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May 1, 2011

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

21 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2011 11:00 PM

    Oh my giddy aunt, Colly, this is one amazing tart my friend!! Mmmmm, lipsmackingly good!

  2. May 2, 2011 12:05 AM

    This looks, sounds and I am sure smelled AND tasted divine. I am so in love with figs and bacon and cheese…you call it tart, I do it with pizza…but all in all, just a glorious combination of ingredients.

    Seems I need to get Jamie to come visit. Chocolate balsamic? To. Die. For.

    • May 3, 2011 8:38 PM

      LOL! It was a classic combo, the caramelized onions with the little hit of chocolate was just fantastistic. Yep, Jamie had some superb gifts for me from France hehe…Don’t tell her I said so 🙂 Thank you Barb xx

  3. May 2, 2011 6:10 AM

    It is both beautiful and delicious, a stunning entry into the mingle 🙂 Love you xxx

  4. May 2, 2011 6:42 AM

    Wow Colleen, a very impressive tart. I must say that the chocolate element intrigues me, as I wouldnt have paired it with with blue cheese.

    I would have loved to tsate this.

    • May 3, 2011 8:40 PM

      Thank you Sam, it was just the slightest hint of chocolate and it was delicious with the blue cheese and other taste elements in this tart. Worth a try….xx

  5. May 2, 2011 7:02 AM

    really pretty. don’t even eat meat and my mouth waters! yikes! who am i!??

    • May 3, 2011 8:41 PM

      HAHA! Thank you for that compliment Sana. Hope your confusion was just momentary…you can leave the meat out of this tart easily by the way….xx

  6. May 2, 2011 7:30 AM

    What a decadent tart/quiche! Sadly tough I don’t enjoy blue cheese – not to worry, my hubby makes up for it with his love of it.
    🙂 Mandy

    • May 3, 2011 8:43 PM

      Mandy I am a very recent convert and I have to say that I am quite fussy with which blue cheese I eat. I enjoy the Simonzola as it is incredibly mild…and so is the blue tower from Fairview. And I didn’t overdo it. If one enjoys the blue cheese you could put a lot more of it in…you should try it in something like this. Otherwise use camembert or brie. Either would be good too xx

  7. May 3, 2011 4:10 PM

    see my facebook comment. this is just too much. I think I may have to have my lips sewn up!!!!!

    • May 3, 2011 8:44 PM

      HAHA Mel… sorry. Its hell to diet and read food blogs. Im struggling hideously with the same malady so I can empathize…always be sure to have a good bit of food in your belly and some in your hand when you embark on the journey into food blogland xx

  8. May 3, 2011 4:43 PM

    that looks delish, busy studying for exams right now so we are eating whatever we find in the fridge but will give this a try as soon as I can.

    • May 3, 2011 8:46 PM

      When are you ever going to finish those exams?? You always seem to be doing them. I admire you greatly, really I do, I dont think I could do that at this stage of my life. Bet you are looking forward to spending some good time in the kitchen xx

  9. May 3, 2011 10:00 PM

    If only I can find figs in tree is only 40cm high! Looks lovely!

  10. May 5, 2011 6:58 AM

    This is my favourite tart of the mingle – blue cheese, fig and pancetta in a tart…heaven. Qur figs here in Dubai are a bit disappointing (which is strange given we’re in the Middle East!) so demand to be baked. I’m going to look out for chocolate balsamic in Europe this summer – sounds intriguing.

  11. May 16, 2011 9:53 AM

    You had me at chocolate. I am very very intrigued.

  12. pinkpolkadot permalink
    May 22, 2011 6:13 PM

    This also looks sooooo delicious, Brownie!

  13. June 1, 2011 2:45 PM

    Wow…I saw this and my eyes and brain are in overdrive. The chocolate onions have really intrigued me. Love that you cover about every flavor spectrum in this tart. Looks beautiful, and definitely one I want to bookmarked – thank you!

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