Now that we are finally settled in our beautiful condo, it is time to start entertaining and we started yesterday with our new neighbors. One of the easiest treats to serve would be something like this.
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp. water
- 1/4 peeled and finely chopped pistachios
- 1/8 tsp. crushed pink peppercorns
- 4-5 fresh black figs, cut into 1/2 inch slices, crosswise
- Cranberry and Pepper Boursin (my ultimate favourite cheese)
- Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Heat the sugar and water in a small pan and, without stirring, until it turns a light amber (about 4-6 minutes).
Remove from the heat and add the chopped pistachios. Quickly pour out on the parchment paper making sure to spread it out as thinly as possible. Let cool until it is very firm. Finely chop and set aside.
Arrange the crackers on your best plate, each with a slice of fig, topped with a generous amount of the cheese. Drizzle the cheese with the balsamic vinegar and now sprinkle on the brittle with a pinch of the peppercorns.
Serve with napkins and a glass of your favourite…. chilled, of course. Please take note of this and be prepared as there won’t be a crumb left, I promise you. This still makes my mouth drool. Yum!
How happy am I to find proof of this. We have our very own fig tree (thanks to our kids) and if you never tried them, rush out and buy some. They are fabulous anyway you want to serve them.
They also help prevent hypertension, osteoporosis and heart disease. They can be eaten raw, wrapped with proscuitto and drizzled with fig balsamic vinegar, baked, stewed, stuffed, jam…..the list is endless.
For the beginner, try this one.
- 2 tbsp. honey (or agave syrup)
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. nutmeg
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 4 apples, chopped and peeled
- 10 figs, stems removed
- 1/2 cup granola
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the first 5 ingredients and mix well in a bowl. Add the apples and figs and mix until all coated in the sugar mixture.
Pour this into a 12 x 12 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with the granola on top. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes, checking to see if the apples are cooked.
Remove the cover and bake for another 5-8 minutes. Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving. Okay, enough of the healthy…a dollop of whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream would be lovely. You choose the ‘devil’ for this one. I did my part!!
‘Tis the Season for turkey, cranberries and, yes, pears. This is an easier-than-you-thought-it would-be dessert and I hope you will give it a try. After the first time you make this, you will wonder why you didn’t make it sooner.
- 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- pinch of ground cardamom
- pinch of ground cloves
- pinch of kosher salt
- 4 Anjou pears, cored, cut into 8 wedges. Do not peel
- 10 dried but moist Calimyrna figs, stemmed and quartered
- whipping cream for brushing
- 2 tbsp. honey
- raw sugar
- 1 2/3 cups flour
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
- 3 tbsp. (or more) cold water
Blend the first 4 items in a processor, and add the butter using a stop-start method until it looks like coarse meal. Spoon the water over the mixture and blend only until it forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for no less than 20 minutes. Remove, let it soften slightly at room temperature before rolling out.
On parchment paper, roll out pastry to make a 14 inch square or round. Try to make it even and carefully transfer to a cookie sheet.
Mix the sugars, cornstarch, spices, and salt together. Add the fruit and mix together gently.
Mound the pear mixture with the juices in the center, leaving at least 2 inches of border plain. Now, use the parchment paper as your guide and roll the pastry up over the edges of the fruit. If it cracks, try to mend to seal any cracks. Brush the edges with the whipping cream and sprinkle generously with the raw sugar.
Bake for about 50-60 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit is bubbling. If it starts browning too quickly, cover with tin foil. Remove from the oven, drizzle the honey over the hot filling. Run a long thin knife around the pastry edges to loosen. Cool on the parchment paper for about 1 hour.
Serve warm. If you really want decadence, serve with best quality vanilla ice ceam.
OMG! My mouth is watering now. Yummy.
We are now into summer and that means a lot of bbq’s, family picnics and visits with family, friends and neighbors. Today I will showcase a couple of new ideas to get you started AND excited to show off your new found recipe skills.
Firstly: Fresh Figs with Proscuitto and Blue Cheese
Note-the combination of flavours can’t be beat but your figs must be perfect. Ripe but not too soft. Use both green and purple figs for variety.
- 1/2 cup Blue Cheese
- 6 medium figs, cut into quarters
- 2 tbsp. of exceptional balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- pinch of mediterranean salt
- light pinch of pepper
- 1/2 lb. thinly sliced proscuitto, cut into strips.
Place 1/2 tsp. of the cheese on each quarter, gently pressing into the bottom of each fig piece. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Mix the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper together using a whisk and brush each fig.
To assemble, wrap the bottom half of each fig with a strip of proscuitto. Do not refrigerate.
Secondly: Pecan, Brie and Grape Salsa Tarts.
To get the results of this recipe you should have a high quality Brie. This means it should be soft when cut into but never runny. If you make a mistake and buy an under-ripe wheel of Brie, you should be aware that it will not ripen further.
- 1 cup seedless grapes, cut in half
- pinch of salt
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsps. olive oil
- 1/4 tsp. each of fresh rosemary aned minced garlic.
- pinch of pepper
- 48 prepared tart shells (you could make your own pastry)
- 1/2 cup roasted and chopped pecans
- 8 oz. Brie, rind removed
Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place grapes and salt in a processer and chop until coarse in texture. Transfer to a strainer and let stand for about 10 minutes. Mix together all the ingredients up to and including pepper. Fold in the grapes.
With a fork, fill the tartlets. This will avoid picking up any of the liquid. Bake until the cheese starts to melt (about 5 minutes). Do not over-bake. Serve immediately.
You have now become the queen of the appetizers for any occasion that crops up.