11/04
2013

Wine Poached Fig and Sheep’s Milk Ricotta Crostini

By Caroline Fey

Wine Poached Fig & Ricotta Crostini

Wine Poached Fig Crostini

This is one of my favorite fall hors d’oeuvres because the dried fruit, warm spices and red wine make me think of cold nights, autumn leaves and the holiday season that is fast approaching. You can poach the figs and make the ricotta mixture in advance and assemble the crostini right before your guests arrive, which makes entertaining easy. The fig’s poaching liquid turns into a beautiful, garnet colored syrup and it pairs perfectly with the tangy sheep’s milk ricotta. If you can’t find sheep’s milk ricotta just stir some crumbled goat cheese into whole cow’s milk ricotta and you will achieve a similar result. The figs are also the perfect accompaniment to a pan seared duck breast, venison tenderloin, or even just a wedge of blue cheese and will keep for months in your fridge.

Active Time: 45 minutes
Makes 40

Ingredients

Crostini

1 sweet baguette – I like to leave my baguettes out overnight before making crostini to dry them out a bit. It helps make more even rounds.
½ cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed with the back of a knife
Kosher salt
Pepper

Sheep’s Milk Ricotta

1 12-oz container sheep’s milk ricotta – I use Bellweather Farms*
1 tablespoon olive oil
¼ cup finely grated Pecorino cheese
¼ teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper
*If you can’t find sheep’s milk ricotta use 10-oz whole milk ricotta and 2-oz crumbled goat cheese

Wine Poached Figs

20 dried Black Mission figs, stems removed, cut in half
1½ cups dry red wine
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed with the back of a knife
1 2-inch piece of orange rind, shaved with a vegetable peeler
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 large thyme sprig
1 teaspoon salt

Micro arugula or fresh thyme leaves for garnish

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Crostini

Thinly slice the baguette into 40 ½-inch thick rounds. Pour ½ cup of olive oil into a bowl and add the garlic clove. Stir the oil with your pastry brush.

Place the crostini on two baking sheets and brush the tops with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating half way through. Cool.

Sheep’s Milk Ricotta

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Spoon the ricotta into a pastry bag or large ziplock baggie and seal, pressing any extra air out. Right before assembling, cut a dime size hole on one of the corners of the baggie.

Wine Poached Figs

Bring figs and remaining ingredients to a boil in a saucepan. Turn the heat down and simmer until the wine has reduced to a syrup, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, transfer to a bowl and let figs cool in syrup. Remove the garlic cloves, orange rind and thyme.

To Serve

Place the crostini on a serving platter. Pipe about 1 tablespoon of ricotta spread onto each crostini. Top each with a fig half and drizzle small spoonfuls of the syrup over the crostini. Garnish with micro arugula or fresh thyme leaves.

11/04
2013

Fried Brussel Sprouts with Lemon-Herb Aioli

By Caroline Fey

Fried Brussel Sprouts

Fried Brussel Sprouts with Aioli

This dish was inspired by the fried brussel sprouts at Delarosa Restaurant on Chestnut Street in the marina. We used a deep sauté pan and a generous splash of olive oil and they were crispy and delicious in no time. The aioli can be prepared in a blender in about 5 minutes, and is great slathered on a burger or as a dip for sweet potato fries.

For an easy weeknight meal, brush a thick layer of the aioli on a salmon, halibut or any other firm fish filet and sprinkle ¼ cup of panko breadcrumbs on top, pressing to adhere. Drizzle the panko with a little olive oil and bake the fish for 8 to 10 minutes at 425° F, or until just cooked through. The panko should be lightly golden and crispy. Serve with sautéed veggies and quinoa with toasted almonds.

Active Time: 30 minutes
Serves 6 as an hors d’oeuvre or side dish

Ingredients

Fried Brussel Sprouts

1 cup olive oil
½ cup canola oil*
1½ lbs brussel sprouts, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons Maldon sea salt

*adding canola oil to the olive oil will allow the olive oil to get hotter without burning. Canola oil has a much higher burn temperature than olive oil and helps when frying foods at a high temperatures.

Lemon-Herb Aioli

2 cups good mayonnaise
¼ cup capers
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
½ cup roughly chopped parsley leaves
¼ cup packed basil leaves
¼ cup roughly chopped chives
¼ cup roughly chopped dill fronds
1 tablespoon packed thyme leaves
2 teaspoons roughly chopped oregano leaves
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Fried Brussel Sprouts

Heat a large, deep sauté pan or braising pot over high heat for two to three minutes. Add the olive oil and canola oil and swirl gently. Let the oil heat for one minute, or until shimmering and very hot. Carefully add half of the brussel sprouts – be careful, they will sputter! Let the brussel sprouts fry for 1 minute. Toss gently and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the brussel sprouts are deep golden brown at the edges and tender inside.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussel sprouts to a paper towel lined baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle with sea salt and repeat with remaining brussel spouts.

Lemon-Herb Aioli

Put all if the ingredients together in a blender and process until smooth. Can be made a day in advance. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

To Serve

Transfer the brussel sprouts to a serving bowl and put the aioli in a small bowl or ramekin. Serve hot.

11/04
2013

Grilled Shrimp and Cherry Pepper Spedini with Salsa Verde Dipping Sauce

By Caroline Fey

Grilled Shrimp Spedini

Grilled Shrimp Spedini

Spedini are little Italian skewers that are grilled and usually served with a dipping sauce. The word Spiedini comes from the Italian word Spiedo, which means spit – Spiedini means “little spits”. These spedini are perfect for a casual weekend party and can be grilled on a barbecue or cooked on a griddle pan on your stove. The Salsa Verde dipping sauce is simple and bright, and comes together in a few minutes in a blender. If you don’t have a blender, or want a chunkier version of salsa verde, just finely chop the ingredients and mix them together in a bowl. If you have any left over, use it as a marinade for chicken or fish.

Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves 10 as an hors d’oeuvre or side dish

Ingredients

Spedini

40 medium peeled and deveined shrimp
1 teaspoon packed lemon zest
½ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
2 16-oz jars sweet Italian cherry peppers, cut in half horizontally, stems left intact

Chopped parsley leaves for garnish
20 bamboo skewers (I used 6-inch skewers)

Salsa Verde

½ cup packed flat leaf parsley leaves
½ cup packed basil leaves
¼ cup packed mint leaves
1 tablespoon roughly chopped oregano leaves
¾ cup olive oil
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon anchovy paste
1 tablespoon capers
¼ cup chopped scallions – white and green parts
¼ cup lemon juice
Pinch of red chili flakes
½ teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Spedini

Whisk the lemon zest, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Place the cut cherry peppers and skewers near the shrimp. Skewer two shrimp and two halves of cherry peppers on each skewer, alternating. Set on a baking sheet and repeat with remaining skewers.
Heat your grill or grill pan over medium-high heat and brush generously with olive oil. Once hot, grill the spedini for 2 to 3 minutes per side, 5 to 6 minutes total. Don’t move the spedini once they have been placed on the grill to ensure nice grill marks and even cooking. The shrimp should be pink throughout when fully cooked. Transfer the spedini to a serving platter.

Salsa Verde

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until mixture is well blended, like a smooth salsa. If the mixture is too thick, add an extra squeeze of lemon and a splash of olive oil.

To Serve

Sprinkle the spedini with chopped parsley and serve with the dipping sauce on the side.

The City Kitchen
  • The City Kitchen is a way for me to share ideas, recipes and techniques from our kitchen in the city by the bay. My cooking highlights local ingredients with accents from San Francisco’s international neighborhoods. Enjoy!
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