Broiled Polenta, Lemon Ricotta and Pecorino Brussel Sprout Squares

Polenta, Lemon Ricotta and Brussel Sprout Squares | Fig + Honey

I have to admit that polenta and I have had a rocky past. Whenever I make a batch, it always seems to lack some flavor or inadvertently becomes a frying pan failure. No one likes oil soaked polenta crumbs now do they. So out of frustration or perhaps the desire to perfect this seemingly delicious food, I spent some time experimenting a bit. I learned that a touch of fat is your friend when getting a silky texture out of your polenta and also that polenta loves cheese. In order to avoid the unhealthy and disastrous frying pan route, I decided to try and broil it to crisp things up. I found that cooking it like this is the perfect way to get a deliciously crisp outside and a creamy smooth inside. With a few of the kinks worked out, this is quickly becoming a new favorite of mine.

It turns out the whole process is quite easy and that’s why you should definitely make these polenta squares. The lemony ricotta is deliciously creamy and the pecorino brussel sprout slaw is perfect on top. They make the perfect appetizer or mid afternoon snack. Enjoy xx

Polenta, Lemon Ricotta and Brussel Sprout Squares | Fig + Honey

Broiled Polenta, Lemon Ricotta and Pecorino Brussel Sprout Squares

Polenta

  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • salt and pepper to taste
Brussel Sprouts
  • 1/2 cup shredded brussel sprouts
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Prepare the polenta according to package directions. Cook until thick and coming away from the sides, add in the butter and pecorino cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Pour out into a 10 x 7inch sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Smooth out to the edges with a spatula and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to set.
Meanwhile prepare the toppings. In a small bowl mix together the ricotta cheese, lemon zest and season to taste.
In another bowl, combine the brussel sprouts, olive oil, lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat the oven to broil. Slice the polenta into 2 inch squares and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Broil for 4-5 minutes on each side until crispy to the touch.
Once the polenta has cooled, top with a teaspoon of the ricotta cheese mixture and a pinch of the brussel sprouts. Top with a bit of freshly ground black pepper.
Makes 15 squares. 

Polenta, Lemon Ricotta and Brussel Sprout Squares | Fig + Honey

 

The French Alps

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Most winters all I can think about is escaping to a sunny spot in the world and feeling the warm sun on my back. Images of a beach side villa opening up onto a white sands and clear waters are what dreams are made of. So venturing further into a snowy winterland is most often not on my radar. However, after visiting the Alps during the winter my mind has most definitely changed.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Though I was in love with the Alps during the summer, I must say that winter is even more breathtaking (if that’s even possible!) We made our way to Chamonix, a beautiful little city in the French Alps and spent our time eating fondue and baguettes, enjoying the view of the mountains from a warm cafe. Even if you’re not a huge winter sports fan (I can’t remember the last time I strapped on some ski’s), it’s just as lovely soaking in the cozy atmosphere of the little alpine villages.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Though Chamonix had no snow, we took the Aiguille du Midi cable car all the way to the top of the mountain where we were able to see the Alps in all their snowy glory. It is an amazing feeling being up so high in the world and amongst these majestic beasts. You quite literally feel as though you’re on top of the world which is a feeling I highly recommend! The sun is incredibly intense all the way up in the sky and could possibly be sunnier than sitting on a beach! However, far colder! I must say being so high and being able to look out onto such an extreme landscape really humbles you and reminds you that there is much more to the world that exists in your view.

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Anyway, enough with the words- I’ll let the images speak for themselves!

French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey
French Alps | Fig + Honey

Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream

Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream | Fig + Honey

Ladies, remember those tea parties where you used to spend hours and hours playing with miniature cups and saucers? My favorite memories of tea parties are with my sister and cousins playing under the kitchen table draped with an extra long tablecloth. Of course this was back when we were all able to fit under the table most comfortably. We would get huge bowls of water and spend forever prepping the perfect tea and treats. Tea most usually was oh so delicious tap water and treats were just about anything that looked remotely edible that we could scrounge up in the kitchen.  Not afternoon tea to the queen’s standard I must admit, but it kept us occupied for hours of fun. I know our parents weren’t complaining!

Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream | Fig + Honey
Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream | Fig + Honey

Tea parties these days are few and far between, however I’m always excited to enjoy treats that let you have a little bit of the glamor and decadence without having to visit Claridge’s. Scones must be the most famous English afternoon tea accompaniment right next to cucumber sandwiches of course. And they happen to be one of my favorites. With a bit of jam and a dollop of cream, there’s very little that compares. The best part is that they’re incredibly easy and fast to make which is perfect when you’re craving them last minute. Which is usually when I crave things – I don’t know about you! Though these are a tiny bit different to the scones of my childhood, they’re still just as perfect with a cup of tea. Make a batch and treat yourself to a little afternoon tea of your own!

Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream | Fig + Honey

Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream

Scones

  • 1/3 cup currants
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 oz butter, cubed
  • 3/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar plus 1 tbsp
  • 5 oz milk plus 1 tbsp

Whipped Cream

  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream or double cream
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C.

Soak the currants in enough hot water to cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the all purpose flour and baking powder. Add the butter and with your fingertips, rub together with the flour until evenly distributed. Add the ginger powder and 2 tbsp granulated sugar and mix to combine. Drain the currants and add to the bowl. Pour in the 5 oz of milk and using a spoon, mix until everything comes together into a ball. Use your hands if you need and it is ok if it is a bit sticky.

Tip out the dough on to a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the dough with bit of flour and roll out to about 3/4 of an inch. Using as 2 inch round cutter, cut out the scones and place onto a parchment covered baking sheet.

Using the 1 tbsp of milk, lightly brush the tops of the scones and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tbsp of sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the lemon whipped cream. In a large bowl, add in the heavy whipping cream, lemon zest, lemon juice and powdered sugar. Whip with a whisk until the cream forms stiff peaks. Make sure not to over whip or you will end up with butter!

Cool the scones on a wire rack and serve with jam and the cream. Makes 16-18 2-inch scones.

Ginger Currant Scones with Lemon Whipped Cream | Fig + Honey

Herbed Savory Crepes

Herbed Savory Crepes | Fig + Honey

Whenever I buy herbs, I always end up buying them in bulk. Never from the normal supermarket that sells you portions only fit for garnishing at jaw dropping prices. But most often from the Asian food shops that sell you handfuls for half the price you find elsewhere. I’ve grown to the mentality that these are the quantities that you need if you’re looking for lots of flavor as opposed to a few sprinkles of green. Not to mention if you’re looking to get some nutritional value out of that mint or cilantro.

Herbed Savory Crepes | Fig + Honey

However, since I do buy quite a few at a time, I’m always looking for ways to use them up. No one likes a shriveled up sprig of parsley from the back of the vegetable drawer. And the herbs that go into the freezer last minute after cleaning the fridge in advance of a trip seem to get lost in the frozen abyss most usually forever.

So in my efforts to make the most of the leftovers, I’ve been making savory crepes. Herbed savory crepes. They’re made with chickpea flour which tastes just a bit nutty and gives the crepes a beautiful texture. The herbs freshen things up and pack a lot of flavor. Feel free to throw in any other herbs you have laying about and even a touch of spinach to up the greens. They’re delicious with a bit of yogurt, a bit of chutney or even sriracha would be tasty!

Herbed Savory Crepes | Fig + Honey

Herbed Savory Crepes

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 cup heaped cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp garlic chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt, more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 thai red chili, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds

In a large bowl add all of the ingredients and mix until everything is well combined. The batter should be thick but able to run off a spoon quite easily (similar to pancake batter). If necessary, add a touch of water.

Heat a nonstick skillet on medium heat. Using a paper towel with a bit of oil, lightly grease the skillet. Once heated, place about 2 tbsp of batter in the middle and using the back of a spoon spread the batter evenly out into a 6 inch circle. I find it helps to start in the middle and then continue to move in circles pushing the batter further and further out. Cook for 30 seconds on the first side, flip and cook for a further 1 minute. Keep under a tea towel to keep warm.  Makes 8 crepes.

Herbed Savory Crepes | Fig + Honey

Cilantro Pomelo Noodle Salad

Cilantro Pomelo Noodle Salad | Fig + Honey

I must admit that the Pomelo is new to me. I’ve only recently become familiar with this large and extremely delicious citrus fruit even though I’ve walked past it a million times in the supermarket. It’s always exciting to me to try out just about anything new when it comes to food so I decided to lug one home this week in my shopping bag. Annnddddd, I must say that I’ve come to really like it’s mild flavor and appreciate the touch of bitterness that comes along with it. It’s a much milder flavor than its grapefruit cousin making it much more pleasing to those who are adverse to bitter flavors (ie my husband) and easier to incorporate into recipes like this one.

Cilantro Pomelo Noodle Salad | Fig + Honey

I am partial to Asian flavors of all kinds and I’m always trying to find new ways to mix and match them. Citrus is a perfect friend for chilis and fragrant herbs like cilantro and basil as they seem to balance each other out quite well. I’m excited about this incredibly fresh and flavorful salad at the moment and especially appreciate how light it is despite being packed with flavor. Just what I need since I’m still trying to freshen and lighten up after the holidays! If you want to make it a main, grilled shrimp would be a welcome addition or even a light white fish would be nice. I also like it when it’s a tad bit warm as the flavors come through a little differently. Play around with and see how you feel!

Cilantro Pomelo Noodle Salad | Fig + Honey

Citrus Pomelo Noodle Salad

Salad

  • 6 oz thick rice noodles, soaked according to package directions
  • 1 cup cilantro, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup thai sweet basil, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp garlic chives, finely chopped
  • 1 cup snow peas, julienned
  • 3 cups pomelo, peeled, segmented and broken into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • Thinly sliced thai red chilis to garnish (optional)

Dressing

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 thai red chili, finely diced (more or less depending on preference)
  • 1 tbsp ginger, finely minced
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

Prepare the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to evenly distribute.

In a large bowl, toss the warm rice noodles with about half of the dressing. Either place on a platter or in individual serving serving dishes. Sprinkle with the cilantro, basil and garlic chives and then top with the julienned snow peas. Top with the pomelo and garnish with the chopped peanuts and red chilis if using. Drizzle with additional dressing if desired and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Cilantro Pomelo Noodle Salad | Fig + Honey

Pear Saffron Preserves

Pear Saffron Preserves | Fig + Honey

I’ve been happily enjoying the holidays with the family back in the states for the past few weeks and it’s been a bit hard getting back into the swing of things here in Germany. Sometimes it’s hard to shut off holiday mode and jet lag gets a teensy bit harder every time. After a couple days of being a complete bum and getting the house back in order, I decided it was time to start cooking again.

Pear Saffron Preserves | Fig + Honey

These preserves have been on my mind since November and I figured today was as good of a day as any to give them a go. At the moment, the only fruits I can seem to find at the markets are citrus, apples and pears so it seemed fitting to choose one of them. I know jams and preserves are usually reserved for the summer months when plenty of fruits are in abundance, but no one said that you can’t make jam in the winter. Actually, a little bit of sunny yellow jam was just what I need to add a bit of color to these dreary months of winter!

Pear Saffron Preserves | Fig + Honey

This recipe is so incredibly easy and will only take you about a half hour. Perhaps 40 minutes to accommodate for the prep. These preserves are perfect on toast, with a little bit of creamy cheese or even a little dollop in your morning oatmeal would be very welcomed. I love the brightness the saffron brings and the flavor it imparts is completely comforting. Just what you need!

I almost forgot – Happy New Year! I hope this year brings you lots of love and joy!

Pear Saffron Preserves | Fig + Honey

Pear Saffron Preserves

  • 2 lbs pears, peeled, cored & diced
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/8 tsp saffron

In a large saucepan, combine the pears, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and grated ginger. Cook the pears over high heat for 25-30 minutes until the mixture has thickened and most of the juice has evaporated. Add the saffron and stir to distribute evenly.

Carefully spoon into sterilized jam jars. If using immediately, store in the refrigerator. Otherwise, carefully place the jars into a pot of boiling water, taking care that the water covers the jars. Boil for 10 minutes and carefully remove from the heat.  Let cool completely and store in a cool dry place.

Makes about 20 oz.

Pear Saffron Preserves | Fig + Honey