Posts Tagged ‘ figs ’

Winter Salad

Saturday, January 5th, 2013

Now making a weekly appearance in my lunchtime repetoire:
Bitter Greens SaladThis is one of the best salads ever! The original recipe comes from the February 2009 issue of Food & Wine Magazine. I still have it bookmarked, the pages sticky from making the dressing dozens of times, although by now, I’ve committed it to memory, and made a few changes. Here is my version:

BITTER GREENS WITH FIGS AND FOG

1/2 small head radicchio, finely shredded
1 Belgian endive, thinly sliced crosswise
1 C. baby arugula
1 1/2 oz. cooked organic chicken, cut up
7-10 whole unsalted almonds
1 dried calmyrna fig, chopped
1 oz. Humboldt Fog goat cheese, cubed

DRESSING (this is a double recipe, you’ll want extra!)

3 tblsp. extra-virgin olive oil
3 tblsp. fig vinegar (or raspberry)
3 tblsp. sugar free apricot preserves
1 shallot, very thinly sliced
1 tsp. dried rosemary leaves
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
freshly ground pepper and salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Toast the raw almonds on a cookie sheet for 10 minutes, and let cool, then coarsely chop. (I make a big batch to save time, also great served with cheeses).

Let the sliced shallots marinate in the vinegar for 10 minutes. Meanwhile add the oil, rosemary, and thyme to a small saucepan. Heat over moderate heat for 2 minutes until it sizzles. Stir in the apricot preserves and heat until melted, about 1 minute. Add the shallots and vinegar and cook an additional minute. Season with salt and pepper.
Food & Wine Salad Recipe

Toss the lettuces, warm chicken, figs, and almonds in a large bowl and drizzle the warm dressing, to taste. Top with chunks of the cheese. (Note: the original recipe calls for regular goat cheese, see photo in magazine below)

This recipe makes one huge salad or 2-4 servings as a side, in which case I add more almonds, figs, and cheese but omit the chicken. The sweetness of the preserves and figs are the perfect match to the bitterness of the greens.

Lunching on Figs….There Brookhaven

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Some days the best course of action is to disappear. I had a day like that last week, so I went There, where the atmosphere is warm and the liquor is cold.

Proprietor BB offered me a Moscow Mule, made with ginger beer, lime juice, and Russian Standard Vodka, the only potato vodka produced in Russia available in the states. Served in a proper copper mug, it is a refreshing cocktail, albeit an odd choice for me at noon….on a Thursday.

But I wasn’t There to drink, I was There to eat some figs! BB has been up in his fig trees every day gathering the ripe fruit, both black mission and brown turkey. With his harvest he, along with his new chef BT, created several dishes for this late Summer menu, like the fig salad with black peppercorn chevre dressing and the fig creme catalan for dessert. I ended up having both, plus a sampling of rustic squash soup.

The salad was a lovely composition of lightly dressed greens, mostly red oak from There’s garden, puncuated with fresh figs glazed with raisin puree. Pretty. Some chunks of goat cheese in the dressing would have added to the pleasure.

But it was the fig creme catalan served in a tiny Le Creuset casserole dish that really blew me away. Beneath the crunchy layer of torched sugar was a rich vanilla custard studded with sweet poached figs. Creamy, dreamy, decadent. It was a lovely escape, if only for an hour.

305 Brookhaven Avenue 404-949-9677

New Fangled Southern at JCT Kitchen

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

Originally posted about a year ago….funny, it sounds like it could have happened yesterday.Friday night LC and I found the dining room at JCT Kitchen jam packed, despite the torrential downpour and severe thunderstorm warning. We had an evening to ourselves and wanted to enjoy a nice adult meal at a cool place.

Surprisingly, I had never made it to JCT before. It was one of the first restaurants to lure the trendy dining crowd to this somewhat industrialized neighborhood. Everything I had heard was positive so I was excited to give it a go.

The space is open, exuding warmth and simplicity, much like its neighbors Quinones Room and Baccanalia in the same complex. Across the way is the White Provisions building home to culinary star Abattoir and right next to the original Yeah! Burger.

Seated across from each other at a two-top along the wall, LC commented that conversation was nearly impossible, given the constant chatter from tables nearby. It was true, the atmosphere was anything but intimate. We would have preferred the patio had the weather cooperated.

We started with cocktails from their creative list, utilizing spirits like bitters, bourbon and rye, which has become rather de rigeur for upscale trendy restaurants these days. I was excited to see a sloe gin fizz on the list, taking me back to my childhood when my parents hosted card games and my Mom made this drink by the pitcher.

