Tag Archives: Goats Cheese

Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

We’re in the midst of fig season here in France and I’m loving it. Without a doubt they’re one of my favourite fruits and as we’re relative newbies here only in our second fig season they still feel rather decedent and exotic. Sadly we’re the only people I know of without a single fig tree in the garden so I have to rely on friends and a couple of our holiday home neighbours’ trees to feed my indulgence. I really must get around to planting our own trees next spring.

Last Saturday we were happily invited to my friend Debbie’s house for a spot of fig picking and horsey riding for Francesca. Five kilos later we came home (not counting the umpteen in our tummies). I’m afraid to say I put most of them in the freezer to make into jam when I’ve a little more time on my hands than this week. The rest were made into several batches of these gorgeous wee Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tartlets and a fabulous Fig & Pear Crumble (which I shall be blogging shortly too).

Master J adores his figs too, though they’re not the choicest of foods for a lad going through potty training. Last Autumn I took my daily walk with Jacques-on-my-back past one particular fig tree which he’d scream at as we got closer, screaming for me to pick him some. Funny at first, but the screaming carried on for the subsequent four months until well into January and there was snow on the ground, and each time with me painstakingly trying to explain the figs were all gone and he’d have to wait until next September. Anyway at least September’s come around again and he’s one very happy wee (and exceptionally regular) chappie. And a happy chappie with a few more words than last year, namely ‘Mummy pick fig NOW!’.

Anyway enough fig talk, on with the tarts, or tartlettes if I want to be really posh. I made several batches of these last year too, and always a success. The sweetness of the figs and balsamic caramalised red onions is cut through with a little sharpness from the goats cheese and the savory notes of thyme and addition of black pepper to the pastry. Perfect for parties and buffets, or as a nibble served with pre-dinner drinks or a starter with a few dressed leaves on the side. Admittedly they’re a tad on the fiddly side but can be made in large batches and handily frozen. And so well worth the effort.

I’m going for my first ever trio of bloggie competitions with this recipe, so keep on in there while I detail them all. Firstly, I was very pleased to see September’s One Ingredient Challenge is the Fig, a wonderful competition held jointly by Laura at How to Cook Good Food and Nazima at Working London Mummy (this month is Laura’s turn).

As thyme is such a crucial ingredient to my tarts I’m also entering Karen at Lavender and Lovage’s Herbs on Saturday Challenge (again I know, but it’s such a lovely competition!)

And last but most certainly not least my tarts are also entering Ren Behan’s Fabulicious Food Simple and in Season Competition, this month hosted by Katie at Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.

Phew, that’s a whole lot of competitions, now on with the recipe!

Fig, Goats Cheese & Red Onion Tarts

Makes 24 mini tartlets:

For the Pastry:

200g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling

100g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

100g of hard vegetable fat, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge

a teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper

a generous pinch of salt

an egg yolk

For the Tarts:

3 tablespoons of olive oil

3 red onions, very finely sliced

2 dessertspoons of balsamic vinegar

salt & pepper

12 to 15 very ripe figs (about 320g)

150g of goats cheese (preferably in a log shape)

a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed

a little more extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Special Equipment: 

2 small x12 tart or fairy cake tins

Start with making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and continue to whiz. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, add a few drops of very cold water until this happens. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients (bar the egg yolk) together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk splash and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. When it comes together in a ball it’s ready. You may also need to add a few drops of water for this to happen. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a gentle heat. Add the finely sliced onions and cook slowly for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until very soft. Stir in the balsamic vinegar and a pinch each of salt and ground black pepper. Allow to bubble for a minute or two before setting aside to cool.

Meanwhile cut each of the figs into 6 segments, and cut the goats cheese into 24 thin rounds.

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface as thinly as you can, to a one to two millimeter thickness. Cut into rounds with a 8cm diameter pastry cutter (or like me an upturned thin wine glass – every time I make tarts I curse myself for not having a correct sized cutter!). Re-work the leftover pastry until you have 24 pastry rounds.

Lay the rounds in the two tart or cake tins and press down lightly. Place a small teaspoon of the red onions at the bottom of each, followed by a slice of the goats cheese, a scattering of thyme leaves. Finally place three fig segments on the top of each, plus a fine grinding of black pepper and the merest drizzle of olive oil.

Place in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the pastry’s golden brown and crisp.

How about trying my other tart recipes? A couple of Tomato Tarts or Leek & Goats Cheese Tart.

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A Couple of Tomato Tarts

We’ve been having many a tart lately, which has made my husband a very happy man. He likes a nice tart (of the foodie variety obviously). And as it’s tomato season we’ve been using up oodles of cherry tommies on our tarts.

