Monday, 30 July 2012

True colours

Arts and crafts are forever present in our lives. My Mum is an artist, and I grew up surrounded with art supplies.
Being a Mum myself now, I teach my sons the pleasure of working with pencils and crayons.
It is still early days with Eddie, he is happy to draw on the walls or any surface where he is not supposed to draw.
When I saw a post on BritMums asking parent bloggers to join in the Colour Me In Linky, I knew my guys would enjoy taking part.
You might have noticed a limited edition of Kellogg's Rice Krispies in the shops with a blank box that you can colour in.

For the challenge we received a very generous box of art supplies with all sorts of pencils, crayons and glitter glue.

Eddie was absolutely delighted with a huge box of Rice Krispies as well, he knows we can make fab little nests with the Rice Krispies.

He was very enthusiastic in his colouring efforts, and for a 2-year-old it was a decent effort. But not for his older 10-year-old brother who is a severe art critic. He saw Eddie's artfwork, frowned, took over and coloured over Eddie's scribbles. So here you see a combined effort of the brothers.

Thank you, BritMums and Kellogg's, for a beautiful box of art supplies. My guys enjoyed the challenge.
This post is my entry to the Colour Me In Linky.

Home to a Latte

I always do a list before going on holidays.
I just have to write it due to the fact that I'm a bit scatter-brained plus often sleep-deprived and if I don't do it, there will always be something that I have forgotten to take. In fact I tend to forget something even if it is on the list, like this year, I managed to leave our toothbrushes at home, and we had to buy the new set when we arrived to our holiday destination. I know I have packed them carefully, and confess I still haven't found them since we came back.
So, making lists is not a salvation but a great help nevertheless.

I haven't travelled abroad in the last couple of years, but I still take my passport with me, just in case.

Half of the things I take with us, is never used, as I am going away, ready for any eventuality, including all sorts of antiseptic wipes, creams, liquid etc, plus medication in case anyone got a fever, upset stomach, diarrhea, insect bites etc etc As my older son is having big sleeping problems and is on medication to help him with his sleep, that med is on top of my list. If he doesn't sleep, nobody will have a chance to have a rest.

Wash all the clothes in advance and iron as much as possible, even if it has to go in the suitcase folded. Take clothes for both cold and rainy days and - hopefully - the days of sunshine as well.

This summer we were lucky to catch the only week of sunshine, and our stay in Cornwall coincided with a lovely weather.

Place a big grocery order online for a delivery to a cottage where we stay. The place we go to is lovely, but it is a small village in the middle of nowhere, and there are no shops, unless you are prepared to travel. There are cafes but my guys are rather fussy, and I prefer to cook our food when we stay in the cottage. Of course, we have treats as well, like lots of ice cream and local chocolate.

Don't forget the sunblock cream.

Take kids' favourite toys and books with you. Elmer the elephant has been travelling with us for a number of years.

Have a good look in the fridge and eat all the perishables. Leave a bottle of long term milk in the fridge.

We drink lots of milk in this house. My guys love the milkshakes. Eddie drinks milk like a thirsty calf, gulping enthusiastically.
And of course, my husband and I love our lattes.
I had a giggle when I read the post on BritMums about coming home to a proper cuppa, because for me tea with milk is not a proper cuppa. I can drink tea with milk, if the tea is quite indifferent in taste, but I would rather not disguise the taste of tea with milk, given a choice. Give me a cup of Earl Grey with a slice of lemon any time.
But coffee is a different matter. That has to be very milky for me.

Not knowing if I'd be able to shop on the way back from our trip to Cornwall, I prepared a big size Cravendale bottle to sit in the fridge and wait patiently for our arrival. As it happened, we stopped only once at a small Costa on the way to grab a coffee and use the facilities before jumping back in the car, as it was Friday & the day of the Olympic opening ceremony, and we were trying to escape the floods of cars moving in the direction of London. So, I might as well pat myself on the head for being wise and buying milk in advance.

