Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I've never wanted a piece of art so badly...

Autistic artist Stephen Wiltshire took a twenty-minute helicopter ride over Manhattan. Then he sketched the entire skyline from memory. Every building was correct and drawn to scale. Having taught Autistic students for three years in NYC his art holds a special place in my heart. What an incredible artist and person!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Blackberry Farm Fig Tart

With work, school and Halloween festivities I haven't been very good about cooking and posting. Lets hope this weekend I slow down, breath and remedy my uninspired posts. If I do have some time this recipe will be the first thing I tackle. I absolutely adore Figs and have been to Blackberry Farm to witness first hand the incredible culinary skill of Sam Beall. The Blackberry Farm Cookbook is available for purchase on amazon.


  • 1/2 recipe basic pastry (recipe below)
  • 1/4 cup fig jam
  • 1 pound fresh figs, stemmed and halved lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk

(Makes eight servings)


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly butter a baking sheet and set it aside.

2. Divide the pastry in half. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece of dough into a 9-inch circle. Place the pastry on the prepared baking sheet; overlapping the two circles a little on one side is okay as the edges will be folded in later. Spread 2 tablespoons of jam evenly over each piece of pastry, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Arrange the figs over the jam. Cover the tarts with plastic wrap and set them aside.

3. In a small saucepan, cook 1/3 cup of the sugar over medium-high heat without stirring until it melts and turns amber in color. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in the cream and butter, stirring until the mixture is smooth. Brush the tops of the figs with the caramel mixture. Fold the edge of the pastry over the outer edge of the figs, pleating the dough to hold it in place.

4. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg mixture and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon of sugar. Bake for about 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the figs are just tender. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into generous wedges.

Basic Pastry

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons shortening
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 to 3 tablespoons ice water
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

(Makes pastry for two 9- or 10-inch pie shells or one double-crust 9-inch pie)

1. Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to a medium bowl and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, 1/3 cup of the ice water, and the vinegar. Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture and stir with a fork just until the dough comes together. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently into a ball. Divide the ball in half and flatten each piece into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap each disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 days; the dough can also be frozen for up to 6 months and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to using.