Not exact recipes here, but just throw it all on (in a couple of minutes tops), on bought ready rolled puff pastry (obviously you could make your own if you were so inclined and had more time than me) and bung in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. And voila you have a very tasty little tart for minimum effort. Great served as a main with a large leafy salad on the side, or a tasty wee nibble, appetiser or starter. Good party food too….and great for kids!

Cherry Tomato, Pesto & Goats Cheese Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Pesto  (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

About half a log of goats cheese

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out to size if using a block). Smear a fine layer of pesto over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Cut a few slices of goats cheese and place evenly. Grind over a generous amount of black pepper and drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

Cherry Tomato, Mozzarella & Tapenade Tart

A pack of ready rolled puff pastry (or a de-frosted block rolled out)

Tapenade (enough for a fine smear all over your pastry)

A ball of Mozzarella

A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes

A little finely grated Grana Padano or Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Unroll the puff pastry and lay on a suitably sized baking tray (or roll out if using a block). Smear a fine layer of tapenade over the surface. Chop the cherry tomatoes in half and scatter over (cut side upwards). Slice the Mozzarella and place evenly. Sprinkle a fine layer of Grana Padano or Parmesan over and a generous grinding of black pepper, drizzle on a little olive oil. Throw in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry’s golden, tomatoes wilted and cheese bubbling.

If you like this, how about trying my Courgette & Cherry Tomato Garden Pasta, Cherry Tomato & Mascarpone Tagliatelle, Leek & Goats Cheese Tart, Courgette, Feta & Basil Bruschetta, Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese Pizza, Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza


Leek & Goats Cheese Tart


I actually set out to make an asparagus tart, but couldn’t find any priced at less than €4.50 a bunch at the market yesterday (I know they’re having a laugh aren’t they?!) so I made a humble leek tart instead jazzing it up with some punchy goats cheese that we always seem to have so much of lurking in the fridge.

I don’t make tarts or quiches all that often, and every time I do I always wonder why not. They’re really not that fiddly or time consuming, and the pastry can be made in minutes in advance and happily stored in the fridge for several days, or even shop bought. I tend to make a double quantity of the pastry so that I can make a couple of tarts at a time, or a large and several minis for the kids, as they always prefer anything made in miniature. Mini Quiche Lorraine recipe coming shortly!

Enough for four:
pastry ingredients:
130g of plain flour, plus a little extra for rolling
35g of butter, cut into small blocks, straight from the fridge, plus a little extra for greasing the tin
30g of hard vegetable fat, cut unto small blocks, straight from the fridge
a pinch of salt

filling ingredients:
30g of butter
3-4 medium sized leeks (about 350g prepped and sliced weight)
150g of goats cheese, cut into small pieces (you can include any scrag ends or rind!)
3 large free range eggs, beaten
180ml of half fat creme fraiche (or full fat if you prefer)
salt & pepper

19-25cm width quiche or flat tin

Start by making your pastry. I use a food processor for speed but you can make it by hand too. If you’re using a processor place all the ingredients in the bowl and whiz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a splash of very cold water (about a tablespoon) and whiz again. When it starts to come together in a ball it’s ready, keep adding a few drops of water until this happens. Remove from the processor and shape together. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before using.

If you’re making the pastry by hand place all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Rub the fat into the flour with your hands until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add a splash of water (about a tablespoon) and mix into the flour and fat with your hands, trying to bring it all together. Keep adding a further few drops of water until the dough comes together and is very smooth. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 190ºC (gas mark 5, 375ºF).

Whilst the pastry’s resting make your filling. Remove the tough green ends from the leeks and wash the remaining lengths of leeks (you can do this by making a cut across the top and slicing lengthways down a few centimetres, then fanning out under a cold running tap). Once washed, slice them across into 0.5cm thick rounds.

Place a large deep sided frying pan or a saucepan on a gentle heat. Melt the butter and then stir in the cut leeks and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook on this gentle heat for about 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the leeks are very soft.

Lightly grease your chosen flan tin with butter.

The pastry should now be rested. Roll it out on a floured surface into a round that will fit your tin. Transfer to the tin. Cut off any excess pastry; there should be just enough pastry to overlap the sides by a few mms (the pastry will shrink a little when cooked). Prick the base all over with a fork. Brush the pastry case with a little of the beaten egg for the filling.

You now need to ‘bake blind’ the pastry case in the oven for about 20 to 25 minutes until it’s almost cooked.

Once ready, remove from the oven and dot the goats cheese evenly over the base. Then layer on the cooked leeks. Whisk the creme fraiche into the eggs, season with a little salt and pepper, though not too much as the leeks have already been seasoned, and carefully and evenly pour over the leeks.

