Archives for posts with tag: figs

I’m all about quick bites lately.  I’m a woman on a mission.  The mission is to get a job and get my career rolling again.  Now, that we’re in a bigger city, I’m more than ready to jumpstart my career and this has been my main focus.  I’ve been cooking, but I really haven’t made anything that could warrant a blog post, or even if it could, I have too lazy to get my camera out and start shooting.

Excuses, excuses.  Just a few days ago, I realized I was becoming a laptop zombie in the vortex of job postings.  Suddenly, the sun began to stream into the room so beautifully and I thought I would be a fool not to take advantage of the sunlight.  It was ethereal and glowing.  When you’re in the zone on your laptop, you don’t take the time to notice the small things.  I’m glad I snapped out of the twilight zone and I instantly went into the kitchen and started to make something.  A lunch for myself.  Why not, I thought.  My husband has been working at all hours of the day, so I’m usually eating cereal for dinner.  Who is this person?  It’s so not me.

Anyway, I started roasted some figs, caramelizing onions, grilling halloumi – getting back into my element.  It was truly fun for me, how can it not be fun when you’re working with such beauties.  When I look at figs I’m amazed, the color, shape, the little seeds, they’re all just perfect.  Griddled, golden and salty cheese, sweet and savory onions – that’s why I love cooking.  Sometimes you just need a refresher.

Sugar-Roasted Figs, Caramelized Onions, and Halloumi Plate

Serves 3-4, a snack or starter

Ingredients

olive oil

6-8 figs, cut in half

1/4 cup caramelized onions*

halloumi cheese, cut into 1/4″ slices, as much or as little as you want, I used about 1/4 lb

1/4 cup brown sugar

a few sprigs of thyme

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

sea salt and black pepper

flatbread, for serving

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Line the figs on the tray and sprinkle with brown sugar, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they begin to caramelize and become candied.

In the meantime, in a medium-sized sauté pan on medium heat with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, grill the halloumi on each side until both sides are golden, about 1-2 minutes per side.  Set aside.

To assemble: you can either serve everything separately or combine everything on one platter.  Use your own creativity and arrange the figs, halloumi, caramelized onions, pine nuts, and mint.  Serve with bread of your choice.

*To caramelize onions: Slice 2 small onions (I used red).  Heat a sauté pan on medium-low heat and add in a good drizzle of olive oil. Add the onions to the pan with a tablespoon or so of brown sugar and gently cook them on for about 25 minutes.  Season them with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Figs are absolutely gorgeous.  When I cut into some fruits, I’m in awe.  The colors the textures, the perfect contrast in tones and shades make me *swoon*.  Take a kiwi fruit for example, that lime green color and the black seeds are beautiful.  The same goes for figs.  I cut one of those babies in half and I stare at it and revel in its beauty like it were a real baby.  Maybe I’ve got issues, but I’m all about the appearance of the food I eat.  I love it when food is so well presented that it s a feast for the eyes.  If you know me, you know I go absolutely gaga for jewel-tones.  This probably relates to my love of figs, that deep, dark purple is one of my all-time favorites.

I just remembered that every time my husband and I walk by this new gelato place that is about to open, I gush about how I love the sign.  I go on and on about how it’s so my style (because nothing in this town is my style hehe).  Mind you, the sign only says “mia’s gelato” and I rave about it for a block until my husband says, “get over it!!!”  The reasons I adore that sign are because the font is modern, in all lowercase and the colors work so well together.

I just mentioned the sign to strengthen my point about beautiful colors.  Strengthening arguments: a very useful skill picked up in Grad school *insert sarcastic smiley here.*  (Don’t get me wrong, Grad school is great but there are some things about it, I will never understand).

Anyway, the puff pastry is savory and sweet.  I think I started this recipe with an idea for something more savory, but along the way it turned into a dessert.  Oh well, that is what happens when you don’t use a recipe and just wing it.  Regardless, when I took a bite, it was nice and warm.  I thoroughly enjoyed all the flavors in it.  They worked together even though I was skeptical about the combination I had come up with.  The chevre I used was so mellow that it did not overpower the other delicate flavors.  The honey and brown sugar caramelized beautifully and resulted in a nutty and sweet taste.  The thyme also melded beautifully in unison with all the other ingredients, creating a lemony perfume throughout.  The fruits, oh yes the fruits, figs and strawberries were warm and rich in flavor.  I’m sure everyone loves puff pastry, how could you not, so flaky and buttery and the perfect vehicle for just about anything, yum.

I admit, this dish is a little more work than most of my recipes, but it is definitely worth it for a special occasion.  You can also substitute the figs or strawberries with other fruits, you switch the cheeses I used with mascarpone cheese.  It is so versatile, make it your own or try it this way.  Either way, it’ll be tasty.

Sweet and Savory Fig and Strawberry Puff Pastry

Serves 6

Ingredients

7 ounces of puff pastry, rolled into an 8″ by 10″ rectangle

15 strawberries, sliced

15 figs, sliced

honey, for drizzling

2 tablespoons brown sugar, or more depending on how sweet your fruit is

2 tablespoons pine nuts

3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed from sprig

2 tablespoons on butter cut into small pieces

for the chevre/ricotta base:

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 1/2 ounces mild chevre, softened at room temperature

1 tablespoon fig white balsamic vinegar (or plain white balsamic or white wine vinegar)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

fleur de sel, to taste

black pepper, to taste

Method

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  In a food processor pulse together all the ingredients for the ricotta/chevre base until smooth.  (Or mix together by hand in a bowl).  Next, place the rolled out puff pastry on a cookie sheet and spread the cheese mixture on top evenly, all the way to the edges.  Then, assemble the fruit in an attractive pattern.  I did two rows of figs and two rows of strawberries on the diagonal.  When the fruit is placed on the puff pastry, sprinkle it with the brown sugar, pine nuts, and thyme.  Drizzle the honey on top and dot on pieces of butter all over the pastry.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Serve warm with a dollop of ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey, if desired.