Welcome to my virtual tea party, my tribute to the art of having tea. As Henry James once said: “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
The British may have failed miserably in other culinary areas, but they excel in the tea ritual. I regularly dish on Downton Abbey, the Royal Family, UK tourism and other topical tea issues one might discuss at tea, served up with a tea treat recipe with a history.
The tea treat to share is Stilton and Fig Tarts, a recipe from Fortnum & Mason’s Tea Book.
Stilton and Fig Tart with Walnut Dressing
- 6 4" tart shells
- 1 oz butter
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 sprig fresh thyme plus extra to garnish
- 2 medium eggs
- 1/3 cup whipping cream or use non fat greek yogurt to reduce fat/calories
- 2 large fresh figs each sliced into nine wedges
- 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- 2 oz quality stilton cheese crumbled
- 1 pinch salt and pepper
for the dressing
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 3 tbsp. walnut oil
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 oz walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 1 bunch watercress
- Blind bake tarts (i.e. fill tart shells with dry beans, bake 10 minutes at 400 F, then remove beans and bake another 5 minutes until bottoms are dry).
- Melt butter in a pan. Add the onion and thyme sprig and cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Discard the thyme spring and spread the onion over the base of the tart
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and dairy, season well with salt, black pepper and nutmeg. Pour over the tarts.
- Top each tart with 3 slices of fig and sprinkle stilton on top. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 F until golden and cooked through. Let cool for at least 10 minutes.
- Whisk together the oils, vinegar and walnuts and season to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the tart and garnish with watercress.