This little post is my entry for the Come Home to a Cuppa Linky Challenge on BritMums sponsored by Cravendale.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Gluten-free chocolate brownies with black currants

gluten free brownies, gluten free dessert

Ingredients (makes 16 brownies):

200g unsalted butter
400g chocolate (dark & milk)
3 free range eggs
160g gluten-free flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (gluten-free)
200g caster sugar
2 tbsp hot chocolate powder
2 tbsp red currant jelly
black currants (about 3 per each brownie)

1 curious child (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C.
Melt the butter and half of the chocolate in a bowl set inside the pan with the hot water, stir until all mixed well and melted. I used the mix of the dark and milk chocolate, but you can choose just one option if you like: either dark or milk.
Beat the eggs with the caster sugar in a deep bowl. Add the warm chocolate/butter mix (wait until it is not too hot, as you don't want the chocolate flavoured scrambled eggs) to the eggs with sugar mixture. Add 2 tbsp of the hot chocolate powder (I used Cafe Direct San Cristobal hot chocolate). Add the sifted gluten free flour and bicarbonate of soda. I used Dove's Farm gluten and wheat free plain flour blend which is a mix of rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat which is a good alternative to everyday wheat flour.
Pour the mix in the tray or square baking tin lined with the foil or baking paper. Bake for about 25 minutes. Use the wooden skewer to check if it's ready. Leave to cool to slightly warm.

Keep your tot away from the cake, if possible.

While still a bit warm, add 2 tbsp of the red currant jelly on top of the cake and spread it evenly with the spoon. Cut the cake into 16 squares.

Melt the remaining chocolate (200g). Take each brownie square and dip it in the hot chocolate. Place them on the cooling rack and decorate with the black currants.

gluten free brownies

The chocolate sets in a few hours (that is if you can wait so long). We were happy to eat several brownies with the chocolate sauce still running down the fingers.

gluten free brownies, gluten free cakes and bakes

I am offering my brownies to the July We Should Cocoa Challenge on Chocolate Log Blog. This month's idea was to include the black currants in the recipe. I used the black currants from the garden and the red currant jelly made from our own red currants as well.

I am also submitting this recipe to the Summer fairs & Fetes and Cake Stall and Bakes - July's Tea Time Treats baking Challenge hosted by Lavender and Lovage blog (next month's host will be What Kate Baked blog).
As my son Sasha goes to a special needs school, many of his mates are on special diets to help with their conditions (gluten-free being one of the diets). So, I think my brownies would be a decent addition to the cake stalls at the school fair.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Very Lazy Cajun paste: a time-saver in the kitchen

Every time I try to chop a fresh chili, there is always a doorbell or telephone ringing, or my guys need my attention immediately. In fact I hardly ever chop my own chilies, and tend to buy them in tubes as a paste. The taste is as good as freshly-chopped and I don't need to worry that I might accidentally touch my eyes (and Yes, it did happen to me, and No, I don't want to repeat the experience).

Very Lazy has a range of products for busy Mums like me, and I have been buying already some of their products like ginger and garlic (I use lots of fresh garlic as well, but we often run out of it, that's where the Very Lazy garlic comes to the rescue).

As they say on their website, "It's a no-brainer. Less time peeling and chopping, less mess, and you always have the ingredients you need right at your fingertips. So you can create fresh tasty home-cooked recipes without the fuss". Sounds good to me.

There is a new kid on the block among their range: American South Cajun paste, which is a rich and spicy blend of smoked garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper & red chilli (plus onion, lemon juice, tomato puree, oregano, thyme etc).

I first tried the Cajun food when we lived in the States, I loved a little restaurant in New Haven that served food from the American South. And though I don't really follow the recipes of the Cajun cuisine as such, I always have a jar or two of Cajun special blend in the kitchen.

I was glad to hear that the Very Lazy range is growing and includes now a few additions: Lemongrass, Cajun and Jerk.

Lovely guys at Very Lazy sent me a tube of Cajun paste to try. Having looked at the contents of my fridge, the most obvious choice was to cook chicken, using the Cajun paste.
The paste is very easy and convenient to use, just squeeze the amount you fancy, you can make it mild or hot.
I wasn't sure what degree of heat to expect from the paste, so wasn't overly generous with the paste. My Mum is staying with us, and she cannot eat very spicy or hot food.

Next time I cook chicken with Cajun paste (just for us), I will definitely add more. But it was still lovely. All the flavours are well balanced. It delivers the right amount of heat, and the blend of flavours is excellent.

The next evening I was making a side dish of baby sweet peppers. You will need a heaped teaspoon of ricotta per pepper. First mix 4-5 tsps of ricotta with 1-2 tsp of Cajun paste, carefully spoon the mix inside the peppers and place them in a ceramic dish, drizzled with the olive oil, in the oven (preheated to 180C). Cook for about half an hour.

I have also cooked a big tray of cubed squash and sweet potato with the Cajun paste (to go with the quick supper of sausages). Don't have the photo, but we enjoyed the combination of the flavours: the sweetness of the veg was working well with the spicy paste that turned the dish from boring to having a lovely kick.

This is a versatile product that could be used for many dishes, both meat-free and with meat.

Picnic indoors: a Cream Tea from Delimann (review)

"Tea to the English is really a picnic indoors" (Alice Walker)

"Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as Afternoon Tea" (Henry James)

"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea" (Bernard-Paul Heroux)

The British summer this year doesn't spoil us with good weather, it has been raining almost non-stop for days and weeks, all BBQs and picnics on the lawn have been postponed until the sunny day.

But what could stop you from having a picnic indoors? Cream tea is the utlimate British pleasure.
If you are feeling miserable in this weather, why don't you treat yourself to a Cream tea from Delimann? Nothing better to lift your spirits than a hot cup of tea with warm scones, smothered in clotted cream and strawberry jam.

My first taste of the Delimann treats happened to be on my birthday this year. A big hamper was delivered in the morning, and I kept wondering who sent it to me. It turned out to be a prize from Crafts Beautiful (the photo of my Russian dolls biscuits was published in the magazine).

When Gill from Delimann asked me recently if I would like to review their Devon Cream tea selection, I didn't hesitate a second.
For me the Cream tea is the epitome of the British cuisine, simple and wickedly luxurious at the same time.

Devon Cream tea from Delimann is one of their best selling gifts, and I can easily believe that.
Just have a look at what I have received: two plump Devon scones, a tub of Devonshire farm clotted cream, strawberry jam, Teonis clotted cream shortbread, Roskilly's fudge and refreshing Afternoon tea. It costs £17.50 plus postage. All the goodies arrive, carefully wrapped and well protected from any bumps on the way.

West Country tea (15 teabags) makes a good strong cuppa. As it is not flavoured, it complements well the richness of the treats.

Roskilly's fudge is made with all natural ingredients and tastes like a classic fudge should taste.

My guys were all agog over the box of Teonies shortbread. I did manage to taste one of them before the rest was demolished by my gang. It is a very crumbly buttery shortbread, and has a perfect balance of butter and sugar. It literally melts in the mouth. Perhaps not for those who count calories, but then again, that applies to the whole concept of cream tea, if you want to enjoy it, forget about the calories and just savour the moment.

Devonshire Farm Clotted Cream  is made on the local Devon farm, with milk from Guernsey cows.
It is superbly rich and creamy, and spreads like a dream on the generously sized scones.
Delimann's own label Strawberry Jam is produced in small batches for maximum flavour and is a winner of Gold Medal in Great Taste Awards. It has a very pure intense strawberry taste.

The scones are baked on the day of the dispatch. They are fresh and soft, great in taste and texture and are easily sliced.

I'm more than sure that after such a treat you'll be singing paeans to Edesia the goddess of food.

You might argue, of course, that it will be less expensive to bake your own scones and make your own jam, which is true, but it is such a pleasure to give and receive a foodie gift of quality.

Mann & Son are celebrating their own special anniversary in 2012. They first started trading in Bovey Tracey in 1837, 175 years ago! The Deli is still run by the same family.
Happy anniversary, Deli, here's to another 175 years and more!

Image credits: Delimann

Monday, 9 July 2012

Goat's cheese, baked in shortcrust pastry

We almost never have big Sunday roast lunches, and prefer to have lighter meals. My guys usually go swimming on Sundays, and when they arrive, tired and happy, they want some kind of a platter, so that they can relax watching TV and eat at the same time. Out comes an assortment of prosciutto, cheese, grapes, sliced apples or pears, figs, crackers and chunks of stonebaked bread. Sasha wants his tuna sandwiches and a Fab lolly.
Yesterday I accompanied my men to the swimming pool, had a quick shopping at Waitrose, got caught in the rain and once at home, decided I want something hot for lunch. I also fancied something inbetween sweet and savoury.
Goat's cheese, baked in shortcrust pastry seemed to fit the bill perfectly.
You might remember my post about taking part in the Capricorn challenge. I have already posted some recipes that include Capricorn goat's cheese (see here).
So here is another recipe for my friend Ethel the goat from Capricorn Somerset Goats Cheese.

