Sunday, August 31, 2008

Yes, I'm still here!

I haven't forgotten my blog, not at all. In fact, I spend a little time every day feeling guilty that there is nothing new posted for the past few months. As always, the end of school was very busy, then we were off to Hawai'i the day after. Sixteen days later, our plane landed at home, and eight hours after that, I was on another plane to Baltimore for a conference. A couple of weeks at home trying to catch up on a year's worth of tasks didn't leave much time for cooking, then I was back at work.

There have been a few new things here and there that I will share over the next few days, but we've relied a lot on improvisation and stand-bys. Tonight, I wanted to show you a light dessert that had us pretty much licking the dishes. Since our traveling wings are clipped by the resumption of the school year, we have to rely on food to take us to exotic destinations. For some reason, it is foods of the Mediterranean and the Middle East that most often do that for me. It is those foods that you can sit down with, knowing that you might have a counterpart thousands of miles away, eating the very same type of thing--not in a fancy restaurant, but outside watching a sunset, or around the table with her family.

This recipe was born out of the fact that I had figs--too many to eat out of hand. The figs were the result of an overly ambitious trip to Costco. So were the mangoes, pineapple, grape tomatoes, and oh so many other things, but that's another story. I borrowed technique from a Nigella recipe, then went with my instincts.

The figs are prepared by slicing them almost all the way through in quarters, then fitting them into a buttered baking dish close together, but opened just a little bit. I used about a dozen. Melt about half a stick of butter, and stir in a generous 1/4 cup of sugar and a drizzle of vanilla. Pour it over the figs, especially into the open area. Roast the figs in a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

In the meantime, spoon some Greek yogurt into a dish, topping it with a drizzle of honey and some chopped almonds. When the figs are out of the oven, let them cool just a bit, then spoon them over the yogurt along with a bit of their syrup. Top with another dollop of honey and scatter some more chopped almonds over the top. (Nigella recommends pistachios, which would also be good. I even like the idea of pignolias.) Quick and low maintenance, and much cheaper than a trip to Greece.