Folded Pear Tart

September 9, 2007

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You can make this folded fruit tart with our old standby, the oil-and-ice water crust. Just for fun, though, try a classic pastry. With 10 tablespoons of butter, it’s wonderfully rich. The technique of pressing together the crumbly dough with long, sliding motions is an old French technique called ‘frisage.’ You’re actually layering the shortening and flour in long, thin strands, which makes the crust light and flaky. It takes a little longer than the oil-and-ice water version, but it’s very easy and you’ll be amazed at the results. SAM

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
10 tablespoons cold sweet butter
5 to 6 tablespoons ice water

For the fruit filling:
1 pound ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced
7 ounces dates, pitted and chopped (10)
Juice of 1/2 lemon (1 1/2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fig jam
2 teaspoons cognac
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons light brown sugar or honey
2 tablespoons heavy cream

To make the dough:
In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour and salt and pulse 2 times to mix. Cut the butter into half-inch cubes and distribute evenly over the flour mixture. Pulse until butter is the size of small peas. Stop the processor and sprinkle on 1 tablespoon of ice water. Pulse 1 second. Repeat 1 tablespoon at a time until mixture is crumbly and sticks together when pinched. Turn out onto a marble slab and with a bench knife form the crumbs into a 12- by 4-inch pile with the narrow edge closest to you. With the heel of your palm, press away from you 1/6th of the crumbs on the farthest edge with long, sliding motions. Repeat in sixths until the dough is cohesive. Shape into a 5-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.

To make the filling:
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the dates, fig jam, lemon juice, and cognac. Stir until bubbly. Add the pears and cook until hot, stirring frequently.

To make the tart:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the chilled dough between two lengths of plastic wrap, and with a rolling pin roll, roll it into an 11-inch circle. Peel off one piece of plastic wrap and flip the dough onto a 9-inch pie plate. Peel off the remaining plastic wrap and press the dough into the bottom of the plate, leaving the sides loose. Pile the pear-date mixture in the center, sprinkle with Parmesan and sugar, and fold in the sides, leaving a two-inch center opening. Pour the cream into the center. Bake for 1 hour or until browned and bubbly. Serve with vanilla ice cream, heavy cream, or crème frâiche.
Makes 8 servings.

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Fig Jam

September 8, 2007

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If you’re lucky enough to have access to fresh figs, this easy, stir-together jam is a treat. The recipe comes from Emily’s friend Cindy, the gifted cook. She suggests serving it on breakfast toast or as an appetizer with Manchego cheese or any other tasty hard cheese. But there are other wonderful things you can do with fig jam. Tomorrow, we’re using it to sweeten a Pear Tart. YUM! SAM

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 pounds ripe fresh figs, trimmed and quartered
2 (3- by 1-inch) strips fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted

I a large heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the sugar and water, simmering and stirring, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the figs, zest, and lemon juice and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until syrupy, 1 3/4 to 2 hours. It may not get thick in the pan but will set up in the fridge. Add the sesame seeds. Store in a clean, tightly covered container in the fridge for 1 month.
Makes 3 1/2 cups.