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When she has the kitchen all to herself, Phyllis Grant of Dash and Bella cooks beautiful iterations of what solo meals were always meant to be: exactly what you want, when and where you want them.
Today: Make this tart for dinner tonight with late season figs. Make it again tomorrow.
What’s for dinner?
A fig and blue cheese tart.
He drops to the kitchen floor, pounds his fists, flip flop flails his 6-year-olds legs. I armpit-drag him up. There are real tears sliding down his face. He looks me in the eye and throws down the gauntlet.
If you don’t stop making tarts, I’ll run away.
Dash, I’m never ever going to stop making tarts.
He sulks off to the living room to practice his en garde-attack-riposte.
I lure him back into the kitchen with Pirate’s Booty and Mango Tango. He cuts a few figs. I grab some cinnamon sugar. He crumbles the blue cheese. I wordlessly slide over a pile of puff pastry scraps. He mushes and twists and pours and sprinkles and announces tada mama I’ve made a cinnamon sugar honey pie not a tart but a pie because it’s folded over you see. We bake it up alongside my fig tart.
I stay away from his pie.
He stays away from my tart.
Things to know before you start baking:
You can use any kind of figs. I love Kadota because of their color, flavor, and the fact that they’re a bit less sweet. The figs can be firm or soft or a combination of both. Let go. It’s okay for this tart to be a bit of a mess. You can skip the cheese. Or add pine nuts. Maybe drape pancetta or prosciutto over the figs. I strongly advise that you serve this tart with a crisp green salad drenched in a powerful vinaigrette.
You can make classic puff pastry (and, omfg, you are my hero if you do!). Or you can do Ashley Rodriguez’s Shortcut to Puff Pastry (and you’re still my hero). Or you can do what I did and head to the freezer section of your local grocery story and buy puff pastry. Pepperidge Farms is great. Dufour is my favorite (it’s a bit pricey but hella worth the splurge).
There’s no need to spend a lot of money on fancy balsamic, but you should avoid using thin vinegar as it will make the pastry soggy. I make mine thick by reducing down a bottle of inexpensive balsamic (just boil until half is gone). Another option for this recipe is to use Alice Medrich’s Honey Balsamic Sauce (in other words, combine your vinegar and honey into one easy drizzle).
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed but still cool
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 to 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 pound figs
1 teaspoon salt (I used grey)
1 tablespoon thick balsamic vinegar
1 to 2 tablespoons honey (the darker and more flavorful the better)
1/3 cup firm blue cheese, crumbled (I used Wisconsin, but go more intense if you like)
Photos by Phyllis Grant