18 June 2012

Figs and Bacon

The farmer's market at the Ferry Building in SF is an oddity; both a large tourist draw as well as a favorite of locals. Unlike the Powell-Hyde/Powell-Mason cable car lines, Fisherman's Wharf, and Alcatraz, the number of tourists at the market Saturday morning is likely less than locals. In addition to finding the rare and elusive mingling of tourists and locals (see also "Dolores Park" and "Alamo Square"), one can usually find meal inspiration. Sitting on a bench with E, drinking morning inspiration, she mentioned making pasta dough was really easy and we decided to add it to the "cook sometime" list. Otherwise, our goal was some fruit with which to make sorbet and something for dinner.
We rambled through the market, looking for tasty things. My wonderful discovery last week of tiny brussels was not to be repeated, though E spied some lavender to pretty up my place with. We also impulse-purchased some figs; I thought on a whim, but E had something in mind for them. Having completed a loop, we decided the lavender would go great with blueberry so off I went to get a basket. I also asked the mushroom man for some recommendations as I've been attempting to convince my taste buds of them; he suggested a variety I can't remember the name of for a pasta primavera. A meal had formed - pasta primavera with homemade noodles.
Now, as is often the case, I was mistaken on the matter of a pasta primavera. E suggested we add carrots and peas; I replied that, no, the dish was just deconstructed mushroom sauce. It wasn't until this morning, several days after devouring the meal, I discovered my error. According to the great settler of debates, Wikipedia most decidedly decided in E's favor - carrots and peas are in. Oh well, oh well. It was still good, though not the star of the meal. That would be these figs:
Warmed figs, with bacon, garlic, rosemary, and lavender topped with the smallest amount of goat cheese. This is based on a recipe from The Herbal Kitchen that E had been eyeing for quite some time and even, apparently, planned for the figs from the get-go. An aside on this book: I have yet to make anything less than excellent from it; these are simple, restaurant-worthy dishes in home kitchen-worthy preps. The figs, though, the figs! I would gladly eat these again, then have even more of them after. Most of the prep can be done an hour or more in advance of eating them, at which point they need only five minutes in a warmed oven, making them perfect for lightening a cooking load.
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Warm Figs With Bacon and Goat Cheese
Makes enough for 2 people to devour, but scales well
3 ripe figs
2 pieces bacon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
rosemary (fresh is better)
lavender (fresh is better)
goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Cook bacon in a pan, rendering the fat out and crisping it. When the bacon is crisped, remove and pat dry. Pour of some, but not all, of the bacon grease - keep roughly a tablespoon or so, enough to lightly coat the pan. Add the minced garlic and herbs to the pan, cooking for a few minutes until the garlic is slightly browned; remove from heat. Dice the garlic into small pieces, eating some, then add back to the pan with garlic and mix. Slice each fig in half and, using a spoon or thumb, create a depression in the center of each. Spoon some of the mixture into each of the figs. Five minutes before you want to eat them, add a tiny dollop of goat cheese to each and place in oven for five minutes. Eat immediately.
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Homemade Pasta
Serves 2
1 egg
twice as much semolina flour as egg, by weight
tsp olive oil
pinch salt

First, a note: don't use 100% semolina flour, as we did. 50/50 semolina/all-purpose is probably better. In a small bowl, mix the salt and flour together. Form a divot in the middle. Break the egg yolk with your finger, mix it around a little, then put it in the divot with the tsp olive oil. Mix, lightly, by hand to incorporate the ingredients. It should form a nice dough. Knead, flouring as necessary, for 10 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover to let the gluten rest for 30 minutes.

Prepare a pot of water to boil, with a little salt. Lightly dust a work surface in semolina flour and pull out the rolling pin. Roll the pasta into a thin sheet. No, thinner than that. As thin as you can manage, and then some. Really thin. Doing this by hand is hard. Once rolled, cut into desired shape. Boil for a few minutes, until done. Eat at once.

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