You will need
Capricorn cheese (1 per person)
Jus-Rol shortcrust pastry
2tbsp apricot conserve
2 tsp flaked almonds

For this recipe I used Bonne Maman apricot conserve but any good quality apricot conserve/preserve will do.
And Yes, I used a ready-made shortcrust pastry from Jus-Rol again, and No, they don't pay me to promote them, in fact I think they are pretty much oblivious to my existence.

If you use 2 cheeses, you will have some pastry left, just put it back in the fridge, it will keep for another day or two. Or bake cinnamon twists with it.

Cut each cheese in half and spread the apricot conserve on one half. Top with the flaked almonds (see the photo above). Put the second half on top. Cut a piece of pastry and gently wrap it around the cheese, smooth the edges and slightly butter the pastry.

Place the wrapped pastry in a deep dish or on a tray and put in the oven, preheated to 180C.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden.

Wait a few minutes before you cut your pastry, so that the cheese doesn't escape the shell, but don't wait for too long, you want the cheese to be gooey and hot. Serve with the green salad, some olives and a sliced persimmon (figs would be nice as well).

Hope, my friend Ethel would like my idea and be tempted enough to try it for herself.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Cuor di bue tomatoes, stuffed with rice and minced turkey

My latest box from Abel and Cole contained three fab looking tomatoes - Cuor di Bue (or the heart of the ox in Italian). I sliced one of them for the salad, and decided to stuff the remaining too with the mix of rice and minced meat.
You can cook this dish with beef or pork, but I wanted something lighter and opted for the minced turkey. I made enough stuffing for a selection of tomatoes and sweet peppers.

tomatoes and sweet peppers
300g minced turkey
300g cooked jasmine rice
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
oregano, dried
parmesan, grated, for topping, about 3-4 tbsp
sea salt with ground coriander and crushed rose petals
olive oil

Pan-fry the minced turkey in the deep pan, with the olive oil, chopped onion, garlic.  Slice the tops of the big size tomatoes and scoop the inside carefully. Chop the scooped tomato and add to the turkey.
When almost cooked, add a sprinkling of the dried oregano or Italian herbs mix. Let it cool to the room temperature.
Cook the rice, or open a tub of pre-cooked rice. Mix the mince with rice.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Salt the tomatoes and peppers inside. I like to use the sea salt with the ground coriander and crushed rose petals.
Stuff the tomatoes and sweet pepper halves with the turkey & rice mixture.
Place them on a big oiled tray. Bake for 30-40 minutes. Five minutes before the end, take the tray out and add the grated parmesan on top of each tomato and pepper. Put back in the oven. Once the cheese melts, the tomatoes are ready.
Serve hot. If you like, add a generous dollop of the soured cream on the side.

I am offering my simple recipe to the One Ingredient challenge which is hosted by How to Cook Good Food blog this month. The challenge is hosted alternatively by Laura from How To or Nazima from Working London Mummy.

Friday, 6 July 2012

When life gives you lemons, reach for chocolates

"The only thing I can't resist is temptation" Oscar Wilde

"Life is like a box of chocolates ... You never know what you're gonna get."  Forrest Gump

“As with most fine things, chocolate has its season....Any month whose name contains the letter a,e, or u is the proper time for chocolate.” Sandra Boynton

Chocolate is my only vice. I've never smoked, drink very rarely and a little, have never taken drugs (well, if you don't count the 24 hours of the morphine drip after the first c-section) or had one-night stands, and with me often being left to manage my guys on my own, I am almost on the road to sainthood. What lets my halo slip a little is my love of chocolate.

I've been admiring boxes of chocolate on Martin's Chocolatier's page for a while and decided to treat myself to the Classic Champagne truffle box.

I have read a couple of mixed blog reviews on Martin's Chocolatier's chocs and am glad I decided to follow my instincts and try it myself to have my own opinion.

You might know already that Martin's Chocolatier is the UK’s first Premium Online Chocolate shop and Chocolate Tasting Club.

I have chosen a box of champagne truffles for my delectation. They look very pretty and dainty. The delicate truffles in pastel colours are almost the Jane Austens of the chocolate world, in their sprig muslins.

