Fig tart

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This tart is my way of saying goodbye to summer. I am always a bit sad when the summer leaves and September rains bring the cold and grayish autumn days. Everything is better about summer-the long and sunny days, the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, vacations to switch off and recharge, the golden beaches in my hometown and swimming in the sea…and so many other fun things ūüôā Well, I’ve already come to terms with the fact that it cannot last forever but wanted to give myself a last feel of ¬†summer gorgeousness. While picking the last figs off the tree in my garden I knew I will have to give them a good treat…something like complimenting their luscious sweetness with a flaky crust and a delicate pastry cream.¬†Fresh figs are a thing of beauty aren’t they?!

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Ingredients:

For the crust:

3 cups plain flour

3 tablespoons sugar

125 g unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

50 g margarine, chilled and cut into small pieces

6 tablespoons ice water

A pinch of salt

For the pastry cream:

3 large egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 cup cornstarch

1 1/2 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the figs topping:

About 20 figs, halved

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

Put the¬†flour, sugar and¬†salt in a large bowl ¬†and whisk to combine. Add the butter and margarine and mix with your hands until the mixture resembles coarse meal. To do this you can use a food processor, if you have one. I don’t so I pretty much rely on my hands :-). Gradually add the ice water (fill a cup with water and add ice cubes) and mix until moist clumps form. If the dough needs more water, add a tablespoons or two. Turn the dough out onto your work surface and form into a ball. Flatten it into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 2 hours.

In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, half of the sugar, all of the cornstarch, half of the milk and set aside. In a saucepan combine the remaining milk and sugar, vanilla extract and lemon zest and bring to a simmer. Gradually pour the milk, whisking constantly, into the egg mixture to temper it. Strain the custard mixture  back to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.Boil for 10-15 seconds whisking constantly to get a pudding-like consistency. When done whisk in the butter. Cover  the saucepan with plastic wrap and let it chill for an hour.

Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough to a 40 cm round, about 0.35 cm thick.  Using your rolling pin place the dough into a 30 cm tart pan and trim the excess dough so that it fits slightly above the rim of the pan.

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Preheat your oven to 200 C. Spread the chilled pastry cream over the pie shell and arrange the halved figs on top.

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Brush the figs with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until the pastry is cooked through and the figs are caramelized. Let the tart cool before serving.

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If you are into flaky crusts, topped with glazed fruits you will love this! A true summer treat!

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Polish plum cake

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My hubby came home today with a bag full of plums and got me wondering how I could use all of them without getting into the marmalade making business. My hubby is the fruits buyer in the family and I am lucky to have him taking care of this important task. Funnily we’ve divided subconsciously our roles as far as food shopping is concerned. ¬†I am in charge of the meat, cheese and veggies shelves¬†while he constantly eyes the fruits ūüôā

I had some plums for breakfast but it became clear fairly quickly that I had to crank up my oven and bake. Normally I’d go for the upside-down cake but I didn’t feel like it. My quick online research led me to a simple yet mega yummy recipe presented by food writer¬†Ren Behan. She is of Polish decent and shared this family recipe, passed down from mother to daughter.

Let me tell you, this Polish plum cake is a bomb! If you’ve got some Italian prune plums start baking now, you will love its tender texture paired with a right hint of plums’ tartness. Just gorgeous!

Ingredients:

10-12 fresh plums

One cup/200 g granulated sugar

4 large eggs, at room temperature

220 ml vegetable oil

200 ml plain yoghurt

2 heaped cups of plain flour

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

1 package vanilla sugar

1 package baking powder

Powder sugar for dusting (optional)

Pre-heat your oven to 190 C. Grease and dust lightly with flour a 30 cm pan. Chop the plums into halves, remove the stones and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until the mixture starts to thicken.  Add gradually the oil, vanilla sugar, whisking continually until the mixture is pale and creamy. Add in the lemon zest and yoghurt. Sift the flour and mix with the baking powder. Gently fold the flour into the eggs mixture with a metal spoon until all the flour is fully incorporated. Pour the batter into the pan and gently press the plums into the top. I sprinkled a little sugar on top of each plum to get them caramelized . Bake for 35-40 or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake, comes out clean. Cool for 15-20 minutes before serving.

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I am glad I’ve come across this wonderful family recipe, it will become part of the baking tradition in my family too.

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Chicken shish kebabs

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Hey there friends, hope you are having a great summer! Are you cooking and savouring some delicious summer dishes? As for me, I never stop enjoying my favourite season and the bountiful produce it brings! I am looking forward to get to my home town later this month and have fish..every day..for days…I am missing it, a lot! But for now I am content with what I have here and I never get bothered to come up with new flavourful dishes.

Are you short of lunch ideas today? Skewer up some goodness with these amazing chicken shish kebabs. They are quick to prepare and when paired with some vegetables make a scrumptious,  healthy and great all-in-one meal.  I had people coming for lunch today and I grilled 12 skewers but you can reduce the amount as per your needs.

Ingredients:

1 kg boneless chicken breasts

2 medium sized zucchini

2 medium sized eggplants

1 red onion

2 red peppers

Chicken marinade:

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

3 tablespoons soya sauce

3 tablespoons olive  oil

Freshly squeezed juice of half a lemon

Cut the chicken breasts into small pieces and marinate with the olive oil, soya sauce, salt and ground pepper, lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Leave in the fridge for an hour to enable the chicken chunks soak all the goodness.  Soak the kebab skewers in cold water for at least 10 minutes, then dry them up.  In the meantime cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-sized chunks. Salt the cut eggplant and let it sit for 1/2 hour to leach out water and bitterness. Cut the onion and the red pepper into small pieces. In a larger bowl combine all the vegetables, add salt and a drizzle of olive oil.

Preheat a clean, oiled grill over medium high heat. To assemble the kebabs start alternating, chicken chunks, pepper, red onion, eggplants and zucchini.  Grill the kebabs for 12-15 minutes turning occasionally and brushing with reserved marinade. When the chicken juices run clear it indicates that it has cooked through. If there are remaining vegetables, grill them as well, they make a perfect side dish. I served the kebabs over mashed potatoes.

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Enjoy!

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