Last week I had the pleasure of doing some catering for a client who had just bought a vineyard here in the south of France – about 30 minutes west of here – where the glitz and glam of the Cote d”Azur gives way to the lavender and poppy fields of Provence.
It’s easy to become complacent about where we live. If you are as lucky as I am to live in a beautiful place, after a while that beauty seems normal. But every now and then something prompts us to see our surroundings with the eyes we had as newcomers. When that happens I am amazed at how lucky I am to be living here in France!
This catering job was one of those moments. The brief for the job was that the clients would be having a celebratory picnic amongst the vines of their new vineyard. The only prerequisite to the menu was that it needed to be easily transportable – by donkey.
But of course.
When I set about planning the menu I imagined the lucky guests sitting on red and white checked blankets, sipping rosé, surrounded by vines and the scent of Provence. (I almost asked for an invite myself but I chickened out. I did get some lovely wine though to enjoy!)
Dessert was an easy decision. I can think of no other dessert that reminds me more of summer in the South of France than this tart. My garden – and those of most of my neighbors – yields figs, lemons and rosemary in the summer months- and we are in the suburbs, not even the country. What better way to enjoy the fruits of thy garden!
This recipe definitely leans toward the side of naughty but if you can’t celebrate when buying a vineyard then what’s the point!
Ching, ching. Cheers!
- 1½ cups/195g all purpose flour (TypeOO)
- ½ cup cornmeal or semolina
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 stick/1/2 cup/115 g cold butter, cut into pieces
- 1½ tablespoons chopped rosemary
- 4-5 tablespoons ice water
For the filling:
- ⅓ cup creme fraiche or sour cream
- 1 cup mascarpone
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1½ tsp packed grated lemon zest
- ⅛ tsp salt
- 2 tablespoons raspberry jam
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1½ lbs/ 680g fresh figs, sliced into rounds
- Place the flour, cornmeal or semolina, sugar and salt in a food processor. (Alternatively you can cut the pastry with a pastry cutter or 2 knives). Add the rosemary and cold butter while pulsing the food processor and continue to pulse until pea-size balls begin to form. Drizzle in 4 tablespoons of the ice water and pulse until dough is beginning to clump together.You want the dough to hold shape when squeezed into a ball. If this is not happening you can add a little bit more ice water.
- Form the dough into a disk and roll out with a rolling pin to form a circle a couple inches larger than the diameter of your tart pan. Press the dough into the pan and allow it to slightly hang over the edges. Roll the rolling pin over the edge of the pan to trim the dough. Chill dough in fridge for 30 min.
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
- Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes and then allow to cool on a rack.
For the filling:
- Combine the creme fraiche, mascarpone, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a mixer and blend until smooth.
- Fill tart with the cream mixture.
- Arrange the figs in decorative circles around the tart.
- Combine the jam and honey in a small saucepan over low heat until syrupy.
- Brush the syrup over the figs.
- Serve and enjoy!