Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Still snowing . . . still at home . . .

Seriously . . . this is really ridiculous!  Have been snowed in since Friday last week!!!  The bad news:  it is still snowing and can't even see outside the window!  The good news, on the other hand:  my flight to Detroit tomorrow hasn't been cancelled so far!!! Yay!!! :)

I was checking my "News Feed" on Facebook and got across this:
"Food & Wine: We're proud to announce the winner of our first-ever Home Cook Superstar Search, Sarah Simmons, a digital marketing consultant in New York City! To learn more about Sarah and for more great entrants we loved:"

So, I clicked on the link and started reading about the winner . . . then went to the second entrant and read the following: "Contestant Melissa Ainslie of Miami, blogs about her cooking adventures at"  And, of course, had to check her blog!

I looooove figs!  And, guess what?  Melissa's current posting is precisely about figs . . . here it is:

Fig & Balsamic Jam

Published by mel on February 8, 2010 in breakfast, recipe and sides & bites

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit persnickety about my kitchen. I like everything to be immaculately clean and orderly – counter tops shining and everything put away. No toaster or blender or mixer out on the counter. I like as much space as possible to make a real mess on when I’m cooking. So, it’s an absolute wonder that I’ve kept my new Ad Hoc at Home cookbook on the counter for the past month. It’s just so beautiful and inspiring and I like to peruse it while I’m wondering what to make for dinner.

One of the recipes that kept catching my eye was a Fig & Balsamic Jam that sounded like the perfect accompaniment to a large hunk of Manchego taking up room in the cheese drawer (Yes, I keep an entire drawer of cheese… Don’t judge me.). Of course, it’s winter and fresh figs are still a few months away. But I wanted some fig jam now! So, I tweaked the recipe to see if it would work with dried figs. And happy surprise – it did!

This jam is super quick and endlessly delicious. Paired with cheese, it’s just dreamy. Brings a little bit of summer to your plate. I highly recommend you make it as soon as possible.

In case you’re wondering, that’s a Fig jam, Manchego and chorizo sandwich in the background. My favorite kind of food…

Fig & Balsamic Jam
Adapted from Ad Hoc at Home.

1 lb. dried mission figs (or other dried figs), roughly chopped
1 cup demerara sugar (or cane sugar)
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Place the figs, sugar, balsamic and water in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. Once it comes to a bubbling simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the figs have absorbed most of the cooking liquid.

Remove from heat and carefully use a blender or food processor to puree the jam, breaking up any large pieces of dried figs.

Stir in the lemon juice and let cool completely to room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

Makes about 2 cups jam.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Blog surfing . . .

After being trapped in my apartment for three days now, I'm starting to feel just a tad bored.  There's nothing particularly interesting to watch on tv, I'm bored of playing Bejeweled Blitz and Mah Jongg Toy Chest on Facebook, there's not much happening on Facebook itself, and can't spend all day long eating or talking with Bobby on the phone! lol . . . I'm not quite sure how I ended up on this blog—Baking Obsession—but, I'll try to retrace my steps:  Let's see . . . I went to my blog, then clicked on the link "Next Blog" (on the top part of the site) and it took me to "Crabby Days".  Then I clicked on a couple of the links under "Places I am Currently Lurking ...":  "Anne's Food" from Sweden, and "Cooking the Books" from Scotland, both with interesting recipes.  On "Cooking the Books" clicked on the author's "View My Complete Profile" link. Once there, went over the list of her "Blogs I Follow" and decided to click on the last link of the list, "The Goddess's Kitchen".  Again, interesting recipes, and even got sidetracked for a minute with a cute photo of a cat named Coco!  On the right side of the blog found several other links, but the one that caught my eyes was "Member of Cook It, Blog It", so I went in there.  OMG!  I found a huge list of—you guessed it!—more food blogs!  OK . . . I was going through the whole list of sites and, somehow, resisted the temptation of clicking on any of them.  Finally, decided to click on the last link, "From My Motorhome to Yours", but quickly left the site after listening to the music being played: "Shake Rattle and Roll" from Bill Haley and his Comets!  Not precisely my favorite type of music!  So, decided to go to the link immediately before that one, "Ria's Collection".  The author is a young girl from India—and I'm not particularly keen on Indian food—but, nevertheless, I kept looking through her postings . . . I thought there might be something interesting if she had 130 followers!  Well, my sight stopped on a Tiramisu Cake recipe which claimed to be made with homemade Mascarpone cheese!  Skipped the Tiramisu recipe and went straight to the cheese recipe, just to find out that it had been copied form another site:  "Recipe adapted verbatim from Vera's blog Baking Obsession" . . . so, obviously, my next stop was "Baking Obsession", and that's how I ended up with this recipe:

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

Much easier to make than it might seem, homemade mascarpone is a tastier and less expensive alternative to a store-bought cheese.

Makes about 12 oz
500 ml whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.

The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.