May 1st

Talk about sliding in on a banana peel screaming “I made it!” But then again…..that seems to be me these days. Tardiness is my second name – when it comes to blogging that is!  When I saw on Cooksister! blog that Jeanne was hostessing the Monthly Mingle for April and that her choice was “Topless Tarts”  I was pretty excited because just a couple of days before I read her post I had actually made a savoury tart/quiche for my bookclub which I hosted in April…yes, I have to say “in April” because today is already May! Can you believe that??? We are almost at the half mark for the year and personally my head is spinning. Way way too fast for me. My days seem to pass in a blur. I have never been as busy as I am at the moment and I am battling to manage my time. All of a sudden I am “working”, even though I am at home all day and not leaving at 7 or 8am and returning at 5pm. My day is taken up with emails and social networking, liasing with sponsors, meeting with others, lots and lots of communication. It has also been holiday time here in SA with lots of long weekends and public holidays in between so I have done my share of grandson sitting as well. Result? Very little to no time left for blogging. Food blogging involves photographing food that you have cooked. Photography involves editing. Then there is the writing. I just don’t get around to it as I would like to. I have folders and folders of photographs waiting for me to edit.  Hence my reason for now skidding up to the finish line triumphantly hoisting high my post for Topless Tarts! And I am only skidding in because the deadline of 30 April was extended until midnight tonight 🙂 Thank you Jeanne, I know you say you inherited your own tardiness from your blogmamma hehe!

Anyway, on to my Topless Tart. It was my turn to host our monthly bookclub and I always like to make a savoury and a sweet tart for the occasion. This time I had in my arsenal errr fridge a packet of pancetta that I had been given to sample by Richard Bosman, Mr Charcuterie as I like to call him. So I started thinking about what I could make with the sliced pancetta and, besides things like pasta and other delicious dishes that I could come up with I really wanted to use it in my tart. I also happened to have some plump beautiful fresh figs that I had picked up at the market a couple of days earlier and a wedge of  Blue Tower cheese! A delectable image started forming in my brain of  ‘the tart’.  Add some caramelized onions and fresh thyme from my patio herb pots and I was good to go.

This is what I came up with:


400g Shortcrust Pastry – you can use bought but I like to use  my own very easy recipe

100g Sliced Pancetta – each slice cut in half

1 Wedge Blue Tower Cheese – or any other type of mould cheese that you prefer

6 to 8 Fresh Figs – washed and halved – keep 1 whole for the middle

10ml Runny Honey

2 Large Onions – peeled and finely sliced

20ml Olive Oil

5ml Butter

1tsp Brown Sugar

3 sprigs Thyme – leaves only

5ml Chocolate Balsamic Creme – I was fotunate to get a bottle of this as a gift from Jamie when she visited from France in February (grate a bit of dark chocolate into your onions if you dont have and use 5ml normal balsamic)

Freshly cracked Black Pepper

2 Eggs

100ml Milk

50ml Cream

5ml Dijon Mustard

Salt & black pepper to season

To make the pie

Preheat the oven to 200deg Celcius

Defrost (if frozen) the pasty then roll out to the correct size, line you pastry dish, prick all over with a fork then blind bake the pie crust for about 15 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.

Set aside until you need it. (Follow baking instructions here if you have never used pastry before)  Leave the oven at 200deg Celcius

Place a deep frying pan over a low to medium heat, add the oil and butter then gently saute the onions and thyme until they are soft and translucent and start browning – about 10 minutes or so

Add the balsamic (grated chocolate if you are using it) and sugar, stir in and continue caramelizing over a low heat until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are a dark caramelized brown

In the meanwhile make the custard by beating the eggs together with the mustard, milk and cream, season with a bit of salt and pepper

Spread the onions around to cover the base of the pastry case

Pour over the custard filling

Set your sliced figs around in the pattern that you want. Cut the whole fig through into quarters but not right through the bottom. Squeeze the fig open into a flower and place it in the centre of the tart

Crumble the Blue Tower cheese over the top of the filling

Layer the pancetta prettily over the top, sprinkle on a few sprigs of thyme then drizzle with the honey

Grind some black pepper over  then bake for about 20 minutes until the pancetta is crispy and the custard just set

Serve at room temperature or warm.

I served mine topped with some fresh baby Italian rocket leaves from my herb pots and it was delicious!

 So join me for a slice over at Topless Tarts the April Monthly Mingle, an event that was started by Meeta and which is hosted by Jeanne this month.

I reckon there are going to be some awesome topless tarts hanging around her blog right now.

Good company to keep? 😉

Enjoy! And have a good week!

browniegirl xx


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