logoEat - Drink - Protest

A culture blog by Lauren Girardin, a San Francisco-based city girl who eats out and kicks about.

September 14, 2006

Hot Fig Salad

Hot. Cold. Salty. Earthy. Creamy. Crunchy. Stinky. Sweet. Bitter. Hammy. Gooey.
Makes 4 servings.

For the figs

8 ripe figs (Mission figs here, with the near-black purple skin)
4 oz blue cheese (the stinkier the better, Wikipedia can tell you all 'bout blue cheese)
1/4 lb thin sliced parma prociutto (in SF, I shop at Lucca's Ravioli Co. for Italian products)

For the rest

8 cups loosely packed baby arugula (or baby spinach, if ye be brave)
2 cups toasted walnut halves
1 T dijon mustard
2 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T balsamic vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper

Ready: Pre-heat the broiler in your full-sized oven or in your toaster oven. Rinse and dry your arugula; it's a delicate green, a salad spinner does the job best.

For the figs

Prep: Cut stems off figs and slice each in half the long way. Push a finger tip gently into the middle of each fig half; this indentation will hug the cheese. Cut or crumble the blue cheese into 16 equal pieces. Cut each slice o'prociutto the long way so you wind up with 16 strips a 1/2 inch wide.
Assemble: Cram a piece of cheese into a fig half. Wrap a strip of prociutto around the cheese-stuffed-fig like a salty hammy belt. Put the fig half cheese-side up on a small tray and reapeat with the rest of the figs. If your guests arrive early, this is something they can help you with if you trust them to not nibble. Keep an eye on 'em anyway. It's hard to trust people around figs.

...Get'em hot. Put the tray of figs under the broiler for just a minute or two. You want to crisp the prociutto and melt the cheese.

...While you're broiling. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste to make a simple vinagrette. Don't use some crud from a bottle. Grab an arugula leaf and dip it in the vinagrete to taste your dressing. Adjust the ingredients as you like to suit your tongue and your arugula.

Set: Don't forget to take the figs outta the oven. Put the well-dried arugula in a large serving bowl. Right before serving, drizzle half your vinagrette - don't dump all of it at once though, overdressed salad is the most depressing thing - on the arugula and gently toss to coat; your hands are the best, gentle tools for this. If you need more dressing, put more on, a few teaspoons at a time. Wash your salady hands.
Present: Divide the arugula into four bowls. Give each bowl a fourth of the nuts. Stack the hot figs on top of the salad like boats tossed onto a beach after a storm. Crack pepper over the salad. Serve it up immediately, while the figs are still HOT.

August 28, 2006

When baked ziti meets pizza, life knows no bounds

New York pizza

Blessed New York pizza. The left is topped with eggplant Parmesan, which - for the uninitiated - is breaded and fried thin slices of eggplant, layered in a deep dish with tomato sauce, mozzarella and blobs of ricotta baked to bubbling.

The right is buried under baked ziti, typically a casserole-like dish where ziti pasta tubes are tossed with tomato sauce, mixed with ricotta, topped with mozzarella and baked until the edges of the ziti develops a salivatingly crunchy edge that works with and against the melted cheeses.

Here, an enterprising pizza man dumped the dishes on top of pizza. The ziti pizza in particular is a masterful experiment in Italian-Italian Fusion cuisine.

New York pizza
Other choices included (top shelf) sausage rolls, calzones, and pizzas including: (three closest, from left) fresh tomato and basil, chicken, and tomato sauce-less white pizza.

A key difference in New York pizza preparation is that the pizza is made then left to rest and cool on the counter for hours. You pick your slice and it is reheated in in one minute a blazing hot oven. Something about allowing the pizza to rest combined with re-baking makes the 'za sublime.

After enduring months of pale, feeble San Francisco pizza, it was a tough choice.

New York pizza rolls
Spinach and pepperoni pizza rolls, eaten as a pre-pizza appetizer by true devotees of 'za.

June 17, 2006

Greek food

While travelling around three Greek Islands in May with Todd, I documented nearly every
mezes and meal we shared. I hope to also add stories about our Greece travels, so check back.

The Mezes Matrix

Day 1
Read Day 1 food
Day 2 Read Day 2 food
Day 3 skipped the
most important
meal of
the day
Read Day 3 food
Day 4 Read Day 4 food
Day 5 Read Day 5 food
Day 6 Read Day 6 food
Day 7 was too
hungry, forgot
to take
the pic
Read Day 7 food
Day 8Read Day 8 food
Day 9Read Day 9 food

These images and more are from my Flickr photos.