I love reading cookbooks, but the truth is I rarely follow a recipe. Part of this is due to poor planning--I decide I want to make something and find out after reading the ingredient list that I don't have half of what's called for. Inevitably I end of mixing and matching bits and pieces from various recipes to compensate, usually to good effect, although these creations are rarely duplicable. Nevertheless, where tarts are concerned I've learned that it can be a lot more fun to mix and match components than to follow a single recipe. That is, find a crust you like, pair it with whatever fruit is ripe and in season, and top it off with a custard or nut filling that compliments the existing elements. The tart pictured above uses a crunchy, lemon-polenta crust, fresh figs, and a honey and pistachio filling similar to a frangipane. An orange flower-scented custard or other citrusy custard would have also been good. Other good autumn tart combinations to try: nut crusts with apricots and a marscapone filling, or plain pastry filled with plums and grapes with a chilled lemon custard poured over the top of each slice before serving.
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