Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UnRecipe: These Tarts are Plum-Tasty, Y'all

Howdy, pard'ners. It's another rootin' tootin' post about delicious grub. This here post is about how plum-tasty Italian plums are when baked in a tart. GAH. I can't write like that beyond two sentences, so that's all I'll make anyone endure in a faux stereotypical cowboy voice. But Italian plums, the smaller, egg-shaped cousins of the more typical round plums one sees in the produce aisles, are a nice seasonal ingredient to take advantage of in the waning months of our fading summer light. I used the wisdom of the Foodie Wizardress of OZ, Donna Hay, to inspire this post about Roasted Plums in a Goat Cheese Tart.

You saucy little tart, you! - Photo by Wasbi Prime

Ms. Hay's recipe featured figs -- something I wholly agree with, but I wanted to take advantage of my new personal produce dealer and fellow blogger, Ms. Picket Fence, who has been so kind to the Wasabi household by sharing fruits of her garden bounty. Sounds naughty, but it's really quite nice of her and Mr. Picket Fence to have given us such delicious treats, some of which that have already been featured in previous posts. This delivery of goodies included a bowlful of Italian plums, freshly picked from their backyard tree. They were a glorious deep reddish purple, almost black, with the dusty pale finish plums get when they ripen. Slicing each one open to reveal a luscious canary-yellow interior, the pits easily popped out (to my relief, as there were quite a few to split!), and the halves were placed on a baking sheet to roast on a high heat until softened. I roasted the figs ahead of time because I knew they would give off a bit of liquid and I didn't want them waterlogging the tart as it baked. It's an extra step, I know, but it's worth it, and it really concentrates the flavor down to a delicious, caramelized intensity.

Fresh Italiano Picket Fence plums and just-baked tart, prior to its om-nommy demise. - Photos by Wasabi Prime

Cheater Confessional: I was keen to have my way with this tart, so I took a shortcut and bought premade pie dough crust. The Horror. I know, I know -- making your own pâte brisée, including leaf lard in the dough, would be the way to go to make the ultimate savory tart. And when I'm not doing this after work during the middle of a busy week, I will at some point attempt a proper lardy-good pie dough crust, as it really is something I've always wanted to try. But during the weekday shuffle, I chose one shortcut to trade out for roasted plum goodness.

Food blogging Hail Marys aside, I took the quickie pie dough and divided the two rounds across the mini tart pans I have. I don't know why I have these bitty tins and not one giant one. I've admitted in old posts that I have a bizarre love for miniature and individual-sized portions. They also cook up faster, which is a bonus. I did a blind bake, docking the bottoms with a fork and letting it partially bake in the the oven while I mixed the custard filling. The recipe doesn't call for this, but I just like doing it because I find it creates a nice moisture barrier and keeps the crust bottom crispy.

I found the inspiration recipe for Donna Hay's fig tart on her website, which I copied below, but you should see her photo, as it's quite lovely and way prettier than mine. Swapping the figs for roasted plums, and using a sprinkle of lemon thyme instead of chives for herbs were the "Un" of this UnRecipe post, otherwise it's almost a real recipe follow. And oh snap, she uses store-bought pie crust too, but it just sounds better when she calls it shortcrust pastry. A good deal nicer-sounding than Krogers Pie Dough, that's for sure.

Once the crusts were partly baked and slightly cooled, I spread the goat cheese in each one and divided the custard between the little regiment of tart tins. The little flattened, roasted plums were arranged on the top, and back into the oven they went. I think this recipe is flexible enough to where you could really add almost anything to it. The plums were nice, as their sweet/sour flavor went well with the creamy goat cheese. I think any roasted stone fruit would go nicely, since they share a similar flavor profile. I think if I did this again with plums, I'll use rosemary or even lavender. The lemon thyme is subtle and was almost lost in the heavier flavors, and strong herbs like rosemary would I think hold up well against the other ingredients. That thought will have to be held for another season, as -- much like the plums -- these summer days are at an end and a new season is about to begin! Happy Fall, y'all!

Fig and Goat's Cheese Tart - Donna Hay Magazine
2 sheets store-bought shortcrust pastry
125g goat's curd* or soft goat's cheese
4 black figs, halved
3 eggs
¾ cup (180ml) single (pouring) cream
1 tablespoon chopped chives
½ cup (20g) finely grated parmesan
sea salt and cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Cut each pastry sheet into 4 squares. Line 8 x lightly greased 8cm-round, fluted tart tins with pastry. Trim excess pastry and lightly prick bases with a fork. Divide the goat’s curd and fig halves between the cases. Place eggs, cream, chives, parmesan, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Pour into cases and bake for 25 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool to room temprature and serve. Makes 8. * Goat’s curd is fresh goat’s cheese available from delicatessens.

* Post Script - Delicious thanks to Tastespotting for posting the photo of the Italian plums! Thanks also to Serious Eats' Photograzing for posting pics of the plums and the tart!

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  1. wow!!! these are a must try...i'm going for the ingredients:)

  2. Yum, these look absolutely delish!!!

  3.! Yeah, fresh plum goes very well with bakery.

  4. This is so funny. The sharing fruits of her garden bounty bit is so funny. lol. There's nothing wrong with using premade crust. I use all the shortcut I can when I cook. I guess I like to eat more:)

  5. Holy moly, the comments came in fast -- thanks so much, guys! Yes, I do love this recipe for its easy ingredient list and the fact that you can easily replace the plums or figs with anything. I may remake this with pears and sprinkle with walnuts.

  6. I've never have Italian plums--you're lucky to have them at your access. Love the sounds of this sweet/savory tart. --Give yourself some credit...your photos are lovely!

  7. Have you submitted these photos to Tastespotting yet? Cause they've got "tastespotting material" written all over them!

    And boy howdy, do they look gooo-ood!

  8. Those plums are beautiful. That photo, the colors... looks like a painting. I'd have to look at them for a couple of days, admiring them before eating them.

  9. nice! the tarts look so pretty. And no shame in using store bought dough...gotta make your life easier sometimes!

  10. I 100% expected this to have bacon in it, you little bacon fiend. The tarts look delicious!

  11. Great photos, there. Plum tarts are delicious.

    I've experimented a little recently with various plum recipes, and I think i've just about got it. The last one was nearly, nearly there, just lacking a little sweetness, but now the season is gone, so no chance to try again until next year.

    Next summer, my plum tart will be world conquering, and it may even have some goat's cheese in it...


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