Saturday, August 22, 2009

Fresh Fig and Tomme Quesadillas with Honey-Balsamic Reduction

You don't really need much of a recipe for this one. We didn't have any plans for dinner when we hit Central Market this afternoon, but we happened upon some nice ripe mission figs on sale. I decided then and there to make some quesadillas with them, so we bagged some up and headed off to the cheese department. After tasting several, we went with a sheep and goat blend Tomme. We used the multigrain CM tortillas and topped our quesadillas with a quick honey-balsamic reduction. A simple salad of arugula, spinach and toasted sliced almonds finished everything off.
Oh I must mention that I got curious about goat's milk yogurt at the store, bought some and ended up eating it for dessert....WITH some leftover honey-balsamic sauce and the last of the toasted almonds. Divine!

Fresh Fig and Tomme Quesadillas with Honey-Balsamic Reduction: (serves 2)

4 fresh ripe mission figs, quartered
2- 9 inch tortillas
1/4 lb Tomme (or Etorki), grated
fresh ground black pepper
~1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
~1+ Tbs honey (an orange blossom honey would be nice)

Cook the balsamic vinegar and honey over medium heat in a small saucepan, until reduced by half. Cover and leave in saucepan until ready to drizzle. (Reheat slightly if too thick by the time you go to drizzle on quesadillas)

Lay down a quarter of the grated cheese on one half of the first tortilla.
Place half of the figs on cheese.
Top with another quarter of cheese and a grind of black pepper.
Fold the tortilla in half and repeat with the second tortilla.
Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
Place both tortillas in skillet and heat until cheese melts and tortilla browns lightly.
Flip and heat other side until done.
Remove to plates, cut each in thirds and drizzle with sauce.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Polenta with Tomato-Braised Beans

This is a fairly quick supper to make on a weeknight, especially if you cook the polenta on the stove-top as the original recipe calls for, but now I always use Alton Brown's oven cook method. ~40 minutes covered in the oven, stirring every 10 to keep it lump-free. No muss, very little fuss.
This will be a good one if it ever cools down again.

Polenta with Tomato-Braised Beans:
(adapted from Cooking Light and Alton Brown)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for grilling or sauteing if desired
3/4 cup finely chopped red/white onion
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart chicken stock or broth
1 cup coarse ground cornmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill's medium grind whole cornmeal)
1 scant teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces Parmesan, grated (I use less, probably only 1/2-1 oz)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In an oven-safe saucepan (I use a 2.5 qt) heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the red onion and a pinch of salt and sweat until the onions begin to turn translucent, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, and saute for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic does not burn.

Turn the heat up to high, add the chicken stock, bring to a boil. Gradually add the cornmeal while continually whisking. Once you have added all of the cornmeal, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes to prevent lumps. Once the mixture is creamy, remove from the oven and add the salt, and pepper (the original recipe calls for adding unsalted butter at this stage, which I don't do...maybe add 1 Tb if you want). Once they are incorporated, gradually add the Parmesan.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

While your polenta is baking, heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add parsley and garlic to pan; sauté 1 minute. Add sage and tomatoes; cook 12 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add black pepper, and beans to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve polenta with bean mixture.