Tuesday 22 October 2013

Rowley Leigh's Fig and Goats Cheese Tart... discuss.

Ooh er, missus - I burnt my nuts
My neighbour Mike gave me this recipe from the FT. It looked just up my alley. A savoury tart that includes figs just about fits my 'everyday ingredients treated differently' philosophy. I like vegetarian starters, especially ones that can be repurposed for mains. I like Rowley Leigh's attitude to food. I remember his inclusion in a book of young chefs about 30 years ago; all are household names now. However, I have to report some small failings in the recipe and so, I believe, some improvements.

The basic idea is sound. This is a great combination of sweet and savoury and the pastry is a lovely, buttery crisp. It's a pretty thing too; rustic, charming in that... Sunday supplement, Gideon and I just happened to have some figs left over and a bit of cheese from our friends in Wiltshire who make it between oil painting and high finance so we bunged it all together... way. Gah!

Firstly, he tells you to push the pastry into place, including up the sides of the tart tin. Sod that for a game of gravity defying soldiers. It's polenta pastry so quite friable, yes, but the solution is to roll it out when cold between two sheets of baking paper.

You don't need a kilo of figs, unless your figs are the size of acorns. That's just over 500g up there. How would you get more in?

Thirdly, he doesn't include nearly enough goats cheese (goats' cheese/goat's cheese - still not sure) in the mix. He suggests 75g mixed with 150ml of double cream; I did 120g but I think it needs at least double - maybe 200g mixed with 250ml of cream. Also, season the cream. It needs it.

Worse, he tells you to bake it and then flash grill it. He neglects to mention that you need to leave the tart to cool for at least an hour else you get tarte aux fig-wet-with-the-memory-of-goats-cheese, leaving you weeping at the sight of your expensive chèvre draining away like lactose lava.

Finally, a disagreement rather than a criticism, I found honey too sweet a glaze (and mine was a special live honey brought back from Borneo by Fabian). I'm thinking of a fruit glaze of something tart/sweet like redcurrant or maybe gooseberry.

And do watch it like a tart watching hawk when it's under the grill. High fat nuts and pastry will blacken fast (see above!).

I served this with a simple rocket salad dressed with lemon and balsamic. I'm toying with a rasher garnish of crispy pancetta to but at my gathering of friends I was in a minority of one on this.

So this will be featuring on a menu near you soon (well, near me) but wearing slightly different shoes to this.

And finally... Daisy and Sally... when are you going to 'get your arses in gear'? Soon would be good.

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