Archive for the 'Appetisers' Category

Caramelised onion, fig, blue cheese and thyme tart.

You know the story. You come home after a long/stressful/<insert other words here> day and the last thing on your mind is a complicated, long-winded dish to make. Luckily, there are some dishes which take very little preparation time, taste great and look fantastic. This tart is one of those dishes. It has all the ingredients I love and is almost embarrassingly simple to make. The most difficult part of the tart is cooking the onions. Seriously! There are many examples of this out there so I won’t bother posting a recipe (call me lazy). Here’s one you can use. This particular recipe uses phyllo pastry but I substituted that with puff pastry. Shortcrust would work just as well, me thinks. You can replace the blue cheese for other types that you like. I would go for goat’s cheese or parmesan but brie or camembert would be fine too. The tart would make a nice entree (or appetiser, depending on which side your bread’s buttered on, ie. country you’re from) or it could easily be a main course with a salad on the side.
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Caramelised onion and fig tart

 

Grilled figs

Fresh figs

Okay, I finally succumbed and splurged on some figs. At A$3 each (I bought 4), they weren’t exactly the cheapest fruit but I just had to get some! It’s strange – actually more an abomination since I forked out so much money – that these fruit cost the earth. I guess it’s to do with the fact that they are fragile and easily bruised. You can’t harvest them with a machine like apples or oranges. At least I don’t think so. Everytime I drive by a fig tree with fruit ready for the picking, I’m filled with jealousy and my thoughts turn into those of a thief, wondering when I could return and steal some before the darn birds get to them. My sister does have a tree in her backyard and has given me some before because she doesn’t like them! Well, I’m not complaining… Trouble is, I’ve recently moved to another state.

If I had some blue cheese around I would not have hesitated for one moment and eaten the two together. Figs with blue cheese is a classic combination and the flavour of the two is just divine. Another classic partner of figs is prosciutto. The cheese I did have was mascarpone. Some quick research work yielded some simple recipes which utilised this with figs. A few recipes included a balsamic vinegar reduction which sounded fantastic.

Grilled figs with mascarpone and balsamic vinegar

Serves 4

4 large, or 8 small, ripe figs
100g mascarpone
100ml balsamic vinegar

Preheat grill. Wash and pat dry the figs. Make two perpendicular cuts in the form of an X halfway into each fig. Place on baking paper and grill for 2-3 minutes until figs are nice and soft but not mushy. Transfer to a serving plate. At this stage, you can continue the cuts almost all the way down to the base so the figs open up like a flower. Or leave the figs like I did.

Pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low. Continue simmering until reduced to a third.

Scoop mascarpone onto plate and drizzle balsamic reduction around. You could also spread mascarpone on top of the figs if they were cut into a flower shape.

Grilled figs

I liked the flavour combinations here a lot. The sweetness of the figs was tempered by the acidity of the balsamic reduction and the mascarpone added richness. For me, the grilling didn’t add anything special. Next time, I would just have the figs fresh.

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