Friday, 14 February 2014

Opposites Attract

Torta Salata alla Gorgonzola, Salami, Finocchio & Fichi Secchi
Gorgonzola, Salami, Fennel & Dried Fig Tart

It's Valentines Day and this single guy is at home fixing his supper. No, this is not a joke- it is me describing my evening. Sigh. Ah well, may as well make the most of it and fix something yummy all the same. And why not use some of that Gorgonzola and shallots? It's not like there is any kissing going to happen this evening anyway...

Ok- so I am kidding about that part, because you wouldn't have a problem finding someone to kiss you if you made them a delicious supper like this one... I promise you! The rich flavor of the Gorgonzola is balanced wonderfully by the sweet, dry figs and the fresh and mild fennel, and with that rich and salty salami as well, on a bed of fluffy puff-pastry. Oh yes my friend... if you make someone this for supper... you WILL be kissed!

As I already mentioned, the ingredients for this were, apart from the puff pastry of course, a small bulb of fennel, a shallot, 3-4 dried figs, about 2" worth of salami, cut into very thin slices and some Gorgonzola cheese- not too much! Just about 3" worth from the tip of the slice. Fortunately, this is another of those dishes where "less is more", because it IS pretty naughty with the buttery pastry, the salami and the rich cheese... but as you can see, everything is nicely balanced and moderately portioned.

The secret to making this work is to slice everything as thinly as you possibly can, right from the fennel, to the shallot, to the salami and yes, even those dried figs. And don't forget to keep the fennel greens set to one side to use for garnishing later!

Keeping things sliced thinly, means they will cook more quickly and that all of those opposite and contrasting flavors will come together nicely, without things getting too rich and heavy. There are no eggs, no cream, nothing but the flavor-giving ingredients here and that is a good thing. Trust me.

I cut the puff pastry into a circle and laid it out onto my baking dish and added an extra, straight border of pastry around the outer edges to give a thicker and more decorative border. And then I started layering the tart, beginning with the finely sliced fennel, followed by the salami and onion, then came the figs and finally the Gorgonzola, which I spread around in little blobs... like I said- less is more here!

What will happen is that the gorgonzola will melt and stick together the other ingredients as they bake. So sure, to be warming the oven up whilst you do the other prep work and then pop in the assembled tart, at 300°F for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is puffed up, delicious and golden brown,

And yes indeed my friends, this is what it will look like after 30 minutes or so... how'd you like it? Exactly! What's not to like? All it needs to be perfect and ready for eating is a nice grind of fresh pepper and a sprinkle of that fine and feathery fennel top! Amazing what a little bit of greed can do! I would say that looks as pretty as a picture!

This would be delicious served hot or cold and will probably be a little firmer actually, once it has cooled down. But do you know what? It is Winter, it was cold and it is not going to be there anymore in the morning... meaning YES! I have been busted! I ate it right up as soon as it came out of the oven!

The nice thing was indeed that the fennel and onion, having been sliced so thinly, became soft and sweet, whilst the salami and Gorgonzola became a little more intense flavored and the figs crisped up a bit, becoming chewy and delicious... You might just like it!

Time for a parting shot, just to let you know what the highlight of my Valentines Day was. Not quite as fragrant as roses, not as sweet as a kiss... but I am telling you- make something as pretty and delicious as this for your sweethearts and their heart will be yours forever. Well, maybe just until the end of supper. But that's a start at least, isn't it? Go ahead, have fun and enjoy!

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