It’s fig season. I can tell because every second stall at the farmers’ market seems to have a basket offering plump & juicy figs. We have a large fig tree at the bottom of the garden, however, not your average fig tree fruiting in late January. I know that is not unusual, but what is surprising is that the tree often fruits a second time in April. Not every single year, this year was an off-year but we got a large harvest in January so am not complaining. I am sure it’s not that unusual for a fig tree to fruit twice it will likely be the variety but as the tree is over 20 years old and we didn’t actually plant it I have no hope in finding out to tell you. If you an heirloom fruit tree enthusiast and know the answer, please share so I can tell people when they ask.
So when fig season comes around at the market I am not that overly excited having had our fill in January. Although… there are two types of figs that I keep my eagle-eyes peeled for at the markets. Black Mission Figs, are my all time favourite fig. They are small-sized with a deep purple almost black skin and a gorgeous red inside. I rarely see them and if I do, I pounce on them as excited as a kid in a candy store [do kids really get excited in a candy store – mine haven’t been into one yet]. My other fav fig is the crimson-fleshed Macedonian, it looks like your average honey-fleshed fig variety until opened to reveal its intensely coloured centre. I must annoy stall holders as I come up and ask them what colour flesh their figs have, then politely turn them down when they don’t say red. They must think I am a fig snob, which I guess I am but only because we have the sweet honey-fleshed variety ourselves and I really find it difficult to buy something if we already grow it in the garden.
A while back I shared a photo on INSTAGRAM of a Chocolate + Blackberry Tart I made for a dinner party. I had every intention of sharing it here in the following weeks, however time got away from me with several exciting projects on the go, and our blackberries came to a finish without me even noticing. I know I am busy when I don’t notice the seasonal garden changes. So I am sharing this fig tart which is very similar to the blackberry tart just without the chocolate drizzle. You could drizzle over melted 70% chocolate if desired. I also lined the base of the blackberry tart with chocolate by simply pouring a little of the melted chocolate into the chilled base, then swirling it around as it set to coat the base. So simple and the hidden chocolate layer was a welcome surprise.
Cooking Workshops & Events Website.
One of the projects taking up my time recently is the launch of my Homegrown Kitchen Cooking Workshops. I have finalised the workshop series for Term Two 2014 in Nelson with a new website launched last week containing info about the workshops and events and for online bookings. Check it out HERE.
I have been completely overwhelmed by the interest and response to running these again, not just in Nelson but further afield around New Zealand. With two young children and being a mostly full-time Mum I am starting things slowly but hope to visit a few main centres later in the year. To keep from clogging up the blog up with workshop notices I have also set up a new *Workshops & Events* mailing list. Subscribers will be the first to hear about upcoming events and can book a place before I share on the blog and social media. If you are interested make sure you join up HERE to be in the know. I can’t wait!
And now the recipe…
The base and filling can be made the day before, adding the fruit at the last minute before serving. You can also use any selection of seasonal fruit such as berries, stone fruit, passion fruit, pears etc. Although this tart is small it will serve about 8 people; it is rich, so small slices more than satisfy.
1/2 cup / 75g cashews
cold water for soaking
1 tablespoon raw honey
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil (optional)
1-2 tablespoons water, if needed
1 cup / 150g raw almonds
1/2 cup / 50g desiccated coconut
1/3 cup / 60g dates (soft medjool type dates work best)
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
Pinch of salt
6 fresh figs, quartered
approx. 1 tablespoon runny honey to drizzle
- First put the cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Leave to soak for a minimum of 2 hours but preferably overnight to soften the cashews.
- Grease a 20cm round tart tin (with a removable bottom) or similar sized dish with coconut oil.
- In a food processor, grind the almonds and coconut into a course meal (this will take about 1 minute). Roughly chop the dates and add to the nuts along with the coconut oil and salt. (Note: if your dates are quite hard, soften in hot water for 5 minutes then thoroughly drain in a sieve shaking off excess water.) Process until the dates are broken up and the mixture holds together when gently squeezed between your fingers. Tip into the tart dish and press evenly and firmly into the tin. Chill the base while preparing the filling.
- Drain and rinse the cashews thoroughly in a sieve. Put the cashews into the food processor (no need to clean after making the base, just scrap it out well), along with the remaining ingredients, except water. Process for 2 minutes stopping to scrap down the sides several times. The aim is to achieve a smooth-as-possible texture so add a little water if needed to thin the mixture. Only add a small amount of water at a time as you don’t want a runny filling. The smoothness will also depend on the power of your food processor. I use a standard food processor so can’t get a super-smooth filling compared to using a powerful blender that committed raw-foodist will have on hand. Just do the best with what you have. Pour into the base and smooth the top. Chill for at least 2 hours in the fridge to set.
- To serve, decorate with the quartered figs in concentric circles and drizzle with the runny honey. Note: if your honey is thick, warm it in a cup sitting in a bowl of hot water until drizzle-able. Share this divine tart with friends.