05 July, 2010
18:26 | Posted by W | Edit Post
When I was about 12 my neighbor across the street, had a fig tree. She was a good friend of mine, Ms.Bowles, and was, at 97, my oldest friend. I would spend hours at her house just talking with her, and I suppose was lucky that she had the patience to spend her retired life entertaining the rambling of a lonely neighborhood girl. But we, dear people are getting off topic. Ms. Bowles had a fig tree and was ironically allergic to figs, and thus would encourage others to take the fruit. I stole a few, trying to eat one raw and then microwaving one with milk, I was left underwhelmed. The fruit was gritty with an odd skin, the flavor was sweet but just mildly so.. To summarize, this was no apple.
Fast forward a decade or so and I find myself faced with black mission figs in my local market... This was one fruit I needed to tackle. The mission fig is a type of fig introduced to the western United States by Franciscan monks and thus were granted their pious name. The mission figs differ from common figs in that they have smaller seeds, grow faster and to a greater size when matured. These figs sport a thin black skin and red flesh; they are fiercely sweet and can be purchased fresh in the summer or dry year round.
I purchased a clam-shell pack of fresh black mission figs at my grocery store for $4.99. Since figs are native to the Mediterranean I thought that a simple filo (phyllo) free-form crostata would pair nicely; in very much the same vein as my cherry crostata. This time instead of marzipan I used goat's cheese, and honey as the glue to keep the fruit down. Slicing the mission figs thinly to top the goat's cheese covered filo crust they were then generously drizzled with honey and baked until the figs became soft and the honey began to bubble. Lovely and light, the figs were perfect and the sour flavor of the goat's cheese helped balance the super sweet combination of figs and honey.
Mediterranean Mission Crostata
- 4 black mission figs, washed and thinly sliced vertically
- 4 oz of soft goat's cheese
Soft is important as it must be spread on top of the filo. If you're working with a drier goats cheese mixing it with honey or cream cheese could help the cheese become more spreadable. You want a good layer of cheese.
- 1/4 pack of filo sheets, layered with butter
- 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp salt
After layering the filo with butter on a greased or papered baking sheet place to the side. Mash your goat's cheese (or mixture of goat's cheese and honey) together in a bowl slightly warming the mixture to a spreadable consistency. Spread the goat's cheese mixture on top of the filo, careful to not tear the sheets. Apply a generous layer of the cheese and fold the edges of the filo up so that the cheese does not run off when melting. Wash and slice your figs thinly, careful to maintain their shape.
Slice using a very sharp knife vertically, keeping the tear-drop shape. This just makes a prettier tart, so don't worry too much.Layer the fig slices in any desired order on top of the goat's cheese. Sprinkle salt onto the top of the figs to bring out their flavor. Drizzle honey generously over the top and place in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees. Bake until the honey begins to bubble on top of the figs and the filo begins to brown. Allow to cool at top with more honey when serving.