Saturday, September 02, 2006

Enjoying Fresh Figs Together

I savored the experience of cooking with other women last night as three of us collectively chopped the ingredients for our dinner in my kitchen while sipping glasses of wine. A friend of my daughter’s from Boston and her mother were our house guests and they gladly pitched in to make dinner.

Dinner had been inspired by my office-mate, who had left me the book that was the source of the fennel with fresh figs recipe: The Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. The beauty of this book is that it combines healthy eating with gourmet ingredients and simplicity. Our menu for last night included:

Braised fennel with fresh figs
Yukon gold potatoes mashed with arugula
Salmon with mushrooms and lime juice

The total prep time for all three recipes was 45 minutes max. There was just enough chopping to remind you that you were using fresh ingredients, but not enough to make it a chore. Here’s the fennel recipe for those of you who have easy access to fresh figs:

Fragrant Fennel in Fresh Fig Sauce

6 small fennel bulbs,3 lb. total trimmed
½ cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/8 teaspoon salt
6-12 fresh figs, coarsely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used syrup)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

– Cut each fennel bulb in quarters lengthwise.
– Put a small amount of olive oil in skillet and place over medium-high heat. Add the fennel in a single layer and cook, turning, until lightly browned on all sides, 2-3 minutes.
– Add the broth, water, salt, and figs. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the fennel is tender, about 20 minutes.
– Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Increase heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, 5-7 minutes.
– To serve, divide the fennel among individual plates. Top each with an equal amount of the fig sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley.

I hope you can enjoy this recipe with other who have helped you cook dinner. It is a most civilized way to share each other’s company.


Blogger Mother of Invention said...

I'm sorry I have to disappoint you, but I actually don't like salmon or any fish,or fennel..I don't know what argula is either. I'm a really plain eater who doesn't love to cook, although it is great when someone helps clean up! I've never had to cook for kids so maybe I'd be more used to it had I had to do the dinner thing every night. My husband has odd hours so we seldom eat together except on weekends.

I know, I'm really unusual! But you sound like you love to try new things. Happy cooking!
We're having roast beef tonight............
at my MOM'S! HA!

11:21 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

MOI -- How can you live in Canada with all that wonderful water and not like fish? Have you ever tried fennel? It is a mild-tasting root vegetable which is quite nutritious. Arugula is just a variety of lettuce, nothing special. We don't eat this way every night. It was just the temptation of trying things from a new cookbook that had to be returned on Tuesday. And I do love roast beef, especially at someone else's house!

12:14 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I don't mind helping others in the kitchen, but if I am the chief cook - shoo!

The menu sounds delicious, but ... in my house, trying new things is very difficult. My wife's pallette is nowhere near as adventurous as mine and the kids a definitely picky.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Coincidentally, I bought two boxes of fresh figs today at the fruit stand! We'll definitely try this one! :)

11:04 PM  

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