The first truffle that I tried was Columbus (Orange and champagne, coated in sherbet). Not sure I would call it Columbus, as it is a truly feminine truffle. I would associate the name Columbus with more robust and stronger flavours, maybe dark choclate, laced with rum, or coffee (don't know if he drank coffee). The ganache in Columbus is delicate and flavoursome, and together with the Wimbledon (champagne and strawberries) would be my top choice from the box. The addition of sherbet is inspired. Wimbledon is amazingly pretty in pink, and tastes exquisite as well.

Mont Blanc (marc de champagne) is a more traditional truffle, rich and melting in the mouth.
Romeo (pink heart foiled champagne) was so smooth it disappeared by magic.
Philippe (dusted dark chocolate truffle) is more for boys and has a distinctive quality.
Pierre (milk chocolate truffle) is another scrummy chocolate, maybe a bit less adventurous but perfect for those who love traditional flavours.

All in all, a beautiful selection, presented in a stylish box (if the Union Jack is not to your taste, they have the same selection in a different package). The box is priced at £12.95, so it is roughly over a pound for one truffle. But this is not your bog standard box of Cadbury's, these are artisan truffles, and should be treated accordingly. I would never say No to a gift like this (Are you reading this, dear husband?).

My only mild criticism is that I would like to read a bit more about the truffles that arrived, and what stands behind each name, some of them like Wimbledon and Romeo are self-explanatory, but who on Earth are Philippe and Pierre? Is Philippe named after the founder Philip Ahn? Is Pierre a reference to Pierre Bezukhov?
 And also you can hardly read the text in white on the very pale mustard background on the little menu note attached to the chocs.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post, I bought the box of truffles. All opinions are mine.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The importance and art of storytelling

"Laughter is timeless. Imagination has no age. And dreams are forever" (Walt Disney)

When I was a child, my parents didn't read books to me at bedtime. That doesn't mean we had no books at home, we did, and later my Mum was teaching me how to read, but I don't have memories of us sitting on the bed with Mum reading to me. However, Mum has always been a great storyteller, and she used to weave the tapestries of the fairy tales, when I was little. She encouraged me to read books, and retold the whole novels to me. I later discovered these books myself: Jane Eyre, Consuelo, Wuthering Heights and many more.
The storytelling in Russia has always been an art and a custom. Old peasant women in particular, most of them illiterate, have been the treasure troves of the old Russian folk stories and fairy tales.

Now Mum tells her wonderful stories to her granddaughters, Sasha and Sonia, and they often ask her to tell them another story. My older niece is a good reader, and she loves books, but she still enjoys evenings with my Mum. And the little one would climb on her grandma's lap and ask for a particular story. Mum would say: But I have told you this story so many times. And Sonia still demands it.

I have recently come across a very interesting report on the importance of storytelling. I was invited to an event in London - a lunch with Disney's Nancy Kanter, which sadly I couldn't attend but I asked if I could read the report later.

I don't have space to reproduce the whole report, but instead I am offering you a few highlights.
I hope you will enjoy reading them:

"At face value there are many benefits to storytelling: it provides quality time with a child; it is a safe activitu with little chance of bumps and bruises; and by allowing both teller and listener to venture into a fantasy world, it provides a degree of escapism from everyday life."

"But as research shows, the true benefits of storytelling run much deeper, aiding learning and development by helping children to understand complex social and behavioural situations and to explore ideas such as morals, respect and relationships with others, which ultimately help shape their views of life and define their persona"

And of course, you could turn watching the movies together into a lesson of storytelling.

"It’s incredibly beneficial to be able to sit there and have a conversation with your child about something that they’ve just seen, answer questions, pairing up connections that there are in your own lives to what is on the television screen. Those are, that’s really the way that kids learn from television. It’s being able to see something on television and then have a discussion about it. And so we make shows that are watchable for moms and dads, where they think you know I don’t mind watching this one with my kid”, says Nancy Kanter.

All of our stories do have themes and have messages, it’s one of the things when we write our scripts. In fact on the cover page we ask the writers to sort of outline what is the theme of this story so that they have it in their mind, we have in our mind. So every episode definitely has a theme and a message for kids".

"Disney has always been famed for the use of characters and storylines that are rooted in literature and timeless fairy tales, lessons and characters which are timeless for a reason. These evergreen tales are the social lessons relating to cooperation, team work, self-control, respect for self, and respect for others that stand the test of time and are as relevant today as they were 80 years ago."

