Ripe Figs with Ricotta & Honey

It is a given; if i were to find myself naked, roaming the garden of Eden, I surely would be occupied with plucking and eating figs. Not with modesty <strong<of.any.sort. Figs are good fresh or dried, plain & gilded. For a simple and gorgeous treat; serve these as an appetizer or dessert.

Gilded Figs
ripe fresh figs
ricotta cheese (fresh if you can get it)
sea salt
toasted walnuts

Slice the figs in half, and put a generous scoop of fresh ricotta on top. Drizzle your best honey to just cover the ricotta, sprinkle a few grains of sea salt and top with a walnut half. Serve chilled or room temperature.
tastes great accompanying a cold glass of Prosecco

Roasted Radish and Bacon Tartine

Not so long ago, I roasted radish for a delicious salad. I loved it, but Mike did not. I wondered how a veggie lovin’ girl and a meat lovin’ guy could agree on radish. A radish referendum, if you will. Here it is. Radish mellowed by roasting; spiced with a sauce of its greens, layered on a toasted whole-grain raft and joined by bacon and soft goat cheese.

Levain Bread

It isn’t true that graduating from le cordon bleu in baking and patisserie makes you a fearless baker. I know. I have a diplome; yet the seemingly innocent combination of yeast, flour, salt and water gives me the shakes. Or, should i say
gave. On a bit of a whim, I signed up for a course at The Institute for Domestic Technology. I came for the goats, but i stayed for the bread.

Levain Bread
recipe from erik knutzen
(full recipe with detailed instructions here)
100 grams starter
250 grams white flour
250 grams whole wheat flour
375 grams filtered water
10 grams sea salt
Stir together the starter and water until dissolved. Mix in the flour until water and flour are incorporated. Do not knead, just get the flour fully combined. cover and allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes. Add the salt and mix together with wet hands. Cover. At the end of the 1st hour turn dough onto a floured surface. Hold one end of the dough and with your other hand, pull the other end to stretch. Fold the stretched end on top of it. Give the dough a half turn and repeat the stretch and fold. Place the dough back in the bowl, cover and let sit.
At the end of hour 2; repeat the stretch and pull and put back in the bowl. cover. At the end of hour 3 or 3 1/2: turn the dough onto a floured surface. Begin to shape the boule. Take the dough and pull the sides together as if you are making a beggar’s purse, press the edges together and pick up the dough. turn it over in your hands and turn to form a round.
Place the dough, round side down in a heavily floured proofing basket or in a bowl lined with heavily floured baking canvas/or cloth. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 3 1/2 hours or overnight in the refrigerator (preferred)
When ready to bake:
You will be baking this in an dutch oven. Preheat oven and cooking pot to 500 degrees. Turn the bread out of its basket or bowl onto a floured surface. Use a razor blade to score a 4″ square on the top of the bread. Once the oven/pot is up to temperature, plop the bread in the pot, round side up. Cover and let bake for 25 minutes. Remove the top and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes. The bread should be nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped. Allow to cool for 1 hour before eating

Granola Pancakes

I’m not sure why I seem to believe that every time I make and/or eat pancakes it is a blog-worthy event. Even I am beginning to tire of me*grin*.
But listen, the reason these pancakes are so special is that they were inspired by breakfast at a general store in Noank, Connecticut. when we walked into Carson’s General Store, it was like walking back in time.

In this fairytale town adjacent to Mystic, we sat at a small table at the back of the store watching the old-timers in their morning ritual of chatting and collecting their daily read. Carafes of coffee emptied as the village crier did her position proud. This family-owned spot is over a 100 years old makes a damn fine granola pancake. This is NOT the recipe, because that is one piece of gossip they wouldn’t tell. I came up with my own facsimile….which is a bit less fluffy because I’m a less fluff and more substance kind of gal.

Granola Pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3-1/2 cup dark brown sugar (i use less sugar because we use a lot of maple syrup around here, and I don’t like them getting too sweet)
2 eggs
2 cups milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup (approx) granola
butter or pan spray for cooking
Mix all ingredients except the granola together and let rest for about 30 minutes.  After you pour the batter to the desired shape/size sprinkle granola across the top–it will cause the pancake to spread a bit.  Cook as normal and flip when ready.  serve with a bit of butter and lots of maple syrup.  

I love you a bushel and a peck

Nothing says autumn like a basket of just-picked crunchy, barely-sweet apples; imperfect,  in need of a good shine courtesy of my shirt sleeve.
There is little I can resist the fall colors begin to show in most of the country.
Here I sit in Southern California adjusting my air conditioning , wishing I were elsewhere.

Last week Mike and iI were in Connecticut, taking in the beauty of New England from our perch in a historic lighthouse. Late mornings spent driving windy back roads in search of antique shops and roadside stands. One morning, we stumbled upon an old cider mill.

It looked like a movie location for movies they don’t really make anymore. Being September, it was too early in the season which meant we couldn’t watch the mill in action, but as a consolation prize they served freshly made donuts. I’d show you a photo, but eating and shooting are difficult. Eating wins out every time. They were pretty goodbut not real apple-y and I like apple-y

In these instances, I am problematic. I began obsessing and articulating and talking about what I like about apple donuts and why apple fritters are actually better than donuts because of the apple pieces, and on and on and on. By the time we got back to the kitchen, with cider and apples in hand, I had a plan.

Apple Fritters

1 cup crisp apples–cut in a 1/4″ dice
1 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs lemon juice
pinch cardamom
pinch nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
mix together in a bowl and let sit while you do your preparations
for the batter

1 cup apple cider
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 Tbs unsalted butter–melted
2 large eggs
oil for frying
Simmer the apple cider on the stove until it is reduced to 1/4 cup, and let cool.
 Heat your oil in a sturdy deep pot, to 360F.  your oil should be deep enough so the fritter can float, but you must also have at least 3″ between the top of the pot and the top of the oil. 
 Meanwhile, place all your dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.  Make a well in the center and pour in milk, vanilla, butter, cider and eggs.  Slowly stir together, making sure all ingredients are incorporated, but do not beat.  Stir in the apple and any juices that may have accumulated. You can make these small or big, the process is the same.  Drop into hot oil and then using a spatula poke it a few times to flatten it a bit and give it some nooks and crannies.  Fry until golden brown, then flip and continue until both sides are equally colored. Remove from oil and place on a cooling rack, placed over a sheet pan.

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp agar agar powder (optional)
2 Tbs (more or less) cider
mix together in a shallow bowl.  when the fritters are still warm, but not too hot to touch, dip in the glaze. Serve warm or room temp.

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