The Salted Fig Caramel Sundae

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Come in and try the dessert that Food + Wine named one of America’s Best Salty-Sweet Desserts!

This sundae is everything.

As described by Sondra Bernstein, this bowl of goodness is “definitely an adventure for the taste buds with salty, sweet, tart, cold, warm, chewy, crunchy and velvety—are we missing anything?” Being the ice cream fanatic that I am, this dessert is my dream come true. I can’t decide if my favorite part is the crunchy cocoa nibs, chewy brownie chunks, fresh crème chantilly or the salty fig caramel…together it’s just heavenly. Each bite is a new surprise of deliciousness.

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Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

The legendary sundae is not usually on our menu, but with the 6th annual Sonoma County Restaurant Week happening now, we decided it was the perfect occasion to bring back one of our favorite sweet treats of all time.

The bad news: it’s only on the menu for another week! The good news: you will find it as a mainstay on the dessert menu over at our sister restaurant, The Fig Cafe and Winebar in Glenn Ellen.

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The version we serve over at The Fig Cafe with brandied cherries…mmmmm.

 

So hurry in and get it while it lasts! And if you won’t be in the Sonoma Valley this time, not to worry, you can get some of our Salted Fig Caramel sauce via our online store and make your own version at home. Click here for the Fig Store link.

Happy indulging, fig friends!

Vendredi Vocab: Sous Vide

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Sous-vide (/sˈvd/; French for “under vacuum”) is a method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath or in a temperature-controlled steam environment for longer than normal cooking times—96 hours or more, in some cases—at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55 °C (131 °F) to 60 °C (140 °F) for meats and higher for vegetables. The intention is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and retain moisture.

The method was first described by Sir Benjamin Thompson (Count Rumford) in 1799 (although he used air as the heat transfer medium). It was re-discovered by American and French engineers in the mid-1960s and developed into an industrial food preservation method. The method was adopted by Georges Pralus in 1974 for the Restaurant Troisgros (of Pierre and Michel Troisgros) in Roanne, France. He discovered that when foie gras was cooked in this manner it kept its original appearance, did not lose excess amounts of fat and had better texture. Another pioneer in sous-vide is Bruno Goussault, who further researched the effects of temperature on various foods and became well known for training top chefs in the method. As chief scientist of Alexandria, Virginia-based food manufacturer Cuisine Solutions, Goussault developed the parameters of cooking times and temperatures for various foods.

As may also be done in traditional poaching, sealing the food in sturdy plastic bags keeps in juices and aroma that would otherwise be lost in the process.

Additionally, enclosed spices or ingredients added to the food item transmit their flavor more intensely than during normal cooking.

From a culinary viewpoint the exclusion of air is secondary, but this has practical importance: it allows cooked food to be stored, still sealed and refrigerated, for considerable times, which is especially useful for the catering industry; and it excludes oxygen from food that requires long cooking and is susceptible to oxidation, e.g., fat on meat, which may become rancid with prolonged exposure to air.

Source: Wikipedia Sous Vide

At the girl & the fig we use the sous vide method all the time. At any given moment, you can find something being sous vide in our kitchen. We love the tenderness it gives meats while maintaining the moisture, and the depth of flavors it imparts. For tough fruits or vegetables, it tenderizes them while keeping the rich colors and flavors. Right we are using sous vide for the strawberries and rhubarb on the cheesecake dessert.

Fromage Blanc Cheesecake with a poppy-graham​ crust, rhubarb, strawberries, and mint syrup.

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We are also sous vide-ing the pork loin for our bistro plat du jour entrée this week. The pork loin has been brined and then sous vide, before being pan seared. Placed atop a bed of farro and turnips, and topped with bacon jam, the result is this delicious creation.

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Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi to you!

crispy chicken livers

Let me count the ways we love chicken liver.  As a salad over farm greens, or sauteed with mushrooms and served with a poached and grilled bread.  Not to mention pate.  Currently on the girl & the fig’s menu, a crispy chicken liver sandwich, with black pepper remoulade, pickled fennel, arugula, brioche bun, & a simple salad.

The recipe below comes from Plats du Jour; the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country.  The bacon vinaigrette creates a salty contrast to the tender livers.  Served over crisp winter greens it is simple and sophisticated, but most importantly – incredibly delicious!

Chicken Livers, Warm Bacon Vinaigrette
Serves 6

photo by Steven Krause

photo by Steven Krause

For the livers:
3⁄4 pound chicken livers, cleaned
2 cups whole milk
1⁄2 cup Wondra flour
5 tablespoons blended oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1⁄4 inch strips
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1⁄2 cup champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

For serving:
1⁄4 cup currants, rehydrated in warm water
1 bunch frisée, cleaned
2 heads endive, cleaned and leaves separated
2 medium Chiogga beets, cooked and sliced into 6 wedges each
1⁄4 head radicchio, cleaned and leaves separated

To prepare the livers:
Place the chicken livers in 1 cup of milk and let them soak for 1 hour. Strain the livers and discard the milk. Place the chicken livers in the remaining 1 cup of milk and let them soak for 4 hours.

To prepare the vinaigrette:
Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add the bacon, and cook until browned, tossing occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and set aside.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the sauté pan and return the pan to the heat. Add the shallots, vinegar, and mustard to the pan and stir, scraping up any browned bits until the dressing is combined. Add the tarragon and season to taste. Keep warm.

To prepare the chicken livers:
Remove the chicken livers from the milk and lightly pat them dry with a paper towel. (The chicken livers should not be dry, but should not contain excess moisture.)

Season the livers with salt and pepper and dredge them in the flour. Place a large saucepan over high heat and add the blended oil. Add the chicken livers and cook until golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the livers over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.

To serve:
In a large bowl toss the currants, frisée, endive, beets, radicchio, and vinaigrette together and season to taste. Divide the mixture evenly among six plates, top with the warm chicken livers, and serve.

Vendredi Vocab: Espelette

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Pimente d’Espelette (AOC; PDO) [PEE-mohn DEHS-puhl-eht] Although not native to the Basque region-it was brought to the area from Mexico in the 16th century-the Espelette pepper has become a specialty of the region. This chili pepper is bright red, with a long tapered body and a flavor that’s slightly sweet and rich with spicy heat similar to a jalepeño. The Basques use this pepper much like black peppercorns are used in the United States-on just about everything. Piment d’Espelette received AOC approval in 2000 and it’s still the only spice in France to achieve that status. To carry the name Piment d’Espelette AOC, the peppers must be grown within the village of Espelette or one of the other nine named villages in the Nive Valley and left to sun dry for at least 15 days, although 2 1/2 to 3 months produces the best results. The peppers are usually sold dried and can be purchased whole or in powdered form, but they’re sometimes available fresh and as a purée.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 574

Pimente is French for chili pepper and this particular strain was introduced to France during the 16th century. After first being used medicinally, it began making it’s way into condiments and for the conservation of meat and ham. It is now a cornerstone of Basque cuisine, where it has gradually replaced black pepper.

AOC espelette peppers are harvested in late summer and, in September, characteristic festoons of pepper are hung on balconies and house walls throughout the area to dry out. An annual pepper festival, attracting some 20,000 tourists, is held in October.

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This pepper attains only a maximum grade of 4,000 on the Scoville scale and therefore considered only mildly hot. (Source: wikipedia)

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At the girl & the fig we love Pimente d’Espelette! It can almost always be found on our menu in some form. This week we are making an espelette aïoli on the Bistro Plat du Jour‘s appetizer of cured rock shrimp
avocado, mache – so simple, yet the flavors are interesting and complex and play off each other perfectly.

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Photo credit: Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!

Vendredi Vocab: Sunchoke

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sunchoke Though also called a Jerusalem artichoke, this vegetable is not truly an artichoke but a variety of sunflower with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that often resembles a ginger root. It also has nothing to do with Jerusalem – that moniker actually comes from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole. The white flesh of this vegetable is nutty, sweet and crunchy. Sunchokes are available year-round but best from about October to March. Select those that are firm and fresh-looking and not soft or wrinkled. Handle carefully, as sunchokes easily bruise. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to a week. After that, they will begin to wither because of moister loss. They may be peeled or, because the skin is very thin and quite nutritious, simply washed well before being used. Sunchokes can be eaten raw in salads or cooked by boiling or steaming and served as a side dish. They also make a delicious soup. Aluminum or iron pans will cause this tuber to turn an unappetizing pale gray. In France, the sunchoke is known as topinambou, and in Italy as girasole articiocco.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 745

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This week, sunchokes are popping up on our menu on the bistro plat du jour in the appetizer – a roasted carrot salad with sunchokes, carrots, winter citrus, and an olive vinaigrette. The dish is so seasonal, fresh tasting, and delicious! Check out the entire Bistro Plat du Jour menu this week, here.

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Photo courtesy of Chef Jeremy Zimmerman

Vendredi means “Friday” in French. Each week we add something new to our culinary vocabulary by delving into a word from our menu. We love food, we love words, and we love to learn something new. We also love Fridays.

Happy Vendredi, everyone!