of which you are aware." ~ Agnes Martin
The earth is quietly opening up around here. Today I looked at the teeny buds on the lilac bush in the front yard, and on the apple and plum trees behind the house. Tentative first steps of the beauty that lies ahead. It's been a warmer than usual spring. Typically there should still be snow lingering, but it's been gone for a couple of weeks now. Even the grass is beginning to turn green, and the cats couldn't be happier. Their little mouths chomp down voraciously on the fresh chlorophyll until they eat too much and...we all know what happens when cats eat too much grass. I too have the spring fever and can't wait to don a new pair of garden gloves and begin peeling back the layers of mulch in the flower beds. I'm always pleased to see the fresh growth underneath. I silently congratulate the perennials for surviving another bitter winter. Like us locals, they too deserve a pat on the back for enduring another multi-month Saskatchewan deep freeze. As the cats roamed the perimeter, I sat in one of the dusty patio chairs hauled out from the garage and turned my face towards the sun (I wasn't even wearing a jacket!) grateful for another season of fresh, happy starts.
Figs are one of those fruits I don't buy very often; mainly because I just don't see them at my local grocer's. When they are in stock, I snap them up like crazy. This past Saturday afternoon I wandered around my giant supermarket, squealed a little (and got some funny looks) when I saw the figs, and immediately a tart came to mind. I know that figs and goat cheese love each other, as do honey and thyme. I made the rounds, got the rest of my ingredients and I knew I had a disc of pastry in the freezer at home that needed to be used up. I love it when a plan comes together! Especially when that plan is a tart.
Cutting into a fresh fig is a thing of beauty. The outside is fairly unimpressive, but the inside is something else entirely. Mother nature gets a high five for that one. Assembly is fairly straight forward. Roll pastry roughly into a circle - remember it's rustic so don't stress - spread goat cheese, top with sliced figs, fold in edges, tuck in a few thyme sprigs, drizzle with honey and bake until it's golden. The result is a jammy, cheesy, beautiful arrangement inside flaky pastry with herbaceous notes thanks to the thyme. Not terribly sweet, it goes quite lovely with a mug of something steamy and gripped in the hand. I savoured the first slice sitting on my dusty old patio chair, with the warm air kissing my cheeks as spring said hello.
Rustic Fig & Honey Goat Cheese Tart
1 disc of pastry (I use this recipe)
9 fresh black mission figs, stem removed vertically cut into 1/4 inch slices
4 oz (120 grams) goat cheese, softened
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp sea salt
honey for drizzling
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Preheat oven to 375*F.
Roll out pastry on a lightly floured work surface into an 8 inch circle. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. In a small bowl, mix together the softened goat cheese, honey, thyme leaves and salt. Gently spread about half of this onto the pastry, leaving about a 2 inch border. Arrange fig slices on top of goat cheese and dollop remaining goat cheese mixture on top of figs. Fold the pastry over the edge of figs. Tuck in a few thyme sprigs, drizzle with honey. Place in oven on lowest rack and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for another 12 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving. Makes 4-6 servings.