Every year around this same time, I make the twenty-minutes-by-car epic journey home to visit my parents.
I’m sure they think it’s because I’m a good daughter. Because I want to see them “one last time” before the craziness of the school year starts.
But so long as we’re being honest. (And when are we ever not?)
I do it for the figs.
I grew up with two fig trees in our backyard and so I had no idea how much of a hot commodity they were until I went to college and no one I knew had ever heard of or eaten them before. I suppose even then, I thought it was weird, but still didn’t think much of it.
Then I started reading food blogs. (Especially one in particular. Stacey, I’m talking to you.)
Almost immediately realized just how coveted they are.
And thus began my career as a fig thief.
This past Sunday was the day.
After a trip to IKEA with my brother and finalizing dinner plans with my mother, which included having to explain to her for the umpteenth time that chicken is not under any circumstances vegetarian, I casually sauntered around our backyard. As obliquely as possible.
Until I happened to find myself standing in front of the trees in question. Coincidence? Fate? (Our yard is not quite big enough for either of those arguments to hold weight in a court of law. But still. A girl can dream.) Sheer force of will?
You be the judge.
Sadly enough, I was only able to steal borrow scavenge a single fig this year, likely due to Hurricane Irene’s evil ways.
(And to think my parents said that there was no water damage to the house! Apparently, they forgot to assess their most prized possession.)
It was a let-down for sure.
I may or may not have cried. Inconsolably.
Thankfully, however, though my parents’ trees may not have endured NYC’s latest natural disaster, wherever the street fruit vendors are sourcing their goods from did not come to a similar fate.
They’ve had “two pints for five bucks” specials for the past few weeks. And man. Have I ever been buying.
One of the first things I made with the figs this year, after inhaling a box as is, is this fresh fig and strawberry tart. I’ve had it bookmarked since I bought Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts cookbook back in February. And it was most certainly worth the wait.
Filled with a hazelnut frangipane-esque cream, it is both nutty and fruity at the same time. You’ll find yourself cutting slivers of it every time you pass the kitchen table (funny, isn’t it, how often that seems to happen when there’s a tart on it). I have it on the highest authority that sliver calories don’t count. So slice away.
Fresh Fig and Strawberry Tart
Makes 1 10-inch tart, adapted from Martha Stewart’s Pies and Tarts Cookbook
- 1 1/4 cups spelt flour (or AP flour)
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water
- 3/4 cup blanched hazelnuts, toasted
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 tbsp amaretto (or cognac)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz figs, trimmed and halved lengthwise
- 8 oz strawberries, halved if large
- Make the crust: Pulse flour, sugar, and 1/2 tsp salt in a food processor until combined. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds. Drizzle 2 tbsp ice water over mixture. Pulse until mixture just begins to hold together (it should be neither wet nor sticky). If dough is too try, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse. Press dough into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour, or overnight.
- Roll dough to a 14-inch circle on a floured surface. Fit dough into bottom and sides of a 10-inch round tart pan. Trim excess dough flush with edges, using a knife. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350. Prick bottom of tart shell all over with a fork. Fill with pie weights or dried beans or dried rice. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove weights and bake until set, about 5 minutes. Let cool. Leave oven on.
- Pulse hazelnuts in the food processor until finely chopped. Add sugars, zest, and 1/4 tsp salt. Pulse to combine. Add butter, amaretto, eggs, and vanilla. Pulse until mixture is almost smooth.
- Spread filling evenly into tart shell. Top with figs and strawberries. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325. Bake until set and dark brown on top – 1 hour more. Garnish with whipped cream.
I am submitting this to Bake with Bizzy!