I am sharing this recipe because of my love for the Mountain Rose apple. Every year I buy a big box and look for new ways to enjoy. I remembered a dish I would periodically make featuring apples. It originated from one of my favorite Spanish inspired cookbooks is Jose Andres’ “Tapas – A taste of Spain in America”. Chef Andres is a protege of the great Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame. This book is a great starter book for exploring simple chef driven tapas. One of my favorite dishes is the seemingly strange combination of raw salmon and apples in his Asturian style salmon recipe. Asturias is a beautiful region who’s food basket is filled with salmon from the Sella river, Cabrales bleu cheese and apples. Chef Andres describes the dish as not traditional but made with ingredients coming from the region. I decided to take his lead and alter it to fit the incredible bounty of the Pacific Northwest….
“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.” ~ Willie Nelson
I apologize for apparently having fallen off the edge of Earth for the past month or so. Bad blogger. I returned from the Alsace Wine Festival and jumped directly into the overloaded work frying pan. Between an intense business trip to Japan checking out wagyu farms and a company rebranding I have had little time to even think let alone write. I feel the need for two quick ricotta recipes to hopefully act as a life preserver to toss to both of my faithful readers who are drowning in a sea of despair….
In her presence all castes dissolve. Rich and Poor are equal in appetite. And from the subtle depths of all past ages the scent of the gratinee is the incense of haves and have-nots together in the dark, together because of the dark. The early to bed know nothing of her. They are the sons of error and is certainty itself. – Robert Courtine, The Hundred Glories of French Cooking
French Onion Soup is the most classic and well-travelled of all French dishes. It has seduced and conquered more stomachs than even our beloved New England clam chowder. She is, as author Robert Courtine suggests, “a daughter of the streets. This daughter of the night and night’s pale dawns will always remain as elusive as those dawn’s themselves.” Her simplicity seduces us….
I have been so buried trying to finish writing/photographing my Provencal cookbook on classic and reimagined dishes from the South of France. The amount of work required is staggering and sometimes stifles my creativity. I usually head out to the Farmer’s Market in Portland (PDX) for a much needed break and some edible inspiration. Walking through the various farms offerings I was so happy to encounter a plethora of interesting peppers including a mound of fresh Espelettes. It reminded me to add one of my favorite dishes, roasted peppers stuffed with goat cheese and topped with Anchoiade. This is a photographic rich post with few words as they all seem to be saved for my book. More information on my book can be found at: bit.ly/KickstartSunshine…
Day Four: More Champagne, Can my Liver Survive this Onslaught?
“If you don’t have passion, you won’t make very good Champagne.”
We arrived back in Epernay with a sense of foreboding a soldier must feel when returning to the scene of a particularly horrendous battle fought only the day before. I had imagined Epernay’s streets haunted by the ghosts of empty bottles from yesterday’s excesses. The bright, relentless sunlight bore a hole through my aching brain….
I was reading Jose Pizarro’s beautifully photographed book ‘Spanish Flavors’ and started massively craving the robust flavors of a perfectly cooked Spanish meal heady with garlic, smoked paprika and finished with a drizzle of fruity Spanish olive oil. I drooled as I flipped through the pages of food porn imagining myself sitting at a tapas bar sipping on a glass of Cava or perhaps Txacoli with plates of charred octopus and crispy Flamenquin waiting in front of me. Or maybe digging into a real Paella with its socarrat, the crispy, crunchy, caramelized rice stuck to the bottom of a pan that anyone who truly understands the virtues of Paella fights for. Somehow I managed to maintain enough presence of mind to write a list of dishes I wanted to tackle later that night, hopped into our car and headed to the market. I do this all the time, I attempt to have a ‘menu’ prior to shopping and never manage to come home with any of it intact. Every single time I get completely waylaid by the richness and diversity of offerings. I guess I just love food too much to be constrained in that way or maybe it’s just not the way I think. The third more feasible explanation is that my dear mother thought of a wonderful creamy blanquette de veau at the exact moment of my childbirth, forgetting she wasn’t at the table, squeezed a bit too hard, and perhaps cut off air circulation to my brain at a critical moment resulting in a mild form of menu amnesia. Whatever you call it, I have the struggle every single day. …
The baked figs wrapped in two year aged Prosciutto and Kataifi then baked in our wood burning oven, piped full of house made yogurt cheese then drizzled with French lavender honey and sprinkled with Sicilian chopped pistachios became an instant hit epitomizing Figue Mediterranean in a single bite. It is he melding of cultures and cuisines with provocative flavors that burst in your mouth and scream Mediterranean. The inspiration came from a book I bought written by two of my favorite authors, Greg and Lucy Malouf. Arabesque is an amazing read and a constant source of inspiration for all things Mediterranean. An absolute must for anyone wanting to learn how to cook Mediterranean food. My version is slightly modified but still pays tribute to it’s origins.
- 8 fresh, ripe Figs
- 8 slices Prosciutto, Speck or Serrano ham
- ½ box Kataifi, shredded filo dough
- 1 stick unsalted Butter, melted
- 1 cup Labne, house made yogurt cheese
- 4 Tbsp Lavender Honey
- ¼ cup chopped Pistachios
- Trim the stems off all the figs and cut a cross into the top using a small paring knife.
- Wrap the base of each fig with a slice of ham.
- Mix the melted butter with thawed Kataifi and wrap around each figs leaving the top third uncovered.
- Bake at 450 degrees for seven minutes, or until golden brown.
- Arrange on serving plate, drizzle with melted lavender honey and sprinkle with chopped pistachios .
“To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.”~Elizabeth David
Everytime I make cheese I am reminded of Gareth Blackstock in the absurdly excellent BBC sitcom ‘Chef’ talking about raw cheese (see the entire episode ‘The Big Cheese’ here). In particular, when his cheese monger Sebastien comes to sell him cheese and he is looking for real, unpasteurized Stilton. Before you read on watch this clip about unpasteurized cheese. Hilarious! It is even worse in the USA where we are scared on real cheese. Today I bought five gallons of raw milk in a dark, back alley. As I made the transaction I looked over my shoulder to make sure no one was watching. Five nerve wracking miles of driving back constantly eyeing the rear view mirror to make sure no one followed. The joys of running illegal raw milk.
I hadn’t made cheese in a long time and I needed to reference the words and confident advice of cheese maven and guru Ricki Carroll vise a vis her excellent tome on cheesemaking simply called “Home Cheese Making”. A few years back I had bought a cheese press and enough bacteria to convert rivers of milk into curds. Now I was dusting off the press and refreshing my memories of house made tangy cheddar, creamy Camemberts and perfect Mozzarella. Here is a pictorial of today’s efforts, note Ricki’s book on the work counter.
Afterwards I ladled the curds into camembert molds and let the whey run out. For the next five hours I flipped the cheese every hour till it compressed the curds into the traditional camembert shape. Now the cheeses need to rest for a few weeks and ripen into heaven. I should mention for cheese making purists that I combined three processes into one here. While initially cheesemaking is the same regardless of cheese, the starters added are different.