My neurotic nature rubbed off on my hot gf this week when I made her return figs she had purchased after 4 went moldy overnight. If you’ve never worked with fresh figs before, they don’t stay fresh for very long (as we’ve come to realize). Apparently you’re supposed to keep them in the coldest part of your fridge and will get a max three-day life span out of them. Unfortunately my hot gf had not googled this information until after leaving them out overnight, though I don’t think this warranted mold forming. For $8 a carton, it didn’t matter either way–she was getting her money back. That’s all she had to tell me: mold-free or not, I never even would have bought the things. I would have seen “figs: $8″ and said, “Oh well, guess I’ll be making something else.” Thankfully my hot gf isn’t as cheap as me, or else we’d probably update you with canned bean recipes every week.
Later that day, she found herself figless and desparate.
“I’ve gone to 3 stores and I can’t find them! I’m going to have to resort to dried figs,” she frantically exclaimed via text while I sat home in front of my computer for the third straight hour debating whether to enroll in a Photoshop class in the city. I want to better myself professionally, but am on a budget so I find the least expensive thing I tend to do is nothing. Had I known no store within a 20 mile radius of New Jersey was selling figs (Whole Foods included), I would have recommended she get a prorated portion back for the 4 moldy figs rather than return all of them. I may be frugal, but I’m considerate enough not to completely inconvenience her. That would be $3.67 please.
I apologized for convincing her to return the figs in the first place, since she would not be in this predicament otherwise. Then I offered her the most logical solution I could come up with: go back to the original store, re-buy the returned figs, and pick up however many dried ones would be needed to make up the difference. Meanwhile, I know nothing about the recipe and still can’t figure out why she ever listens to me.
Chef’s note: The inspiration for this appetizer came from an Anne Burrell recipe I saw on the Food Network. I got it into my head I wanted to make this. Later a Google search revealed the fig season had ended in October, so the likelihood of finding fresh figs was going to be slim. However, we live in an area where the impossible is possible and produce is shipped in from all over the world for folks like me who just cannot wait for a product to be “in season”.
Nevertheless, she managed to pull together a great dish with the salvaged figs and the dried substitutions. Although the recipe does call for fresh figs, the differences are subtle. Unless you’re eating both side-by-side comparatively, you won’t notice the slight difference in composition, or the fact that the dried ones tend to be smaller in size. The taste remains the same and with the bacon-like prosciutto around them do you really think anyone will give a shit? “Hey, wait a minute…these are dried figs!” If you associate with people this pretentious you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.
The point is, you shouldn’t go to 15 stores looking for fresh figs. If you are pressed to find them, don’t let this discourage you from making this recipe: dried figs will work just fine too.
Chef’s note: When a fruit dries its natural sugars develop and it becomes sweeter – for me this was the biggest difference between dried and fresh. If you are going to use dried make sure you reconstitute them so they regain some life. I did this by boiling some water in a small saucepan and then turning off the heat and adding in the figs. They sat there for about 20 minutes and became plump and soft. I didn’t flavor the water at all, because I did not want any competing flavors in my dish.
With a crispy prosciutto exterior and an irrestible goat cheese filling at the center of each succulent fig, this makes for a savory-sweet treat that is hard to beat–and was tough to resist the urge to eat at her uncle’s belated Christmas party. After putting about 25 of them on a 3 tier serving tower, they were gone within minutes. This was amongst stiff competition from other decandent apps, like crab puff pastries and white bean cabbage rollups prepped by her uncle and father respectively. Her family are quite the cooks all-around. It’s a bit unnerving always having to eat the gourmet food they make. It’s also making me fat.
Chef’s note: This is only because the boyfriend chooses to have seconds and sometimes thirds. I’ve started to make meals that do not allow for leftovers so this is no longer an option.
I made her this photo book for Christmas that tracks our past year of travels in pictures (obviously). The book is pretty much just a timeline of my weight gain amongst scenic photos. “Oh there’s a picturesque California sunset. And there’s Vin barely fitting in the driver’s seat of a Corvette. And there’s Allison in a bikini. And there’s Vin blocking the sunset.” The first thing my sister said upon opening it was, “Wow—you’ve put alot of weight on since then.” Hey, give me a break! That photo of me in a ginny tee in Puerto Rico last January was our first of many gluttonous experiences together.
Chef’s note: I love this book – It was the best gift I received. We had a great year together, and I love that I am able to share that with my family and friends. That being said it is funny to look at pictures from January and then December. As my dad was fanning through the pages like a flip book he said “we could probably see Vinnie growing as I do this!”
I tried to do P90X ab ripper today and nearly cried. I couldn’t even get past the bicycle portion (i.e. the leg warmup), the second exercise thirty seconds in after “crunchy frog”, a motion that entails hugging your legs 25 times. Pathetic. If only P90X were as easy as popping prosciutto-wrapped figs in your mouth, then I’d be cut like steel.
Instead, I feel like a fig, stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in prosciutto. And so long as my hot gf keeps cooking for me, a prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese-stuffed fig I will be. Come feeding time, there is no prouder pig. I’d like to see Tony Horton try my workout: P90XL. It consists of eating 25 prosciutto-wrapped goat cheese figs in 30 seconds. Bring it!
Prosciutto & Goat Cheese Figs
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer
- 6 fresh figs, 6 dried figs OR 10 fresh figs OR 15 dried figs (You can really make as many or few as you want - these are merely suggested amounts)
- balsamic vinegar for coating the figs
- crushed red pepper
- 1/2 lb of proscuitto di parma (it is a main ingredient - you really want the good stuff! You will also likely have some leftover but I don’t know anyone that would a problem with this)
- 3-4 oz. goat cheese (you might need a bit more if you are using all fresh figs)
- EVOO for brushing the figs
Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.
Reconstitute dried figs: boil water in a small saucepan. When it is boiling turn off the heat and add in the figs. Let sit for about 20 minutes until they plump and become soft.
Put a cooling rack over a large baking pan. You want to cook these on the rack so the fat drips down onto the pan. Make sure both are coated with non-stick spray. You can also cover the baking sheet in parchment paper if you have it.
- *While the dried figs are reconstituting, start with your fresh figs. Wash the figs under cold water, cut the stems off and then cut in half.
- Put a very small amount of balsamic vinegar on the fleshy portion of the fig - really just brush some on to coat. Add a couple of crushed red pepper flakes.
- Spoon about a tbsp. of fresh goat cheese on the fig - you might use less depending on the size. Pack in the goat cheese and then wrap with about half a slice of the proscuitto. You might need a bit more than half - you want the entire fig covered.
- Brush the fig with EVOO and put on the rack. Repeat this for all figs.
- **Bake for about 15 minutes - turning halfway through. You want the prosciutto to be crispy like bacon. Yum.
- ***Let these cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
*Note: some of the cheese will likely ooze out - this is normal.
**Note: If you are using dried figs the process is exactly the same, but you are only going to use about a tsp. of the goat cheese per fig. ***Note: Mine were done about an hour before they were going to be served. I kept them in a warm oven during this time. However, they can also be refrigerated and then warmed up if you want to make them ahead.