Sunday, July 20, 2014

Little Figgy Pies and a Frootshoot

My best friend got married this past September, and had an awesome honeymoon in California. With all that CA has to offer, they basically got four vacations in one.  For a few days, they stayed at a little bed & breakfast where there were trees abundant with figs.  She raved about these figs; how they grew in this adorable, peaceful little garden, and you could just pick 'em and eat 'em right there, as many as you wanted! 

As I listened to her tales, I realized, "I've never had a fig," and then suddenly I had a mission.

I decided, then and there, that the next time I saw figs for sale I was buying those things, pronto, no questions asked. 

But fig season was over.  

For nine months, all I saw were weirdo dried figs and taunting Fig Newtons. But then! There was shipment to the sunny shores of Grand Cayman all the way from California, and with it came fresh figs! This called for a celebratory frootshoot of these strange, Humpty-Dumpty-meets-Cone-Head-shaped, beautiful things. 

I don't think that I've yet mentioned that I've made it my mission to read all of Beth Kirby's {local milk} blog from start to current (and also watch Breaking Bad, and eventually Friends).  Her blog and writing and photography have been fueling a lot of my inspiration/motivation.

My plan, if I ever crossed paths with some figs, was to make her Fig Balsamic & Rosemary Hand Pies. And so I did.

*Note: the only change that I made in Kirby's recipe was using Pepper Chevre Goat Cheese, instead of plain, to add a delicious little kick.
*Another note: I used the leftover juices from the filling as a salad dressing. It was definitely corn-starchy.  In hindsight, I should have added more balsamic and honey to mask that.

Fig Balsamic & Rosemary Hand Pies, copied almost verbatim from {local milk}

Yields about 18-22 4" hand pies

1 recipe of Buttery Pastry Shell from smittenkitchen (or the pie dough of your choosing)

For the Filling
2 cups of figs, cut into 1/2″ size pieces
2 Tbsp sugar
1/8th cup good balsamic vinegar
1/8th cup honey (raw sourwood)
2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
pinch of kosher salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
goat cheese (optional)
1 egg, whisked
sugar for dusting (turbinado, sanding, or regular sugar work for this)

First prepare your dough which should then be divided in two, shaped into flat discs, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and chilled. Allow it at least one hour to chill in the fridge, or pop it in the freezer to speed up the process.

Mix figs, sugar, balsamic, honey, rosemary, and salt in a medium bowl and let macerate for about 15 minutes (it can sit longer, even over night, to no ill effect).

Heat oven to 425°F.

Carefully pour off about 2 Tbsp of the liquid from the figs and mix with the 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Stir this back into the figs to thicken.

Roll out half your dough to about 1/8th inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Rotate the dough and flour as needed to keep from sticking. Using the cutter of your choice (You can use 4″ and 2″ biscuit cutters to make tiny pies and tinier pies, but you could do shapes or whatever you like.), cut the dough out. If making double crust hand pies cut an even number, if making half moon hand pies then you needn’t worry about it. Lay cut-out dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the fridge to chill for about 5-10 minutes. Again, you can just put them in the freezer for a couple of minutes.

Fill a small bowl with cold water and set to the side. Whisk your egg in the bowl to use as a wash. Remove dough and fill with a scant table spoon of filling for half moon pies and a heaping tablespoon of filling for double crust pies. If making 2 inch pies, use about a teaspoon of filling. If you wish, use a little less filling and top with a small dollop of goat cheese (or Pepper Chevre Goat Cheese!).

To seal the pies, dip your finger in the cool water and run your finger around the rim of pie. Either fold over or top with second crust and press carefully but firmly to seal all around. Seal with the tines of a fork if desired.

Once pies are filled place them back into the fridge or freezer to chill for 10 or 3 minutes respectively. Remove from fridge and cut vent holes in the tops of the pies. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar. Chill once more before baking.

When ready to bake place the pies on a parchment-lined baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for 5 minutes at 425° F. Reduce heat to 350° F, rotate pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan every five minutes to promote uniform browning. Place pies on racks to cool.

Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to browse over at {local milk}!