Get Figgy With It!
Welcome to summer in Canton, one of the most interesting and charming small towns in the U.S., according to a recent travel blog. I couldn’t agree more, and I originally ran for City Council to help move Canton forward. This fall, I will have the honor and privilege to seek re-election in my efforts to help maintain our progress, enhance economic development and improve the quality of life for all citizens.
So many projects are in process, while others have been completed, such as the new Northside Hospital Cherokee. A contractor soon will be selected for the complete restoration of the historic Jones Mercantile, and new restaurants and shops continue to open and expand in downtown and throughout the city. Our First Friday events grow larger every month, and the Canton Farmers Market is bigger and better, with more than 50 local farmers and purveyors every Saturday in Cannon Park.
The city has rolled out an exciting new brand campaign, and the word is spreading: Canton is vibrant, active and connected. I am so proud of our accomplishments and appreciate all of our elected officials, city staff, community volunteers and, most of all, our residents who represent the best of Canton on a daily basis as a welcoming, open-minded and optimistic place to live, work and play.
While the fruits of our labor continue to grow, so does the local produce with warm days and nourishing rains. Hopefully, we will avoid any drought conditions this summer, resulting in a bounty of local fruits and vegetables. I get excited just thinking about the homegrown tomatoes, peaches, okra and other delicious produce; this is, by far, my favorite time of the year for seasonal cooking.
While I regularly shop the Canton Farmers Market for local ingredients, there is nothing more rewarding than picking produce from your own backyard. At One Britt, we have a small, raised bed for tomatoes, peppers and smaller produce, but there are two to three weeks every summer when our fig tree delivers one of the season’s sweetest delights. I planted our fig tree when I moved into the house in 1997, and now I have to prune it extensively to keep it from growing out of control.
Some seasons produce more figs than others, but I always put them to good use when Mother Nature delivers. I use them in both savory and sweet dishes, and sometimes I combine the two. Such is the case with this month’s recipe, a rosemary fig tart with mascarpone and goat cheese. I add rosemary from the herb garden when roasting the figs, and I also incorporate a small amount into the pastry crust. Combined with the tang of the goat cheese and the rich sweetness of the figs, the rosemary provides an added layer of distinctive taste.
Of course, you can prepare the tart without the herb, and you also can substitute other sweet roasted seasonal fruit, such as Georgia peaches, for the figs. The crust is very forgiving, and you even can use cream cheese in place of the goat cheese for a milder filling. Just use your imagination and have fun, then enjoy the sweet rewards!
So, let’s get figgy with it this summer in Canton. Here’s hoping your July is simply peachy keen.
By Bill Grant, contributing writer, Canton City Councilman, Mayor Pro Tem and president and chief creative officer of Grant Design Collaborative.
Rosemary Fig Tart
with Mascarpone and Goat Cheese
• 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup all purpose flour
• 1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
• 1 large egg yolk
• 8 ripe figs, halved
• 3 tablespoons brown sugar
• 2-3 rosemary sprigs
• 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, room temperature
• 4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
• 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 3 tablespoons local honey
To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar together in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides a few times.
Add flour and rosemary, mixing on low speed until fully incorporated. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing on low until the dough comes together, around 30 seconds. Do not overmix, or the dough will be tough.
Form the dough into a disk, place in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let soften until pliable. Use a rolling pin to flatten to 1/2 inch rectangle shape for a 13 inch by 4 inch tart pan, or a 10 inch round pan, with removable bottom. Flour the work surface well to avoid sticking, and sprinkle a little more flour on top of the dough.
Roll the dough to a ¼ inch thickness in the shape of the tart pan. If the dough tears, just press it together in the pan. Lift the dough over the rolling pin and place in the tart pan, pinching together to patch any holes. Press the dough into sides, corners and bottom, and roll the rolling pin over the top of the pan to cut for a clean edge.
Refrigerate the dough in the pan for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350. Bake on the center rack for 30-35 minutes until golden. Let cool completely before filling, and then remove the tart ring from the sides.
To make the filling, halve and remove stems from the figs, and place cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle brown sugar on each fig, and top with a few rosemary leaves. Broil until the sugar has caramelized, checking often so they don’t burn, around 5 minutes.
Whip the mascarpone, goat cheese and sugar in a stand mixer with paddle attachment until light and creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add yogurt and honey, mixing until smooth.
Fill the cooled tart shell with filling and top with caramelized figs. Refrigerate the tart for 30-45 minutes before serving.