Category Archives: modern and contemporary

Recipe of the Week

Baked Figs with Honey Creme Fraiche

Baked Figs with Honey Creme Fraiche

These amazing figs were prepared in my last Cookbook Club and were adapted from a recipe in Elizabeth David’s A Book of Mediterranean Food of 1950. 

“In a fireproof dish arrange some slightly under-ripe unpeeled figs. Put in a little water, sprinkle them with sugar and bake them (as for baked apples). Serve them cold, with cream.”

For the figs:
1 ½ pounds fresh figs, halved
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1 tablespoon sugar

For the honey-crème fraiche:
8 ounces crème fraiche
1 tablespoon honey

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Put the figs, cut side up, in a baking dish. Divide the vanilla bean evenly among the figs.

Brush the tops of the figs with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until very soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

While the figs are baking, mix the crème fraiche and honey together.

To serve, place 2 to 3 figs in a bowl with a dollop of honey-crème fraiche.

Serves 4 to 6

image by Megan Griffith

Potato and Green Bean Salad with Herbs

Potato and Green Bean Salad with Herbs

Alexandre Dumas in his Grand Dictionnaire de cuisine (Great Dictionary of Cuisine) of 1873 wrote that the potato “provides real nourishment and is not only healthful but inexpensive.”

2 pounds small waxy potatoes
6 ounces haricots verts
½ cup scallions, chopped
½ cup chopped tarragon and parsley
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Place the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough cold water to more than cover them. Generously salt the water and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a colander placed in the sink and let cool.

Bring the water in the saucepan back to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for about 2 minutes, until the beans are bright green and almost tender yet still retain a little crispness. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice water. Using a slotted spoon, scoop the green beans from the boiling water to the ice water and let them chill for a minute or so. Drain the beans and pat them dry.

When the potatoes are still warm but cool enough to touch, slice about ¼-inch thick. Cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces. Put the potatoes, green beans, and herbs in a large bowl and gently toss.

Make a vinaigrette by whisking the mustard, garlic, vinegar, and oil in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Gently mix some of the vinaigrette into the potato and green bean mixture. Taste and adjust with more salt or vinaigrette as desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8

Rompope

Rompope

The first rompope was made by nuns in the Santa Clara convent in Puebla, Mexico in the 17th century, a derivation of Spanish ponche de huevo. At the time, the Catholic Church was prominent in government and society, and convents often hosted visiting officials and religious dignitaries. As such, fine cuisine was developed in the cloisters with the Clarists garnering much acclaim for their confections and sweets.

6 cups whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
pinch nutmeg
rind of 1 lemon (remove with a vegetable peeler, being careful to avoid the bitter white pith)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
2/3 cup ground almonds or ground pine nuts
1 ¼ cup rum

Bring milk, cinnamon, cloves, pinch nutmeg, lemon rind, vanilla, and baking soda to a boil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar, and ground almonds until thick and pale.

Remove cinnamon, cloves, and lemon rind from the milk and discard.

Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk to the yolk mixture.

Return mixture to pan and cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

When cool, stir in rum or aguardiente and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

(recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Baby Avocados with Orange and Olives

Baby Avocados with Orange and Olives

Between 1934 and 1935 Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas spent 7 months traveling through the United States. In Toklas’s “Food in the United States” chapter she refers to the trip as, “an experience and adventure, which nothing that might follow would ever equal.”

Of California she wrote, “California was unequalled. Sun and a fertile soil breed generosity and gentleness, amiability and appreciation. It was abundantly satisfying. In Pasadena amongst olive and orange groves we saw our first avocado trees and their fruit offered for salt stacked in great pyramids, almost as common as tomatoes would be later in the season.”

2 oranges
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup parsley, minced
1 tablespoon thyme
3 tablespoons chopped olives
salt and white pepper
6 to 8 baby Hass avocados
3 tablespoons olive oil

Zest the oranges into a small bowl, making sure to stop when you start to see the white pith.

Supreme the oranges. Cut off each end of the orange and set upright on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, slice off the pith, following the contours of the fruit, moving from top to bottom, cutting as little of the flesh away as possible. Repeat with the other orange.

Roughly chop the orange flesh and add it to the bowl with the zest. Add the garlic, parsley, thyme, and olives and season generously with salt and white pepper. Toss to combine.

Halve the avocados lengthwise, remove the pits, and fill each cavity with about 1 tablespoons of orange mixture. Arrange them on a platter, drizzle generously with olive oil, and serve.

Serves 6 to 8