By Diane Peterson
Photos by Alvin Jornada
Chef de Cuisine – Matt Spector
When it rains figs in Wine Country, it pours. September is the time to get busy grilling them for salads and appetizers, making luscious desserts and jam.
What makes this dish so delicious is the vinaigrette. The combination of olives, capers, tomatoes, fennel, and fresh herbs makes a refreshing sauce for this delicate fish. Castelvetrano olives have been in the spotlight for past few years. They are harvested early, and because of that these olives are bright green in color and have a very wonderful fresh flavor similar to Olio Nuovo (fresh olive oil). If you are unable to find these olives, another fresh green olive can be substituted.
Provençal Petrale Sole
- ½ fennel bulb, shaved thinly
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons lemon zest
- 1 orange, segmented
- 10 Castelvetrano olives, pitted and halved
- 10 oil-cured black olives, pitted and halved
- 1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- blended oil, for cooking
- 6 pieces Petrale sole (5 ounces each)
In a bowl toss the fennel, lemon juice, zest, orange segments, olives, red pepper, thyme, and olive oil together. Season to taste and set aside. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 1 hour to let the flavors meld.
Season the flour well with salt and pepper and spread it over a flat dish. Lightly dust the sole with the flour. Place a large sauté pan over high heat. In several batches, heat the blended oil in a sauté pan and sear the sole until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Turn the fish over and repeat.
To Serve: Place one piece of sole in the center of each plate and top with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette.
(from the girl & the fig cookbook)
Meyer Lemon Drop
Makes 2 cocktails
4 ounces vodka
Juice of 2 lemons
1.5 ounces simple syrup (see below)
Lemon twists, for garnish
- Chill the martini glasses
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, lemon juice, and simple syrup
- Shake well and strain into the martini glasses
- Garnish each cocktail with a lemon twist
Simple syrup is the base for many cocktails and takes only a few minutes to make at home. Just combine equal parts sugar and water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved (about 3 minutes).
Let cool before using. You can store simple syrup in a glass jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
- ½ cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 pinch salt
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon ground
- ½ teaspoon allspice ground
- ¼ teaspoon clove ground
- ¼ teaspoon dried ginger ground
- 1 stick butter (cold & cut into ½“ cubes)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1¼ cups flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place ½ cup of the toasted almonds and granulated sugar in food processor and grind until almonds have broken up.
Add the brown sugar, salt, baking powder, spices and pulse to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse until broken up.
Add the egg yolk and pulse until incorporated.
Add the flour in batches until mixture is consistent. Place the mixture on a tray and place in freezer until frozen.
Place mixture back into processor and pulse until mixture crumbs.
- 8 cups blackberries
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup sugar (depends on berries they may need more or less)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 3 tablespoon butter (cut into 6 pieces)
- ¼ cup toasted almond slivers, toasted
In a separate bowl, combine berries, vanilla & almond extract, sugar and cornstarch and toss until the blackberries are coated equally.
Place the blackberries equally into six-6 ounce ramekins. Berries should slightly overflow dish.
Sprinkle almonds on the blackberries and place one piece of butter in the middle of each dish.
Generously sprinkle topping over the blackberries. Place the dishes on a baking sheet as some of the liquid will boil over the sides of the dish.
Cook until topping has browned and the blackberries are bubbling (25-30 minutes). Remove and allow to chill slightly, but serve warm!
We serve our cobbler with a scoop of hazelnut ice cream, and caramel drizzled over the top.
The lavender used in this recipe is the key to success. Make sure to use culinary lavender and try to get a sense of the intensity. The stronger the scent, the shorter the steep time should be. There is a very delicate line between making a blissful Lavender Crème Brûlée and what tastes like a decadent bath lotion.
Lavender Crème Brûlée
- 2¼ cups heavy cream
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 3 to 4 sprigs fresh lavender or 1½ tablespoons dried culinary lavender, plus additional for garnish
- 8 large egg yolks
- ½ cup sugar plus about 4 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the cream and milk in a saucepan and add the lavender. Bring to a boil and turn off the heat. Let the lavender steep for about 15 minutes or until the milk has a lavender flavor. (For a stronger flavor, allow the lavender to steep longer.) Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks, ½ cup sugar, and honey until smooth. Whisk it into the lavender-cream mixture. Strain though a fine-mesh sieve and skim off any foam. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins or brûlée dishes. Set the ramekins in a baking pan and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the baking pan with foil and bake for 40 minutes or until set. (The custards are done when they stop jiggling.) Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath for 5 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, for at least three hours or overnight.
Before serving, sprinkle the tops of the ramekins with a few teaspoons of sugar and caramelize with a small torch or under a broiler set on high. Garnish each crème brûlée with a lavender blossom.
(Originally published in PLATS DU JOUR, the girl & the fig’s Journey Through the Seasons in Wine Country by Sondra Bernstein)