Friday, July 20, 2012

For the Love of Figs!

Cookbooks! There are so many on the market these days that it really has to be something special to spark my interest. "Plats du Jour; The Girl and the Fig's Journey Through Seasons in Wine Country"  by Sandra Bernstein has not only sparked my interest but captured my heart. In this book Restaurateur Sandra Bernstein and her Executive Chef John Toulze share their love of seasonal French-country cooking mouthwatering recipes, pictures and wine pairings. It also highlights the bountiful ingredients available seasonally in Sonoma Wine Country (where the restaurant The Girl and the Fig is located).  

I recreated two recipes from the book. The first is a simple, and elegant appetizer;  

Goat Cheese and Lavender Honey Toasts (pg 39). It's simply honey simmered with lavender and then whipped together with goat cheese and a little heavy cream and dolloped onto a crustini! For extra flair I added some additional lavender to the plate as well.
 If I were starting a party with this, my pic for a dynamic wine pairing would be a Rose from Sancerre. My favorite is Domaine Vacheron's Rose! It's crisp and light with notes of strawberry, lemon, thyme, and a hint of lavender.

The second recipe from the book is a twist on a French classic dessert; the Clafoutis. Traditionally it is made with cherries and is a cross between a pudding and a cake. As my French friend Ivanne has said, it's so rustic a dessert that growing up she and her Grandmother never even pitted the cherries!  The twist in this recipe is it's a Fig Clafoutis (pg 158) and as figs are in season now I used beautiful fresh ones (although the recipe gives you the dried fig alternative as well.)
One tip that I took from this recipe that is really a good one is to
strain your batter so that it is creamy and smooth going into your dish. This will give your finished product a glorious custard like texture!

I liked the wine pairings offered for this dessert a lot. They suggested either a domestic JC Cellars Late Harvest, Marsanne, Ripken Vineyards from Lodi California or M. Chapoutier Rasteau, Cotes du Rhone from France. Now I must find both to try with the recipe!
I must go now as I have a beautiful dessert to dig into and as I don't have either of the suggested pairings on hand I'll opt for a little glass of Orange Columbo (it's meant to be an aperitif, but rules are meant to be broken!) instead that I fell in love with on my last trip to Provence. It offers notes of orange blossom, orange peel and a little herbal bitter taste on the finish which I love!

If you are someone who loves to cook with what is seasonal and fresh and love the flavors of Sonoma Wine Country and French country style cooking I can not recommend this cookbook enough...and did I mention....there are cocktail recipes too!?


1 comment:

Julie {Bananas for Bourbon} said...

The clafoutis looks glorious! I'm salivating for summer fruits and rose. :)