P.S. Just in case you're wondering about the photo at the top, it has nothing to do with me or my family, this photo was taken at the beginning of XX C, and I thought this must have been one of the babushki, entertaining her grandchildren with the fabulous fairy tales.

P.P.S. This is not a sponsored post.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The joys of the British summer

This short video was done in January. Who would have thought that Eddie would still be wearing this coat in July. But today he still had it on, as the weather is very un-summery, the day being wet and damp.

I bought this lovely coat from Next in the after-Christmas sales, when the first waves of the frenzied shoppers have receded and the supplies of the sales items were mostly depleted. It is warm, weather-proof and stylish.

Eddie is a very outdoorsy boy, and whenever it stops raining, he is eager to go out in the garden to jump in the puddles and get messy with the mud. This coat keeps the chill away and is comfy for all sorts of physical activities like running, jumping and climbing up where you are not supposed to climb. A perfect outfit for little boys made of frogs and snails and puppy-dogs' tails.

This particular coat is not available anymore, but Next has a variety of coats on offer for active boys. I guess we'll have to buy a new coat when the autumn comes, as he is growing fast. In a few weeks Eddie will be two years old. How time flies. My baby is becoming a big boy, though of course, he will always be my baby, whether he is 12 months or 30 years old.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Crostata with figs soaked in marsala

Whenever we visited Ferrara, my husband's hometown, my mother-in-law would buy a crostata with jam from a local pasticceria.
There are many of them in town, and each has their own favourite crostata on offer. Some of these places are very small and are run by a family, so everything looks and tastes just like "Nonna used to make".
And there are grand places to visit for a sweet treat as well, for example, pasticceria Leon d'Oro, which is placed right in the middle of Ferrara, you can sit there, have a leisurely coffee, stuff yourself with wonderful pastries and watch the crowds visiting the town centre.

Italian artists

The beautiful watercolour of Leon D'Oro above is reproduced with the kind permission of Roberto Cariani. That's Ferrara, romantic and poetic, a true gem of the Northern Italy.

We haven't visited Italy since Eddie was born, but Sasha loved the pasticceria, and we used to go there daily for our elevenses. The choice of pastries is amazing, and you can have a slice of crostata if you fancy a jammy treat.

I have been looking for good recipes of crostata, and found one that I liked the sound of.
My recipe is based on Meg Rivers' recipe Fig & Marsala crostata published in Meg Rivers Home Baking, with a few changes. She adds fennel seeds to the pastry, which I'm sure takes this dish to the next level of sophistication.

Italian dessert, Italian pastry

First of all, I should confess that I used a roll of ready-made chilled Jus-Rol shortcrust pastry. I know I would have been crucified and vilified on Come and Dine with me, but I don't care. I had guests coming for lunch, and not much time.

1 pack of JusRol short crust pastry (or make your own pastry by all means)
500g dried figs
1 decent glass of marsala (about 300ml+)
2 tbsp vanilla sugar (MR opts for 3 tbsps of dark sugar, but figs are sweet enough, I think next time I bake this crostata, I'll try to skip sugar altogether)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tbsp nutmeg

Italian dessert recipe

You have to prepare the filling ahead of the baking session. Soak the chopped figs in the marsala wine in a small pan. If you don't have marsala, I think sweet port or sherry could be another option. Or any strong sweet wine indeed. Add the vanilla sugar and spices. Bring the pan to the boil and cook over low heat, stirring regulalry, until the filling has reduced by about a half. This might take about 30-40 minutes. Once relatively cool, blitz the mixture with a hand blender. It has to be a thick paste, not a smoothie, so don't overdo it.
Preheat the oven to 180C.
Roll out the pastry in the pie dish, slightly buttered in advance. Trim the edges and save some pastry for the lattice on top. Bake the empty shell for 10 minutes, take the dish out of the oven and spoon the fig filling in, smooth it  with a spoon. Cut the remaning shortcrust pastry into ribbons and make a lattice. Bake for another half an hour at 180C until the pastry is golden.
Serve hot with custard or cream. I think the Greek yogurt could be a lovely alternative, or even a good serving of vanilla ice cream.
It is tasty the next day too, you can either eat it cold, or reheat it in the oven.

Italian dessert recipe