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Recipe: Fig and pistachio crostata

PUBLISHED: 13:09 30 September 2017

Fig Crostata by Charlotte Smith- Jarvis.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Fig Crostata by Charlotte Smith- Jarvis. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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Make our unfussy, rustic Italian fig tart.

I was really interested, and refreshed, recently to see that top French chef Sebastian Bras had asked to have his three Michelin stars removed. For me, food is about nourishment and comfort and sharing and flavour. I’d rather chow down on a big bowl of stew and dumplings than spend an evening eating foraged flowers and worrying whether I’m using the right fork.

The best kind of cooking comes from the heart, and the pressure of trying to maintain the almost impossible level of perfection required to stay the best of the best must really take its toll on professional chefs in top kitchens. Good on you Sebastian.

Admittedly I do like to push the boat out in my own kitchen occasionally, but more often than not I’m inspired by the little ‘mom and pop’ type places I’ve encountered on my travels.

This week I’m sharing my recipe for a rustic crostata pie, modelled on an Italian nonna’s recipe I sampled in Umbria last October.

It was eaten, rather poetically, in the midst of a vineyard, surrounded by vines and looking out to the mountains.

Preceding dessert were more glasses of wine than I care to remember, a platter of cured meats and rustic bread, and a rough goose and pistachio terrine.

Usually crostata has a criss-cross pattern over the top but this version dispensed with tradition – the cook choosing making the best flavour over fancy decorative faff.

Buttery and short, the base fell apart in our mouths, giving way to jammy slow-cooked tiny late autumn plums. There was no cream, no final dusting of sugar, no fuss. Just a thin slice of pie, shot of coffee and bunch of moscato grapes draped across the table.

I’ve replaced the plums with figs, which are at their best around now. Look for fruit that’s plump, unblemished and dark with a tiny bit of give.

Fig and pistachio crostata

(serves 6-8)

For the frolla pastry

100g caster sugar

100g unsalted butter

1 egg and 1 egg yolk (medium)

250g plain flour

100g butter

For the topping

Half a jar plum or fig jam

6 figs sliced thinly

60g pistachios, toasted and roughly chopped

Method

Combine the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and mix in. Mix in the flour and gently form into a ball.

Wrap and rest in the fridge for a couple of hours.

Flour a 12ins round pizza tray and preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the dough quickly over the tray (you might need to flour the top a little) to about 1.5cms.

Spread jam over the top and fold in the edges by 1.5cm to 2cms.

Place the fig slices over the top and bake for 30 minutes.

Scatter the nuts over the top and serve warm (not hot).

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