Place the tart in the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes until the top’s a lovely golden brown.

Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve whilst warm. Lovely with a light green salad, and perhaps a few buttered new potatoes.


Goats Cheese & Beetroot Salad

A grown up salad today, our late night supper of last night!. Admittedly it’s a tad cold outside and not exactly salad eating weather, but with the addition of hot goats cheese crunchy toasts this makes a pretty good winter warmer of a salad.

Salad au Chevre appears on virtually every restaurant menu around us here. The first couple of times I ordered it I was expecting a large leafy salad with a little goats cheese tossed in. Alas no. It is in reality two or three large hunks of goats cheese on toast placed on a few stray lettuce leaves, sometimes with a scattering of walnuts, and usually with a little honey drizzled over the top. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really complaining as I love it, but it hardly constitutes a ‘salad’ does it?!

So here’s my compromise on the salad. Lots of salad leaves (I used rocket from the garden), diced beetroot (it’s majorly in season @ Chez Foti right now) and walnuts (picked down the lane a few weeks ago) all tossed in a simple walnut oil and red wine vinegar dressing, with three slices of toasted french bread and goats cheese….and a generous drizzle of honey. Honey in fact from our roof. A few months ago we had three bees nests removed and reaped the sticky benefits with a few jars of honey. So all in all there weren’t too many food miles clocked up in this salad!.

I’m loving our homegrown beetroot. Not only is it exceptionally easy to grow with minimal watering or effort, it just seemed to look after itself, but it’s so sweet and delicious. I’m also finding great use for the leaves and stalks in curries, stir fries and stews, and taking great delight in the pink beetrootie tinge they add!

Local beekeepers removing the bees nests from our roof!

Homegrown rocket & beetroot

For a hearty dinner for two:

6 baby beetroot, or 1 very large full sized

2 very large handfuls of flavoursome baby leaves or rocket, washed

40g of walnuts halves

1 tbsp of red wine vinegar

3 tbsps of walnut oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 slices of good quality french bread or sourdough, cut into 1cm thick slices

a little olive oil

130g of goats cheese (preferably in a log), cut into 12 slices

honey to drizzle

Firstly you need to cook and prepare your beetroot. Place them whole with the skin still on and a few millimetres of the root and stalks attached (this prevents them bleeding out too much colour) in a pan of boiling water.  If you’re using baby beetroot, simmer for about 30 minutes, if full sized for about an hour and a half. When cooked remove from the pan and allow to cool. Slip off the skin, root and stalk – it should all come away very easily. Dice into small even sized pieces.

Now to make your dressing. In a bowl whisk the red wine vinegar, walnut oil, a pinch of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper together.

Grill the bread slices on both sides until slightly golden. Drizzle over a little olive oil and place a couple of slices of the goats cheese on each piece and put back under the grill until the cheese has melted.

Meanwhile place the salad leaves in a bowl with the diced beetroot and walnut halves. Add the dressing and toss lightly together. Lightly as you don’t want the beetroot to stain the leaves too much. I actually tossed the salad leaves and walnuts separately to the beetroot to prevent this!.

Place the salad on a plate with the goats cheese toasts on top. Drizzle a little honey all over, but particularly on the goats cheese. Serve immediately!


A couple of Pizzas: Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese, Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese

Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese Pizza

We had our first pizza night in ages at Chez Foti last night. We’re very lucky to have an original bread oven in the house that makes the most excellent wood fired pizzas, though I have yet to use it to actually make bread – it’ll be this Winter’s challenge!  Over the summer it’s just too hot to fire up as it’s stays warm for days, so homemade pizza is a cold weather treat for us.  And the still hot oven is great the next day for warming up bread and croissants for breakfast, plus any lucky leftover pizza slices (an amazing hangover cure I find!).  I think we gorged ourselves on pizza virtually every Saturday night last winter!  It’s such a fun thing to do, and really not at all tricky.  I would say it’s great for kids too, but it doesn’t really work for ours, at least not yet anyway!  Francesca who’s three doesn’t like pizza, a very strange phenomenon for a child I know!  And little Jacques’s in bed by the time the oven’s hot and ready to bake (it takes about two hours of wood burning). I’m sure almost all other kids would love to help with the kneading, topping and scoffing though.

The roaring inside of our pizza oven

Obviously you can make pizzas equally well in a domestic oven, just make sure the oven is set to the highest temperature it will go it and has been preheated for a good while before.   Also important is that you bake the pizza on a pre-heated baking tray or special pizza stone….so that the dough starts cooking during assembly.

