Thursday, October 22, 2009

want a slice of fig, bacon & blue cheese tart with balsamic reduction drizzle?

what if i told you the tart is easy to make, comes together quickly and is delicious? so...with fresh fig season rapidly coming to a close...i suggest you make it as soon as you about this weekend?

i have written many times of my love of fresh beloved fig tree produces two crops per year and i constantly experiment with new and different recipes in a effort to vary the way i serve this amazing fruit. i first asked the question do you like fresh figs? in a story written in june 2008 and listed my favorite fig recipes. i still am surprised at how often that story is accessed. i receive numbers of hits from search engines every day with people asking the question..."what do i do with figs?"

well....for me...the best thing to do is eat them fresh off the tree...particulary on a hot day when the figs are warm...pure bliss....after that, my only advice is to keep it simple....whatever the recipe...let the "figginess" shine through.

i have made fig jam for years...but last year my twitter friend lelonopo suggested i add orange liqueur to the jam...oh my! this stuff is so good i started making it in large batches and added it to my website. our fig & orange liqueur jam quickly became a best seller. but...let me tell you....after spending numerous hours the past few weeks in the commercial kitchen making the jam...i am ready for a few easy peasy recipes to end the season. one day last week...after eight hours in the commercial kitchen...i had a small basket of figs left...and no idea what to make for dinner. i inventoried the fridge and came up with some bacon, blue cheese and a frozen pie shell i had made a few weeks ago...i thought..."fig, bacon & blue cheese tart with salad? how great does that sound?" of all...if you have a tart shell on hand..this comes together in minutes.

so...a bit about the pie shell. this is one area where i do not even try to experiment any more. i am not a classically trained pastry chef and do not always understand the science of baking. one time i tried to substitute olive oil for the butter in a pie turned out like a i leave this area to the experts. and....once i find a recipe that works for me...i stick with it...making it over and over until it becomes foolproof for me. alice water's recipe for tart and pie dough is an example. i tried it years ago because it was made with all butter instead of the usual butter/shortening or all shortening recipes of the past...personal preference....but i do not care for shortening. i loved the results and pretty much use this version exclusively in all my pies. and...since the recipe yields 2 11 inch tart shells....i almost always have one in the freezer....a bonus when i am pressed for time.

to prepare for the recipe...make the tart shell (or, even easier, buy an excellent quality prepared frozen pie shell. i have seen ones made with high quality ingredients at whole foods and other specialty markets). cook the bacon using the oven method i discussed a few posts ago in BLT pasta?. once you have a tart shell and cooked bacon...the rest of the recipe is a total breeze! and the tart should be very handcrafted and rustic no need for perfection when arranging the figs.... :)

fig, bacon & blue cheese tart with balsamic reduction drizzle
12-18 fresh figs cut in half
6 slices thick cut bacon, cooked until very crispy and then chopped into small pieces
4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
grey salt
freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp fresh rosemary or lavender, minced
1 cooked pie crust (recipe follows)
balsamic reduction (recipe follows)

preheat oven to 375 degrees. fill bottom of cooked tart shell with fig halves, arranging in a circle and slightly overlapping. completely fill the shell with figs. season the figs lightly with salt and pepper. sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese and bacon over the figs. top with minced rosemary or lavender. bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until cheese is melted and figs are hot and bubbly. remove from oven, allow to cool slightly and cut into wedges. drizzle with balsamic reduction and serve.

Alice Waters Tart and Pie Dough RecipeMakes two 10-ounce balls of dough: enough for two 11-inch tarts or one double-crust 9-inch pie
Have measured:
1/2 cup ice-cold water
Mix together:
2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 teaspoon salt (omit if using salted butter)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into small (1/4-inch cubes)

Cut or work the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or your fingertips, leaving some of the butter in fairly large, irregular pieces. This will take 1 or 2 minutes. (or mix for no more than a minute, at medium-low speed in a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.)

Pour in three-quarters the water, stirring all the while with a fork until the dough begins to form clumps. (In the mixer, turn the speed to low and pour the water down the sides of the bowl, mixing for 30 seconds or less.) Keep adding water if needed. Divide the dough in two, bring each part together in a ball, then flatten them into disks. Let rest, refrigerated, for 1 hour or longer.

Line a 9-inch tart or pie pan with the dough, folding the edges in to make double-thick sides. Press the sides in to make double-thick sides. Press the sides in well and prick the bottom all over with a fork. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To keep the dough from shrinking while it bakes, line the shell with a piece of foil or parchment paper, then fill the tart with a layer of dried beans (or other pie weights). Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown around the edge. Take the tart out of the oven and remove the foil and the weights. Return to the oven and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, until the pastry is an even light golden brown.

balsamic reduction
2 cups balsamic vinegar
1 tsp organic honey
1 tsp organic agave nectar

add ingredients to saucepan and cook over medium heat until liquid has reduced by half. allow to cool. i always keep this on hand, stored in a mason jar in my refrigerator....drizzle on cheese, fruit (esp strawberries), steak, roasted or poached chicken, steamed vegetables, pound cake....i use this on almost everything...

welcome to fall everyone!

napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green live of style"
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

what is Studio-Store?

oct 2009 update....

yeah! we have a store! is a temporary "pop-up" shop called Studio-Store in downtown napa. my friend, the artist valerie raven, and i have moved into a vacant storefront @ 1144 main street, napa ca 94559. we are here until the landlord leases as a long term we could be here a month? a year? who knows?...but you gotta be creative in this economy.

the entire napa farmhouse 1885™ collection, along with cool art from valerie , is available for please come and visit....we are open wednesday through saturday from noon to six. and sign up for our mailing list for notices of all the special events we have planned....

i will post updates and photos soon....oh, and for those of you who have emailed me asking why it has been so long since i posted...this is the reason....we spent the past few weeks moving in and setting up...but i am working on a new blog post to be published this does a fresh fig, bacon, blue cheese tart with balsamic drizzle sound?

napa farmhouse 1885™
"live a green live of style"™

follow me on twitter

to learn about our company...and receive special offers only available to our preferred customers...please sign up for our email list....on the right hand sidebar of this post....thanks!