Warren Bradley is a busy man. The fourth-generation Borenore fig grower is half way through his orchard’s first crop and is combing the orchard daily for ripe fruit then driving it almost immediately to market in Sydney and somewhere in there he also finds time to make to make endless batches of fig ice cream which is sold by the scoop at the farm gate. We visited a couple of days ago and tried a couple straight from the tree, they were perfectly ripe and had that deep caramelised flavour of really great figs.
Unfortunately but understandably Warren keeps his ice cream recipe to himself. So once we got home I fiddled around with a few different recipes for our own version. Consensus from Tim and the kids is that the one below was the best.
Caramelised onion and fig pizzas
Makes one large pizza or four individual ones
For the pizza dough
2 tsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp warm water
2 cups (250g) flour
For the topping
2 red onions
4 figs, sliced thinly
Mix yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes. Place the flour in a large bowl, add salt to taste and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and bring the whole lot together. Knead by hand or in a mixer with dough hook for about five minutes or until the dough is smooth and springy. Place into a oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel.
Leave in a warm place for a couple of hours or until the dough doubles in size. Preheat oven to 200 and place a pizza stone or baking tray in the oven.
Add the onions to a warm a saucepan with a little olive oil. Make sure the heat is only low to medium and let them cook gently for about twenty minutes then set aside. If making indvidual pizzas, divide the dough into four balls and roll out until each is a disc about 1/2cm thick, or just roll out into one large pizza. To assemble the pizzas, first cover with the onions, then the sliced figs and bocconini. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with rosemary and seasoning to taste then cook for about 15 minutes. These are great hot but also travel well to picnics and that kind of thing.
Roll out dough and transfer to pizza tray. Press down with fingertips to dimple surface. Smear over caramelised onion and cover with mozzarella and figs. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt, grind over pepper and dot with cheese. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and bake for 15 minutes until edges are very crisp and cheese is bubbling. Slip onto a board and cut into quarters.
Fig and honey tarts
I had never had much success with pastry until this recipe. It comes from the beautiful book, A Year’s Worth, written by the clever team behind New Zealand’s Dunsandel Store. The book is a constant source of inspiration for me, full of easy and reliable seasonal recipes. These tarts are just delicious and can be made year-round with whatever fruit is in season or the freezer. I added a little honey to their custard recipe and reduced the sugar, just to add some extra depth of flavour.
For the sweet shortcrust pastry
85g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
For the custard
1 cup cream
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 figs, thinly sliced
Pulse the flour and icing sugar together, then add the butter and egg and pulse until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Tip mixture out onto a lightly floured bench or board and bring together with the heel of your palm until the mixture is a lovely, smooth yellow ball. Wrap this with plastic and pop in the fridge for about half an hour or more if you have the time.
Roll out till about 1/2 m thickness and cut so the pastry fits into six individual tart tins or one 26cm (or thereabouts) tin. Carefully drape the pastry over the rolling pin and gently press into the tin. Prick the bottoms with a fork and then return to the fridge for another half an hour.
Preheat oven to 180C. Line the pastry with baking paper and fill with beans, rice, little rocks from the garden, whatever you have on hand and blind bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights and bake for another five minutes or until pastry is just turning nice and golden.
For the filling, whisk together the eggs, cream, sugar, honey and cream. Let the pastry shells cool completely before filling them up. And to do this, just pour in the custard mixture, not too much or it will overflow, and top with a slice of fig or any other fruit you have at hand.
Bake for a further 10-15 minutes or until the custard is set and golden.
Puree six fresh figs with a squeeze of lemon juice. Make the basic ice cream mixture given here, omitting the apple mint, and just before you have finished churning swirl the fig puree through the mixture and then freeze. Yum.
Fig, basil and mozzarella salad
This salad is simple, beautiful and with some warm crusty bread and a few slices of prosciutto on the side makes a pretty perfect summers lunch. Thank you to Maggie Beer for it’s inspiration.
500g fresh mozzarella
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup milk
Juice and rind of one lemon
6 ripe figs
2 tablsepoons honey
Slice the mozzarella thinly and place on a large platter. Mix the creme fraiche, milk and lemon juice and rind together and pour over the mozzarella. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12 hours. Turn slices over and return to the fridge for another few hours.
An hour or so before you are ready to serve the salad remove it from the fridge and let come to room temperature. Slice the figs and place these on top of the mozzarella, drizzle with the honey and then top with the herbs and a final drizzle of olive oil.