Happy Easter, my friends.
I hope your day was full of love, laughter, friendship and food. All the good things that come with making a fresh start for spring.
I had a busy day. Up early for yoga, then church, then many hours in the kitchen (Do you want to come over and help me clean up?). Lots of successes and I can’t wait to share them with you because they are SO EASY.
Lebanon, why have I never been cooking your glorious food before today? Sigh. I say this all too often.
Despite getting a lot accomplished, I admit that it was a chore. There are days when I just don’t want to do anything. I don’t want to do laundry. I don’t want to clean. I don’t want to cook.
I want to go to a coffee shop and get lost in a book over a cup of something warm. Sit there until I’ve read it cover to cover. Rarely do those days happen, but when I’m in the mood for one, I’m really in the mood for one.
Today was one of those days but, alas, the to-do list could not be ignored. It’s my last weekend home for the next two weeks, which meant that there were chores to do and food to prep and freeze, ready for the grab-and-go lifestyle that that starts Wednesday night when I fly west to the City of Angels for four days of country music tomfoolery with Tomato.
I’m lucky that everything I made today was easy. Very easy, and I was done with everything (four meals, a batch of granola and dessert) in a little under four hours. High five for efficiency, and it left me with enough time to kick back and relax the rest of this Easter Sunday as what I’m sure will be my last Dutch Oven meal for at least 5 months time does it’s thang in the oven.
More on that deliciousness later this week, but for now, a fig tart.
I made a tart.
I don’t make tarts.
And here is why.
I’ve gone on before about how I’m a cake person, so it’s rare that you’ll see me prep any kind of pie or tart on these virtual pages.
1) As a general guideline, I don’t like fruit in desserts, and a lot of pies contain fruit.
2) I don’t like chunky fruit (in things like pie or yogurt)
3) I don’t really like my fruit cooked because it gets mushy and…yuck.
4) I think pie crust, even a “good one” is a waste of room in my stomach.
Tomato has found an exception and makes a pretty spectacular lemon tart with a shortbread crust, but lemon does seem to be the exception to the aforementioned fruit rule. So, to sum up. Me + pie = NO.
Today, however, I was so intrigued by a fig tart that I found in my cookbook thumbing this past week that it was worth a try, fruit, crust and all.
Why was this one different?
1) The fruit: Figs, which I love, are pureed to the point where they are not chunky (taking care of #2 above and thereby avoiding #3).
2) The crust: Nuts (in this case almonds), from which I cannot control myself (though my love does not discriminate), are pulsed with my own tweak of blood orange-infused olive oil rather than butter. BLOOD ORANGE-INFUSED OLIVE OIL. I could bathe in it. My awesomesauce crust eliminates the concern over #4 above.
I almost made this into an ice cream like I did with the Macadamia Nut Brittle Tart Ice Cream but, I don’t know, I didn’t think of it in time to freeze the canister to make it today. Plus, I technically already made fig ice cream.
Okay, I’m clearly feeling loquacious today, but a last comment on why this fits my Middle Eastern flow without coming from a particular country: figs and the olive oil. Both staples in the Middle Eastern diet, found in dishes a plenty and therefore, this tart would be a welcome addition to any table throughout the region.
A few notes:
The original recipe calls for the use of pine nuts. In fact, pine nuts were used in every recipe that I’ll be cooking this week. Pine nuts are expensive. I am not rich. I used almonds because I didn’t want to relinquish my first born to buy a few pounds of pine nuts for the week. However, if you don’t mind, feel free to use pine nuts anywhere that I’ve used almonds.
I know that I’m a snob when it comes to this olive oil, but if you can’t find it, feel free to use butter. Coconut oil I’m sure would be good as well. Or (though try this at your own risk), use regular olive oil and add maybe 1-2 TB orange zest. Or use orange juice instead of water in the crust recipe below. I’m thinking out loud, but I’m pretty confident these suggestions could work.
Recipe adapted from Harold in Top Chef, the cookbook
For the crust:
2/3 cup almonds, toasted
1 cup gluten-free flour mix (or all-purpose flour)
1 TB sugar
4 TB blood orange olive oil
3 TB water and ¾ cup water, divided
1 large egg yolk
For the filling:
4 ounces dried Black Mission figs
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or heavy cream, if you go dairy)
4 large eggs
1. Place the almonds in a food processor and roughly chop. Add the flour, sugar and salt, and pulse until the mixture is thoroughly combined, and the nuts are finely ground. Transfer to a medium bowl.
2. Add the egg yolk, oil and 3 TB water and combine, using your fingers if necessary, until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. In the meantime, in a medium saucepan, cook the figs, sugar and remaining water for about 20 minutes until the figs are very, very soft.
4. Transfer the fig mix to a blender and add the cashew milk. Blend to combine. Add the eggs and vanilla and blend to combine. Set aside.
5. Preheat the oven to 325F.
6. Remove the dough from the fridge, remove the plastic and pat the dough into a 9” tart pan or pie plate. Fit a piece of aluminum foil into the tart shell to help it keep its shape. Bake 10 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 6-8 minutes until golden brown.
7. Fill the tart shell with the filling mixture and bake 25-30 minutes, or until the center is set when you jiggle it. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temp.
8. Serve topped with anything you like: whipped cream (obviously), fig jam, or a drizzle of honey. I did lightly whipped coconut cream flavored with cinnamon and vanilla.