After delivering our cocktails, our server read off an entire menu’s worth of specials. I almost stopped him, having already decided on the bacon wrapped pork loin, when he said the word “duck”. The game had instantly changed. It was a breast and confit, I assumed a leg, with an orange champagne sauce served with sauteed peppers….a weird pairing but he had me at “duck”.

But first we wanted to sample a couple of starters, the “angry” mussels and the bacon wrapped figs with blue cheese. We found both dishes to be very impressive. The figs were not baked but rather raw, sliced in half with a thick strip of chewy bacon intertwined among the halves, which rested in an intensely sharp blue cheese sauce that provided the appropriate balance to the dish. A smattering of toasted almonds added a fun crunchy element.

A medium-sized bowl of mussles arrived, steaming in their aromatic broth flavored with peppered bacon, serano chilis, and onion. Although small, the shellfish were great. I especially enjoyed dipping the crusty rustic bread in the spicy broth. We loved ‘em!

When our server checked in I switched to prosecco. LC ordered the shrimp ‘n’ grits and I went for the duck, of course. His dish was richer than the Kennedys, grits engulfed in cheeses and butter, topped with shrimp and a battered and deep fried poached egg. A week’s worth of calories and fat, but decadently delicious.

My duck, however, was not exactly what I expected. Yes, the breast was nicely displayed with a crispy skin. Based upon our server’s description, I was expecting a leg confit, but instead the breast was served on a mound of shredded confit, seasoned with the orange champagne sauced described, creating a concoction which sort of reminded me of BBQ. The oily, crispy, gaminess of the confit was entirely lost. I wasn’t thrilled about the peppers to begin with and they did little to elevate the entree.

An unexpected favorite of the evening was the side dish of corn succotash that LC ordered. Bathed in butter, it was the epitome of Summer in the South. Ironically LC had actually changed his order to the squash, but it was a happy mistake.

We decided to forego edible dessert in favor of the liquid variety upstairs at JCT Bar. An acoustic guitarist entertained the crowd of thirty-somethings inside as the drizzle continued outside. A train chugged past as we headed to the car, anxious to get home and work off the surplus calories.

1198 Howell Mill Road 404-355-2252

JCT Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Birthday at Barcelona

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Following my haute dog lunch, I continued to celebrate my birthday with food and wine at Barcelona Wine Bar. It’s the hottest new restaurant in town, experiencing its 15 minutes of uber-trendiness, making it nearly impossible to get a reservation.

You might expect this place to be the brainchild of one of Atlanta’s genius restaurateurs, but in fact, it is the seventh location, with the original six strewn about Connecticut.

Each with a vastly different decor and layout, Atlanta’s Barcelona is made for partying, with a lively bar on one side, rows of tightly packed tables on the other, and a patio with communal seating and a fireplace. Wood plank walls give the space warmth and provide a rustic contrast to the industrial white tiles with black grout that surround the open kitchen. Lighting is perfect for a sexy rendezvous.

Having been to Barcelona, Spain, a few years ago, I was expecting plates of fried seafood laden with grease, lots of boring potatoes, marinated baby fish, and meatballs with tomatoes. I know, the food in Spain is supposed to be amazing, but that’s just like saying the food in New York City is amazing. Sure it is….if you know where to go. Even with the best advice, I stumbled upon some rather unappetizing dishes in Barcelona.

But the reviews said otherwise. Me, B and C squeezed ourselves into a tiny corner table, birthday gift bags in tow. C kindly agreed to be our designated driver, so B and I began scouring the wine list for an appropriately spicy bottle of red. Perhaps a malbec or temperanillo? B asked our server to recommend one that would suit our taste and pocketbook, but he insisted that we would not be happy with the less expensive bottles and finally persuaded us to go with a Spanish cab. It was rather tasty.

We decided to order a selection of tapas to share. B and I love Brussels sprouts so we started with a bowl of them, grilled until tender with crispy charred edges. Then the octopus arrived, prepared with peppers and fingerling potatoes….great flavor.

A dish of chorizo with sweet and sour figs was certainly more sweet than sour, but delicious nonetheless. I wasn’t as impressed with the chicken empanadas or the grilled hanger steak, but B and C enjoyed them. Our final dish of mushrooms with herbed goat cheese was sublime but turned out to be one dish too many….we were stuffed.

But that didn’t stop us from ending my birthday dinner with, not one, but two desserts. Dulce de leche crepes with chocolate sauce was an enormous portion and the fleur de sel vanilla ice cream that topped them tasted like plain ol’ vanilla. A bucket of churros with chocolate dipping sauce were etherial in their lightness despite being fried dough.

