the tart tins.
- Roll the pastry out until you have a square measuring approx. 20 x 20cm**, then cut into 4 equal squares. Use these squares to line each tart tin with pastry, making sure it is placed evenly and any excess pastry is trimmed away. Prick the bases of each tart with a fork.
- Divide the figs and cheese between the tart cases. In a jug, put the egg, milk (or cream), chives, parmesan and salt and whisk until well combined. Pour this mixture over into the cases, taking care not to overfill – you may have a little left over. Decorate with 2 or 3 walnut pieces dotted over the top. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until the filling is set. Leave to cool slightly in the tin until you can lift it out onto a plate without burning yourself. Like I did. Because I was very hungry and impatient…
- Meanwhile, prepare the salad and make the dressing. Plonk all of the salad ingredients into a large bowl, and for the dressing you just need to combine the oil, vinegar and salt and set aside. Only pour the dressing over the salad and toss together when ready to serve to prevent the salad from wilting.
*I was lucky enough to come across a little tub of garlic chives in my local supermarket for only 50p! They are gorgeous little things and I wholly recommend you use them if you can find them. If not, just use ordinary chives – the tart will not suffer!
**In all honesty, I can never roll pastry into a decent square shape. Any recognisable shape actually, I find hard to replicate. Instead I do my best at rolling it out to the desired thickness, then I tear it apart and squish it into the tart cases 🙂 doesn’t sound as much like professional advice, but it works for me!