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Fig & Lemon Tarts


Fig season is here and, thanks to my friend Lauren who has both two giant fig trees and the will to harvest them, I’ve been rolling in figs. Most of these figs have been applied directly to my mouth, but some of these have made their way into various desserts, on top of pizzas, and soon, hopefully, some will be heading into the cannery (my kitchen) to be put up for winter.


fig & lemon chess 3

fig & lemon chess 2


Earlier this summer I attended the NC Foodways conference at UNC, which was amazing and something I’ve been meaning to write about since it totally flooded my brain with ideas. That is all forthcoming, but one thing I did learn that struck me as incredibly interesting was about chess pies. The first session that I attended was about 18th and 19th century colonial North Carolina foodways, and Kay Moss, food historian, changed everything I’ve ever known about my favorite pies. She said that in the past 300 years the amount of butter and eggs in a chess pie has stayed relatively consistent, but the amount of sugar has tripled. Tripled! I guess that’s no surprise in our overly-saccharine food culture, but that blew my mind. So I decided to try my hand at an ancestral chess.


fig & lemon chess 6

fig & lemon chess


The result of a lemon chess with a third the amount of sugar was lovely. It was so perfectly tart, and creamy enough to be a custard. Topped with fresh Wilmington grown figs and North Carolina gallberry honey, this dessert tasted like midsummer. I think it’s safe to say that when it comes to chess pies, I’ll be taking my recipes way back to the classics.


fig & lemon chess 7


Fig & Lemon Tarts
makes 10 4″ tarts



2 cups flour

1 stick butter

1 tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cold water


4 eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 stick butter

1 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Juice of 4 lemons


Fresh figs

Local honey


To make your dough combine flour, sugar, salt, and cubed butter in the food processor. Blend until butter has been cut into the flour. Slowly add water, a tbsp at a time, until the dough forms a ball. Wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.


Melt your butter and stir in your sugar. Slowly add in eggs, one at a time. Stir in lemon juice, salt, and vanilla. Heat your oven to 375F.


Roll your dough out on a floured surface to 1/4″ thick. Press into greased tart tins (or one pie dish to make pie instead of mini tarts) and set on a baking tray. Fill each tart tin with chess filling and place in oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes (longer for a full pie- 45minutes) or until the filling is firm and the crust has browned.


Quarter your figs and top each tart with fresh figs and a drizzle of honey. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Lovely Internet 7.31.15


1.  What is mindfulness? And, what you need to know about cultural appropriation.

2. What white millennials think about whiteness (spoiler: they don’t)

3. I’m thinking of taking a 30th birthday trip to the mountains with some friends in the spring. How lovely do these cabins look?

4. A short list of natural cleaners that are worth it to make yourself. (Sidenote: I’ve just started making my own shampoo & conditioner and so far, I feel great about it. Also, my hair feels great).

5. We need diversity on children’s bookshelves.

6. Tonight is a blue moon. I have half a mind to go sit on the beach and watch it rise.

7. My ya-ya’s are doing this festival in Miami and we’re psyched!

8. The problem with “ethnic” food.

9. Do we police women’s voices?

10. Superheros, just for each other.


For more tidbits from Elena the person, follow me on twitter (@elenabrent or @biscuitsandsuch), instagrampinterest or facebook. Subscribe to my bloglovin’ feed to make sure you never miss a post. Follow along with MissElenaeous for thoughts on everything other than Southern food.

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Mango, Chili, & Lime Dolphin Fish


For two years in a row we’ve been able to be in Morehead City during the annual Big Rock Blue Marlin fishing tournament. Last year we were even at sea during the first day, catching dolphin fish (mahi) and listening to the tournament radio as the winning marlin was reeled in. This year we were in Morehead for a family reunion during the second weekend of the tournament, and we were lucky enough to see some of the bigger fish caught.


mango dolphin 1


We came home with a freezer full of dolphin fish, which found its way onto our table a few weeks later, paired with a mango, chili, and lime sauce. My freezer is always packed to the gills with frozen mango because it makes a great addition to my morning smoothie. When blended it is creamy and perfect, so it makes a wonderful marinade and sauce. It made for a simple, easy, and fresh seafood dinner. Exactly what you want this time of year!


mango dolphin 2


Mango, Chili, & Lime Dolphin Fish


4 filets of dolphin fish (mahi)

2 cups frozen mango chunks

Juice of 3 limes

1 tbsp cayenne pepper

1 cup water


Blend together mango, juice of 2 limes, water, and cayenne. Blend until smooth, adding more water if necessary, a little at a time. Divide the mango sauce in half, using half as a marinade and reserving the rest as a sauce. Marinate overnight.


Heat your grill and line it with tin foil. Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side, until the fish is firm and opaque. Serve, hot, topped with the remaining mango sauce.

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