I am so lucky to have friends in my life like Vanessa. I have written before about how we first bonded over a mutual love of cooking and how we work seamlessly together in the kitchen, our skills and palettes complimenting each other. When I decided to throw a little Friendsgiving to get my holiday recipes ready for you, I asked V if she’d be able to take care of turkey so I could focus on sides and dessert. I should have known not to expect a plain ol’ roasted bird (which would have been perfectly fine, of course!); rather, V showed up with a gorgeous turkey breast roulade stuffed with apples, cranberries, and chestnuts and coated with a sage-pecan pesto. She also treated us to this gorgeous tart of creamy stilton custard, crispy prosciutto, and luxurious balsamic-glazed figs in a gluten-free pecan shell. Rich and filling, but utterly addictive – we enjoyed this as an appetizer and it was hard not to go back for seconds, knowing we had plenty to save room for. I may not have gotten a second slice, but I convinced Vanessa to share the tart here for all to enjoy

More often than not, I don’t follow recipes. I think it drives people crazy, except for maybe Cara, who makes up her own recipes as well. The difference between Cara and I is that she writes hers down. I just post taunting pictures on Facebook to make all my friends and family drool.

But now that I have more time on my hands, I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen pretty much every weekend and I’ve been trying really hard to write things down to share with you!

First up is a Stilton and Roasted Fig Tart that I was eyeing as a contribution to Orphan’s Thanksgiving. Orphan’s Thanksgiving started 5 or 6 years ago by a number of (now) friends who were all involved with the Boston Ballet’s production of the Nutcracker which opens the day after Thanksgiving. Since no one involved in the production can really travel, a few get together for a feast and last year I scored myself an invite. This year’s Nutcracker is brand new and I’ll be playing every single one. Word on the street is that everyone is bug eyed, excited and crazy busy getting this show up so I hope everyone will come check it out!

Luckily, I didn’t have to wait until the real Thanksgiving to try this baby our since Cara invited me over for an entirely gluten free Thanksgiving feast just last week!

Right then. Fig tart.

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Stilton, Roasted Fig and Prosciutto Tart in a Pecan Crust

Yield: 1 9" tart

Creamy Stilton custard, crispy prosciutto, and luxurious balsamic-glazed figs in a gluten-free pecan shell. A small slice makes a rich and decadent, elegant first course.

Ingredients:

For the Crust:
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup almond meal (or almonds)
1 tbsp maple syrup (optional)
1 egg

For the filling:
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (I used whole because that's what I had)
4 oz Stilton or your other favorite stinky blue

For the Figs and Balsamic Reduction:

three pint-sized baskets of fresh figs
1 cup plus 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (feel free to try flavor infusions like cinnamon or lemon - or just use a good quality traditional balsamic
3 tbsp agave nectar (or sugar)
2 tbsp melted butter

For Garnishy Goodness:

6 oz prosciutto, chopped and crisped to a golden brown, divided
3-4 oz more blue cheese
1/2 cup of caramelized onions (I happened to have them on hand and caramelized them in the renderings from the proscuitto, a little olive oil and a pinch of herbs de provence)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Trim the stems off the figs and cut them in half lengthwise. Drizzle with 1-2 tbsp of balsamic and the butter and spread evenly on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes, until the figs are just soft but still hold their shape. Set aside. Keep oven at 375ºF.

In a food processor, pulse the pecans (and almonds if you are using whole) into a fine meal. Add the almond meal (if using), egg and maple syrup and pulse until a ball forms.

Press the dough into a tart pan with your fingers. It will be sticky but it should fill a tart pan evenly. Set aside.

Beat the eggs and milk until combined. Layer the tart with the caramelized onions and a handful of prosciutto crumbles. Pour the egg mixture into the tart shell. Crumble the 4oz blue cheese into the tart and bake for about 20 minutes or until the egg filling is puffed and golden. Remove and let cool to room temp.

While tart is baking, combine the cup of balsamic, agave (or sugar) in a small sauce pan and bring to a light boil. Turn the heat down and reduce by half. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

When the tart is cool, arrange the roasted figs on top. Top with remaining prosciutto crumbles and additional blue cheese. Before serving, drizzle with the balsamic reduction.