The great thing with pizzas is that you can put almost anything on them; you can keep them as simple or be as inventive as you want.  I find sticking to just two or three key ingredients in the toppings however usually works best.
Last night I made a couple of pizzas, the first a Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza and the second Griddled Veggies & Goats Cheese – see my previous blog  for some blurb on griddled veggies.  If you don’t have a griddle pan, just roast the veggies in the oven instead.  I’ll blog lots more pizza topping suggestions after I’ve made and eaten them over the winter!

To make the pizza dough, enough for two largish pizzas:
350g strong white bread flour, plus a little extra for kneading and dusting
1 tsp salt
6g dried yeast
1 desert spoon of honey
about 220ml warm water

Place the salt and flour in a large bowl and combine.  Add the yeast, honey and water to a jug and mix. Leave for a few minutes for the yeast to act.  Once the yeast is bubbling start to add the wet mix to the flour, at first stirring with a fork, then using your hands.  Once the dough starts to come together place on a floured board or work surface and knead.  Knead until the dough is soft and springy, about 10 minutes.   Flour the dough all over and place in a bowl to rest.  Cover with cling film and put in a warm place for about 30 – 60 minutes.  The dough should be about double it’s original size.  Once risen divide in two and either immediately roll out into your pizza shapes, or place the dough in the fridge until you’re ready.

Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza



To make the tomato sauce, enough for two large pizzas:
olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh basil leaves
a pinch of sugar
salt and pepper

Add the oil and garlic to a saucepan and cook very gently for a moment or two, ensuring you do not burn the garlic.  Add the tomatoes and stir well. Cook for about 10 minutes then stir in the basil, sugar, a good grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt.  Taste and adjust seasoning to suit.

Salami, Courgette & Blue Cheese Pizza
½ the above pizza dough quantity
½ the above tomato sauce quantity
90g salami or french saucisse seche, sliced thinly
60g strongish blue cheese (Gorgonzola, Saint Agur, Roquefort, Stilton for example), cut or torn into small chunks
½ ball of Mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 small courgette, cut lengthways into 4mm strips (if griddling), or halfed lengthways and sliced into  4mm pieces (if roasting)
handful of black olives
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 250°C/gas 9, or as hot as it will go.  Once hot preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet.

Firstly prep your courgette by cooking the strips in a very hot griddle pan.  Cook on both sides until they are charred.  Marinade the courgette in a little olive oil, good grinding of pepper and a pinch of salt.  If you’re roasting the courgette instead, rub the slices with a little oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in a hot oven for about 10 minutes or so.

Roll out your pizza dough to form a large circle.  Place either on the pre-heated pizza stone or tray, it should sizzle a little as the dough starts to cook.  You should now quickly assemble your pizza, as you don’t want the stone or tray to cool down much.

Spread the tomato sauce, evenly place the salami, then the courgette and finally the cheeses and olives.  Add some extra pepper if you wish.  Place in the hot oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until the pizza looks golden and crispy.   The underside of the pizza should look a little golden.  Slice and serve immediately!

Griddled Veggies and Goats Cheese Pizza

½ the above pizza dough quantity
½ the above tomato sauce quantity
1 small courgette, cut lengthways into 4mm strips (if griddling), or halfed lengthways and sliced into 4mm pieces (if roasting)
½ small aubergine, cut lengthways into 4mm strips (if griddling ), or quartered lengthways an sliced into 4mm pieces (if roasting)
½ red pepper, cut lengthways into narrow strips (if griddling or roasting)
90g goats cheese, sliced thinly
½ ball of Mozzarella, sliced thinly
olive oil
a good squeeze of lemon
salt and pepper
a few torn basil leaves
Preheat the oven to 250°C/gas 9, or as hot as it will go.  Once hot preheat your pizza stone or baking sheet.
Firstly prep your veggies by cooking the strips in a very hot griddle pan.  Cook on both sides until you have charred stripes. Marinade them in a little olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon, a large pinch of freshly ground pepper and a pinch of salt.  If you’re roasting the veggies instead, rub them with a little oil, salt and pepper and place on a baking sheet in a hot oven for about 15 minutes or so.  Add a squeeze of lemon once roasted
Roll out your pizza dough to form a large circle.  Place either on the pre-heated pizza stone or tray, it should sizzle a little as the dough starts to cook.  You should now quickly assemble your pizza, as you don’t want the stone or tray to cool down much.
Spread the tomato sauce, evenly place the veggies and cheeses, and then scatter the basil leaves.  Add some extra pepper if you wish.  Place in the hot oven for about 5 to 7 minutes until the pizza looks golden and crispy.   The underside of the pizza should look a little golden.  Slice and serve immediately.

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