Friday, June 24, 2011

A Rustic Cottage and a Rustic Tart (with Wine-Soaked Figs)

A few weekends ago, I ventured north, up to the Catskills, where I met my friends Diane, Becky, and Ryan in this rustic cottage, aka Zenobia, for an artists' retreat/non-NELP NELP (we have all taught there together, but not this year). The other three were staying for the week, but having just started a new job in D.C., I could only be there for le weekend.

Me, spreading pyllo for spanakopita, Becky at the stove

On Saturday night, Becky and I took on dinner-- a pie night, of sorts-- with spanakopita and roasted asparagus and butternut squash with pecans on the savory side of things, and a rustic tart-- to go with our rustic cabin-- for dessert.

Alice Bradley was the principal of Fannie Farmer's School of Cookery

Initially I just set out to make a strawberry-rhubarb rustic tart, but as Becky and I were chopping vegetables, Ryan read to us from this book-- The Alice Bradley Menu Cookbook, from 1937. Alice organized her cookbook into menus for 3-meals a day for an entire year!

As Ryan read over a menu that included a fig tart, we got to thinking...we had some dried figs in the house, and thought they'd make a nice addition to the strawberry and rhubarb. Since we were in the woods, sans internet, I had to approximate a recipe, but here is basically what I did...

Strawberry-Rhubarb and Wine-Soaked Fig Rustic Tart

Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
2 c. strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 c. rhubarb, chopped
2 c. (or approximately 6-8) dried figs
1/2-1c. red wine
1 c. sugar
3 Tblsp. cornstarch (can use arrowroot)
1 egg, beaten
1-2 Tblsp. Turbinado sugar (for dusting)

1. Soak figs in 1/2- 1c. red wine for at least one hour. Meanwhile, prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. When figs are adequately soaked, chop them, and combine with chopped rhubarb and sliced strawberries in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 c. sugar and 3 Tblsp. cornstarch. 

3. Roll out pie crust into a 10-11-inch circle on a cookie sheet. Scoop filling onto the center of the pie crust. Spread, leaving a 2-in. border. Fold edges of pie crust over filling. Brush and seal with an egg wash. Sprinkle Turbinado sugar over the entire tart. 

4. Place in oven for 10 minutes at 425, then lower heat to 375 and let bake for approximately 30 minutes longer, or until crust is golden brown and filling starts to bubble. Serve with vanilla ice cream or homemade whipped cream.

Play Bananagrams while you wait for the tart to bake!

The finished tart was incredibly delicious, particularly with the addition of the seeded figs. I'd call it a new favorite. More importantly, it was so nice to be back in the kitchen, reading books, and making jokes again with these three smarty pants.

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