Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Figs with Goat Cheese, Honey, and Thyme

Figs are one of my favorite fruits.  Their flavor and texture seem to be a perfect balance: not too sweet or tart; and not too juicy or hard.  This makes figs versatile in different types of recipes that teeter on both sweet and savory palettes.  I prefer to go somewhere in between.  As you know, I prefer simplicity in recipes.  This recipe is super easy, yet complex, and no cooking required.  Honey and goat cheese (chevre) are natural flavor pairings for figs.  Yet, I wanted to try adding fresh thyme and a light touch of salt to this recipe to really potentate the fig flavor.  Which it does.

  • fresh figs
  • honey of your choice (I used orange blossom)
  • goat cheese (chevre)
  • fresh thyme
  • salt (optional)
Wash, dry, and quarter the figs lengthwise.  On a serving platter, arrange with the cut side up.  Crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle over the figs.  Drizzle honey over.  Then follow with they fresh thyme leaves and a light dash of salt.  Enjoy immediately.  What makes this dish even better is to serve it with a good crusty bread to sop up the extra "sauce" here.  Amazingly decedent.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  The summer produce we're focusing on here are figs.  On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious fig-alicious recipes to try out:

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Szechwan Eggplant

I worked at an incredible Chinese restaurant, The China Gourmet in Cincinnati, for ten years through my high school and college years.  One of my favorite dishes there, hands-down, was the Szechwan/Szechuan eggplant.  The eggplant was deep-fried until tender, then stir-fried in a rich, dark, complex, slightly sweet and spicy Szechuan sauce.  I would eat this dish at least once a week, if not more.  To be honest, it's been eons since I have last had it.  Probably long before I was diagnosed with Celiac... So at least ten years.  I still remember how is smells, looks, taste, and feels (texture).  I decided just to go for it and try to make it.  I got lucky.  It is as close as a match I as remember.  Even better, it's pan-fried and gluten-free, and relatively easy to make.

1 large eggplant
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons coconut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 bundle green onions
1/3 cup of GF soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (Panda MSG-free is GF, optional)
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch segment fresh ginger, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cracked Szechuan peppercorns (optional, can find at Penzeys)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Wash and dry the eggplant, cut into very thick squared strips lengthwise.  Place in colander, sprinkle with salt, toss, and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes (with something underneath to catch any draining water.  This will remove any bitterness, excess water, and allow to cook better and faster.  Rinse the eggplant well with fresh water to remove excess water and shake out well.  In a wok or large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat.  Add the eggplant into the wok the same orientation to cook evenly.  Cook for minimum 5 minutes before turning over.  In the meantime, chop the green onions and put aside to add in.  In a cup or bowl, make the Szechuan sauce with the tamari, sugar, vinegar, chili sauce, oyster sauce (adds richness), garlic, ginger, and pepper - taste and adjust according to your preference.  In another cup, make up the cornstarch:water slurry.

Once the eggplant seems mostly tender, add in the Szechuan sauce made above and allow to cook down for a couple of minutes.  Add in the green onions, reserving a little bit for garnish.  Toss the eggplant carefully not to break it.  Add in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce is just right, i.e., good amount of liquid, yet tightened up.  Allow to cook for an additional couple of minutes.  Remove from the heat, add in the sesame oil and stir well.  Serve immediately with your choice of rice.  Makes about 2-3 servings.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  The summer produce we're focusing on here is eggplant.  On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious eggplant recipes to try out: 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Grilled Peaches with Greek Yogurt, Honey, Lime Zest, and Vanilla

I have a small old-school Weber grill I haven't used in.... months.  Grilled peaches - something I've always wanted to make and I knew now was the time.  The assortment of peaches at the farmer's markets right now are amazing.  Grilling the peaches caramelize the sugars and make them even more juicy.  There are plenty of recipes of grilled peaches with either ricotta or mascarpone cheese.  To be honest, I never know which one to use.  I know I always have Greek yogurt in my fridge.  I'm sure you do, too.  I added a little bit of honey, vanilla, and a little vanilla to compliment the grilled peach.

2 peaches, just ripe
1 cup Greek yogurt, plain
2 tablespoons honey of your choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (preferably paste)
zest of 1 lime (reserve some for garnish)

Preheat grill.  Cut each peach length-wise and remove pit.  Grill on each side until slightly charred, about 10 minutes.  In the meantime, mix the honey, vanilla, and lime zest into the yogurt and mix well.  Taste and adjust accordingly.  Spoon on top of each grilled halved peach.  Serve and enjoy immediately.  Makes 4 servings.

-Erin Swing
The Sensitive Epicure

This is part of Food Network's Summer Fest. Check out The FN Dish.  The summer produce we're focusing on here are peaches.  On twitter, we're tagging #SummerFest. Here are other delicious peachy recipes to try out: