winter delights, and cooking through Plats du Jour

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It’s hard to imagine that there is a better Sunday than heading out, bundled up, to the farmers’ market, browsing (and tasting) through everything that’s delicious about winter in Sonoma, and then lugging home the haul to prepare a recipe from Plats du Jour that I’ve been drooling over for weeks.

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The colors at the market seem so much more bright and lovely in winter–maybe it’s the backdrop of greys, maybe all the deep reds and purples.  (Yes, we have year round farmers’ markets in this county!  Spoiled.)

The recipe: Wild Boar Ragout.

It’s simple, hearty, savory, and will have your house smelling of thyme and bay and slowly roasting flavors all afternoon.  Pure comfort food.

So this~

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Became this~

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Then this~

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Photo Credit: Steven Krause

(Ok, so mine was not quite this gorgeous, but it was that delicious.  As proof-I didn’t even have the chance for a photo of the end result because everyone dove in so quickly!)

Sunday, I miss you already.

Vendredi Vocab: Broccoli Rabe

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broccoli rabe [RAHB] A vegetable related to both the cabbage and the turnip family, the leafy green broccoli raab has 6- to 9-inch stalks and scattered clusters of tiny broccoli like buds. It’s also called American gai lan, brocoletti di rape, Italian broccoli, rage, rape and rapine. The greens have a pungent, bitter flavor that is not particularly popular in America where, more often than not, they’re used as animal fodder. Italians are particularly fond of broccoli raab, however, and cook it in a variety of ways including frying, steaming and braising. It can also be used in soups or salads. Broccoli rabe should be wrapped in a plastic bag and refrigerated for no more than 5 days.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 104

I found it particularly interesting that, while the small buds on broccoli rabe, also commonly called “rapini,” resemble broccoli, the vegetable is actually more closely related to the turnip. With that name, who would have thought?! The vegetable is most popular in Southern Italian and Roman cuisine, as well as Galician and Portuguese.

The vegetable has many spiked leaves that surround clusters of green buds that resemble small heads of broccoli. Small, edible yellow flowers may be blooming among the buds. The flavor of rapini has been described as nutty, bitter, and pungent. Rapini is a source of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, and iron.

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We are currently seeing broccoli rabe on our menu as a part of this week’s Bistro Plat du Jour, three-course menu. I love how the slight bitterness of the broccoli rabe compliments the nuttiness of the roasted winter squash and the richness of the grilled pork chop. It’s given the perfect amount of heat with chili flakes and cool, fresh mint to balance it all out.

IMG_4007-2This week’s Bistro Menu main course: Grilled Pork Chop, with roasted winter squash, chili, mint & broccoli rabe.

 

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!

Culinary Vocab Word of the Week: Terrine

photo 2This week’s word is…

terrine  A cooking container made of glazed earthenware, ceramic or enameled cast iron with vertical sides and a lid. Terrines come in various sizes and shapes including round and rectangular. Pâté cooked in them is called pâté en terrine.

The New Food Lover’s Companion, page 767

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Technically “terrine” refers to the actual dish, but it commonly refers to the pâté itself. And while the terms terrine and pâté are used somewhat interchangeably, the most notable difference is that terrines typically use courser meat, while pâtés have a smooth consistency.

In researching terrine, I came across this awesome original video where Julia Child demonstrates how to make your own terrine and pâté.

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Julia Child The French Chef – Terrines and Pâtés (click to watch)

This week at the girl & the fig we made our own pork terrine. These shots are from our kitchen, straight from the camera of Chef Jeremy Zimmerman.

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And if you thought it couldn’t get any better, Chef Zimmerman finishes by lightly breading the terrine using panko bread crumbs, and fries it.

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The final dish: crispy pork terrine with white bean purée and pickled vegetables. Is your mouth watering yet?! You will find this as the appetizer in our bistro three-course menu. And I can tell you first hand that this week’s Plat du Jour menu is amazingly delicious (especially the crispy pork terrine)!

Each week we add a new word to our culinary vocabulary. Interested in reading about other words? Last week’s word was “muffaletta,” click here, the week before it was “shrub,” click here.

Bon appétit and have a wonderful weekend!

Cheese Plates Fit for Thanksgiving

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Enjoying my Thanksgiving tablescape, a cup of joe, and reading about cheese in Sondra Bernstein’s book, Plats du Jour.

I have been inspired this Thanksgiving to do an amazing cheese spread. It makes a great addition to the appetizer table for so many reasons. To name a few; it doesn’t take the precious real estate of the oven or stovetop, it can sit at room temperature for hours, you can include seasonal ingredients that pair with the cheese, and it’s extremely versatile.

In preparation, I have had so much fun reading about cheese and thinking about how to create a tasty and beautiful cheese platter. At the girl & the fig, I love seeing the amazing cheese plates we come up with. From the house-made charcuterie to compote and mustarda, to our fig cake, each bite can be completely different depending on how you pair the ingredients on the plate. At the girl & the fig we source our cheeses from many local purveyors, including Bleating Heart in Marin, Bellwether Farms and Laura Chenel, both in Sonoma, and Bohemian Creamery in Sebastopol, and we balance it out with about a third of the cheeses on our list from France. We also include a selection of cow, goat, and sheep milks cheeses.

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The current cheese selection at the girl & the fig

 

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Sampling from Bellwether Farms who visited our last staff meeting

 

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Single cheese selection with dessert wine at the girl & the fig bar

If you are looking for a way to spice up your cheese plate, here are some additions I’ve been drooling over:

– figs (of course!)

– grapes

– quince paste

– honeycomb

– nuts

– pâtés

And now for some fun cheese plate inspiration…

Cheese-and-honey-HonestlyYUM  Cheese-platter-HonestlyYUM

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Sip-and-Sparkle-Party-Vertical Source

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Happy Thanksgiving week! May your holiday be filled with an abundance of love and good food.

 

Happy First Day of Fall!

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Outside the back patio on 1st Street West.

It is beginning to feel a lot like fall at the girl & the fig. Crush is in full-swing in Sonoma Valley and the menu is showing the first signs of autumn ingredients, like kale and pomegranates. Fig season is winding down. We even had our first rainy day last week, although the clouds parted and the sun was shining again by the next day. The slightly crisper air has been a welcomed change after the hot and dry summer we have had.

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Fall on West Spain Street

We love fall at the girl & the fig and we can’t wait to start trading in our airy tees for some chunky sweaters…and our Viognier for a big glass of Syrah. We even kicked off the last official weekend of summer with a Grenache day week celebration (more on International Grenache Day here). Glasses of red wine being poured all around felt perfectly timely with the cooling weather and ensuing autumn season.

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Brian Casey and Chef Jeremy Zimmerman tell the servers about the new weekly Plat du Jour fixed menu and wine pairings.

Fall ingredients are starting to show up on our menu, while we are still enjoying the final bounty of summer.

IMG_2205Plat du Jour menu

We can’t wait to see what other new menu items are in-store in the coming weeks. Wishing you a happy first day of autumn from our fig family to yours!