Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pineapple Express

This is a story about figs, and a dessert that could not be recreated.
About five weeks ago I was invited up to Boothbay, Maine by a chef friend of mine, let's call him GwaG (short for Geoff with a G). It was his mother's 70th birthday and the whole family was gathering to mark the occasion with some serious weekend feasting. GwaG and I would be in charge of dessert after the formal birthday meal. We both agreed that something simple and rustic would be suitable. I knew that nothing was simpler than frozen puff pastry and that the hard work would be coming up with a fruit filling for a rustic tart. In late September the blueberries are long gone from Maine's rocky shores and apples seemed just too damned pedestrian to wow a crowd of gourmands. So I went a whole other route with something savory and sweet at the same time. That's how I came up with brandy-soaked dried Kalamata figs, goat cheese and fresh mint. It was risky experimenting like that on crowd of foodies, but nothing ventured, nothing gained someone once said. And the results? Well, the tart made a repeat appearance the following night by command of Mother GwaG herself, so one could assume it didn't suck.
When I went looking for dried figs during yesterday's record-breaking snow storm, none could be found, and I wasn't about to go gallivanting around the Bronx and Westchester counties looking for them when perfectly adequate substitutes eyed me from the shelves of TJs.
Chili Pineapple Tart - a Blog.O.Food original
  • 1 package (¼ cup) Trader Joe's Chile Spiced Pineapple
  • ¼ cup Frangelico liqueur
  • ½ Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 sheet puff pastry dough
  • 4 oz goat cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp fresh mint chiffonade
Macerating fruit
In a stainless steel mixing bowl, toss the dried pineapple, liqueur and brown sugar to thoroughly combine. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit for at least an hour, or overnight.
Pre-heat your oven to 400°F. Strain the macerated pineapple through a fine sieve, reserving the liquid. Thaw the puff pastry sheet for 10 minutes before rolling out on a floured work surface to roughly form a 10"x14" rectangle.
Transfer the dough to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Lightly brush some of the reserved fruit liquid on the tart crust to within 1 inch of the four edges. Arrange pineapple evenly on top of the syrup. Crumble the goat cheese over the fruit then top with the mint. Artfully fold over the edges of the pastry to make a rustic looking tart, and move to the oven.
Bake for 15 minutes, or until the crust has risen and develops a nice golden brown color. Remove tart from the baking sheet and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.
Chili pineapple tart with goat cheese and mint
There is a welcome and not-unpleasant kick from the chili in my tart. It really enlivens the taste buds, and as with the figs, the cheese and mint play off one another in subtle and tantalizing ways. And I never met a food that a little hooch couldn't improve!
Did I say adequate substitutes? Well, I do have a gift for understatement. The pineapple tart far exceeded anything I had tried in that arena previously. I think we can safely say I hit this one out of the ball park. I'll be pulling a chili pineapple tart out my arsenal anytime I'm looking to score a few points with the "ladies", if you catch my drift.
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food


Nicole@ The Dirty Oven said...

Thank you for posting. I am so going to try this. I love anything spicy and sweet.... need I say more!

Lynette said...

My stars, that sounds absolutely heavenly and looks divine. Must try.