21 November 2010

Poached Figs

Sorry for not posting a recipe in so long! It has been quite an exciting past few weeks... I had finals for my MBA classes and I started a new job (yes, I love it). I wanted to make sure that you had this recipe in time for the holidays that are just around the corner. If you are looking for something that can be made in advance and something that will really "WOW" your guests, then look no further. These poached figs were a huge hit at our engagement party the other weekend. My aunt really knows how to throw together an artisan cheese platter with a personal touch. You can buy all the cheeses and those yummy crackers at Whole Foods. Simply make the poached figs a day or two in advance and assemble the cheese platter right before your guests arrive. Hope you enjoy the recipe as much as we did!

Poached Figs
(Recipe from Aunt Bess)
Yield: 8 Servings

12 Fresh Figs
1/4 C. Tawny Port
1/4 C. Full Bodied Red Wine (like Syrah)
3 Tbsp. Honey
1 Strip of Fresh Orange Zest
1/4 C. Orange Juice
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Vanilla Bean, seeds scraped
2 Whole Cardamom Pods, split
2 Whole Cloves
1/2 tsp. Whole Peppercorns

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Put figs in an 8-inch baking dish. Mix all other ingredients in a separate bowl and pour over figs. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove foil, turn figs, and bake uncovered for another 45 minutes. Let cool. Roughly chop the figs and put them in an airtight container. Strain liquid over figs and cover until you need them. This can be made 3 days ahead if you refrigerate it. Serve at room temperature as an accompaniment to artisan cheese and crackers.

Aside: The liquid can be used as a topping for ice cream, or for a twist on Kir Royale - a tiny bit in the bottom of a champagne flute topped with your favorite bubbly!

03 November 2010

Shrimp + Sausage Cioppino

If you are on the search for a new soup recipe, look no further. This soup is hands-down the best soup we've had this fall. It has bold, deep flavors that are perfect for a cold night. We had this as a main course and I served it with crusty sourdough bread from the bakery across the street. I also made a little spinach salad with a simple vinaigrette. Next time I make this, we are going to add a few little tubes of pasta (like ditalini). People, I'm telling you... it was so good that I called up my mom the next morning and told her about it. She made this recipe the next night and my parents raved about it. Make it. You'll thank me later.

Shrimp and Sausage Cioppino
Yield: 4 Servings

1/4 C. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Fennel Bulb, trimmed & chopped into 1/2'' pieces
4 Garlic Cloves, peeled & minced
2 Large or 4 Small Shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp. Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
1 lb. Spicy Italian Turkey Sausage links, casings removed
2 C. White Wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1/4 C. Tomato Paste
3 C. Low-Sodium Chicken Broth (I make my own base)
1 Bay Leaf
1 lb. Large Shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 (15 oz) can Cannellini Beans, rinsed & drained
1 C. Fresh Basil Leaves, chopped
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves, chopped
Serving Suggestion: Crusty Sourdough Bread

In a Dutch oven or a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly softened (about 4 minutes). Add the sausage and break into 1/2-inch pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook until brown (about 5 minutes). Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Stir in the tomato paste, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover the pan and add the shrimp, beans, basil, and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, until the shrimp is pink and cooked through (about 4 minutes). Remove the bay leaf and discard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle the cioppino into soup bowls and serve with crusty bread.