Our tapas experience was just the tip of the culinary iceberg at Barcelona. Offerings include an entire selection of charcuterie and Spanish cheeses, medium plates like lobster risotto and rabbit roulade, and entrees ranging from serrano ham wrapped monkfish to pepper-rubbed filet mignon. Paella for a table of two to six is also available.
And yes, of course the restaurant serves crispy fried calamari, marinated boquerones, traditional albondigas, and patatas bravas.

It could take me a year to work through this menu. Thankfully, the fervor will have subsided by then and I will likely be able to walk in without a reservation at all.

240 N. Highland Avenue NE 404-589-1010

Barcelona Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Girltalk….With a Side of Cheese

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

In the midst of AD’s whirlwind visit, we managed to spend an evening just hangin’ out. I put together a spread of cheeses and accompaniments and opened a bottle of 2009 Edmeades, a deep spicy red zin who’s earlier vintages used to find their way into my home quite often.

A chunk of standard gruyere, another of 2 year aged gouda with a crunchy texture, and some leftover overly ripe Humboldt Fog were plated with dried figs, honey, slivered almonds, and raisins. A bowl of red grapes and a few toasted slices of Trader Joe’s ciabatta and raisin toast rounded out our spread.

The last time we were together was in Rio nearly twenty months ago, so there was a lot to catch up on. There was plenty of wine, and a little bit of whining about men and money, as the second bottle was uncorked….or rather, unscrewed (always start with the good bottle!).

Cheese was devoured, cigarettes were shared, roaches were thrown off the balcony. Just like old times.

Barley for Breakfast….Experiment #2

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Breakfast BarleyI divided the barley I made last weekend into four equal servings for experimentation. Sandy, my holistic nutritionist, suggested I try it for breakfast instead of eating so much breakfast sausage and bacon which are both full of nitrates.

Honey, cinnamon, dried figs, golden raisins, and slivered almonds make a delicious topping for Greek yogurt so I thought it would also be great to flavor the barley. I really like the chewy texture of the grain and it was actually better than I expected with the honey and dried fruits.

Unfortunately, being the reckless carnivore that I am, I ate my bowl of barley with two links of turkey sausage. (sorry Sandy!)

Artisan Cheeses

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Cheese PlateCheesesCheese (cheez) n. a solid food made from the pressed curds of milk. Sounds delish, no?

I’ve really gotten into cheese in the last few years. So many restaurants offer artisan cheese plates, sometimes as a starter, other times as an option for dessert. Anne and Clifford have always done it the best at Floataway and Baccanalia. Their astounding selection at Star Provisions allows them to introduce us to new artisan cheeses from the US and abroad. But it is the perfect pairings and accompaniments that bring out the flavor and texture of each cheese that are truly remarkable.

And so I’ve learned the basics…..manchego with membrillo (quince paste), gruyere or compte with honey, dried figs, and Marcona almonds, Humboldt Fog with kalamata olives, taleggio with Vidalia marmalade, any blue with pears and candied walnuts.

Clark Wolf has written a witty and informative book about American artisan cheeses, appropriately called American Cheeses. Read my review in Atlanta’s Finest Dining here.

I picked up some cave aged gruyere, cabrales, and taleggio at Whole Foods for a New Year’s Eve snack. The cabrales is a very pungent blue from Spain, and taleggio, from Italy, is one of my new favorites… semi-soft, creamy, and a little stinky. All three are made from unpasteurized cow’s milk.

They were out of baguettes but who cares, their bread is nothing special. I ended up getting a loaf of sourdough that I crisped in the oven and served it with sweet unsalted butter (I buy Lurpak from Denmark).

Why is good bread so hard to find in Atlanta? So frustrating! Tomorrow I am going to Bakeshop, Jonathan St. Hilaire’s new bakery/eatery, hopefully I will leave with a real French-style baguette and croissant too! I’ll keep you posted.

LG and I enjoyed my cheese presentation along with a bottle of red Lambrusco and half a bottle of d’Arenberg Stump Jump (yes, I didn’t drink the whole bottle!). Neighbors C & N stopped by as we tore into a rotisserie chicken, butternut squash, and braised red cabbage that LG salvaged after it scorched (good job!).

Then it was time for the requisite champagne. I like Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut when I’m pinching pennies, Veuve Cliquot when I’m not. It was a Gloria kind of year! A bar of Chocolove’s dark with cherries and almonds was a sweet end to the meal and my first bite in what promises to be an exciting year!

Happy New Year Hot Dish honeys!

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