Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cooking Group September 30, 2012

We met at Carol's house for a themed dinner of figs!  It is the height of the season and we wanted to take full advantage of the elegant little fruits.  Guest tonight were Vicky and Jennifer and missing were Janet, Tonya and Evelyn.

Cocktail and Wine:  Mary, Sangria
Bread:  Mary, Pumpkin Cheese and Chive Muffins
Appetizer:  Angie, Figs and Toasted Almonds Brie and Elegant Fig Appetizers with Goat Cheese
Salad:  Jennifer, Green Salad with Fig Vinaigrette
Side Dish:  Carol and Jennifer,  Autumn Vegetable Mash
Main Dish:  Carol, Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Fresh Figs and Marsala Pan Sauce
Dessert:  Carol and Jennifer, Fig and Peach Crumble

Carol set a beautiful fall table with fresh flowers and tan napkins. 

We started the evening off with a stout cocktail of sangria.  The color was beautiful and perfectly fit in with the fall decorations. 

 I found two great fig appetizers and both featured cheese and honey.  Figs and Toasted Almonds Brie was delicious and served with water crackers.  I do not make brie often and next time I will remove all rind from the top.   Though edible, the rind is not easily spreadable and most people do not want to eat it anyway.  I used slivered almonds and chopped the figs before putting on the cheese.

Elegant Fig Appetizers with Goat Cheese and Almonds was super simple to put together.  Like the brie appetizer, I assembled this the night before and baked it right before serving.  After baking, drizzle with the honey and balsamic vinegar.  I used herbed goat cheese as called for and it complimented the sweet figs, honey and vinegar nicely. 

The salad was simple with greens, cucumbers and tomatoes.  The vinaigrette featured fig vinegar which gave a sweetness and a deep brown color.  I loved the flavor and had no idea there was such a thing as fig vinegar!


1 part Black Fig Vinegar
3 parts Olive Oil
Diced Shallot
Diced Garlic
Sugar and Salt to taste

Mary made a delicious Pumpkin, Cheese and Chive Muffins with sweet butter.  The muffins were moist, lightly sweet and flavorful.  I loved them with the fall menu of Autumn Vegetable Mash and Pork Medallions with Figs.  

The vegetable mash has the consistency of mashed potatoes and the parsnips and especially the celery root give a tangy flavor.  There is no butter and you really did not miss it as all the vegetables are so flavorful.  

Autumn Vegetable Mash Recipe

Prep Time: 20 min | Cook Time: 20 min | Servings: 12 |

8 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large celery roots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 cups chicken broth
2-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
2/3 cup 2% milk
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper


In a Dutch oven, combine the potatoes, parsnips, celery roots, broth and 2 teaspoons salt. Add water to cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, covered, for 15-20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to a large bowl; reserve cooking liquid. Mash vegetables, gradually adding the milk, garlic powder, pepper, remaining salt and enough reserved cooking liquid to reach desired consistency. Yield: 12 servings (3/4 cup each).

 I loved the pork medallions.  The sauce was thick like a gravy and the figs and Marsala gave a hint of sweetness.  The thinly sliced pork was very tender. 

Pork Tenderloin Cutlets with Marsala and Fresh Figs
Makes 4 Servings

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 pounds, well trimmed
kosher salt
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs unsalted butter
1/3 cup minced shallots
1 1/4 cup sweet Marsala Wine, divided
2 tsp thyme, finely chopped
12 firm ripe figs, preferably green skinned, cut into wedges
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs fresh lemon juice

Trim the fat from the pork tenderloin.  Loosen the shiny white membrane.  Cut the tenderloin into 1/2 inch thick slices.  Lightly pound the slices to make the cutlets about 1/4th inch  thick.  Sprinkle cutlets with salt and pepper.  Dredge the cutlets in flour.

 Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add the cutlets and cook 1 to 2 minutes per side until it looses its pink color.  Pour 1 cup of the Marsala over the pork and gently boil the Marsala, turning the pork, until the wine is cooked down and the pork is golden and cooked through,  about 5 minutes.  Transfer the meat to a platter.  Boil the Marsala and juices until thick, about 1 minute.  Pour over the pork.  Sprinkle with half of the thyme leaves.

Add the remaining 1/4 cup of Marsala and the figs.  Sprinkle the figs with sugar and cook, over medium high heat, turning the figs until they turn golden and are cooked into a chunky jam, about 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with the lemon juice.  Spoon over the pork and sprinkle with the remaining thyme.  Serve at once.

We finished our meal with Fresh Fig and Peach Crumble with ice cream that was fancied up by Carol and Jennifer.  I think there was figs and pistachios mixed with vanilla ice cream.

Fresh Fig and Peach Crumble
Makes 6 to 8 Servings

8 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1/3 cup plus 2 tbs sugar
1 cup plus 2 tbs all purpose flour
pinch of salt

1 lb peaches, peeled, halved, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 lb firm, ripe figs, preferably Brown Turkey, stems removed, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Confectioners' sugar

Combine the butter and 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl of electric mixer and beat until well combined, about 3 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the flour and salt and beat on low just until flour is incorporated but the mixture is still dry and crumbly.  Remove bowl from mixer and scrape flour from the bottom and edges of the bowl and press into the pastry.  The pastry should still be crumbly.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 1 1/2 to 2-quart shallow baking dish.

Combine the peaches and figs in a large bowl;  add the lime juice and toss to blend.  In a small bowl combine the remaining 2 tbs flour and sugar and the cinnamon; stir to blend.  Sprinkle over the fruit.  Fold gently just to blend without crushing the fruit.

Spoon fruit into baking dish; spread in even layer.  Sprinkle the cold pastry crumbs over the fruit.  

Bake until the top is golden brown and the fruit is bubbly, 35 to 30 minutes.  Cool slightly and sprinkle with confectioner's sugar and serve with ice cream.

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