Fresh Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Reduction

Fresh Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Reduction

 

Fresh Figs with Parmigiano-Reggiano and Balsamic Reduction

I know it seems strange that my last two posts have been about wintery soups and now I am here slapping you in the face with a full-on summer dish. But that is the game that Mother Nature plays with us – bringing us out of those cold dark days and into days full of bright greens and colorful menu options. When we just can’t take any more cabbage, and root vegetables, Mother Nature bring us a summer bounty full of fresh baby lettuces, snap peas and later tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, stone fruits and these little beauties.

Just look at the color of that fig – if that isn’t a sexy show stopper on your spring and summer table, I don’t know what is! It is the perfect hue of spring green.

I am also pleased to tell you that this little snack is not just gorgeous, but also super easy to prepare and only requires 3 ingredients – figs, cheese and balsamic vinegar. There is very little prep work and it is absolutely delightful to eat. Win, win, win! Beautiful, fresh and elegant. Perfect for sharing with friends and family. There is just something magical about the pairing of figs and balsamic vinegar. The sweet, syrupy richness of the vinegar cutting through the sweetness of the fig is unparalleled.

asset_BestBloggersContest

I have entered this recipe in this month’s Better Recipes Best Blogger Recipes Ever contest featuring Potluck and Party Food. If you bring this to a potluck or party I can guarantee that it will be the hit recipe!

If you have a great potluck and party recipe, please enter your recipe too. The more the merrier! The winning blogger each month will win a full page feature in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine! That means if yours is one of them, thousands of new readers will discover your voice. You will also win a $1,000 cash prize and be guest editor for a day!

Please check out my recipe and if you like it, I would definitely appreciate your vote in the contest. You can vote every day, so if you really like the recipe, think about voting more than once. Thank you and enjoy!

Paleo Chocolate Cream Tart with Fresh Figs

 

Doesn’t that sound just dreamy? It is hard to believe that something so sexy as a chocolate tart with fresh figs can be grain, dairy and refined sugar free. You also wouldn’t guess that it is extremely easy to make, not very time consuming and requires no baking! This is such a no-brainer it could be a weeknight dessert, but you might want to leave it for the weekend so it feels more like an indulgence.

I based this tart on a recipe from a new cookbook called Paleo Indulgences. Like I said the Paleo Gods have been shining down on me and put me in the good graces of the folks over at Victory Belt Publishing who send me the latest and greatest in Paleo cookbooks for review. I have really been so fortunate to receive these books free of charge. The books may be free, but the opinions I have are all my own. The good thing is that I have not been disappointed yet. These books have all helped me to eat Paleo for the past three months and given me such a variety of wonderful recipes to use in my kitchen, I don’t feel like I am missing a thing!

For the first month and a half of going Paleo I hadn’t eaten any sugar outside of fresh delicious summer fruits. But my mom came to visit in mid-September and I wanted to make some treats while she was here. So we looked through Paleo Indulgences and decided on the chocolate tart, mainly because Roberto is such a fan of chocolate. After the sweetness of my palette had changed it was nice to have a dessert that serves 8, yet only has 2 TBSP of sweetener, and maple syrup at that! But I am sure it will satisfy any sweet tooth, especially if you are a chocolate lover.

Paleo Chocolate Cream Tart with Fresh Figs (adapted from Paleo Indulgences)

INGREDIENTS:

Tart Shell:
1 ½ cups almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 TBS pure maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt

Filling:
½ cup coconut oil, melted
1 TBS unsweetened cocoa powder
1 TBS pure maple syrup
1 can of coconut milk
1 TBS of Frangelico

Garnish:
Pint of fresh figs, sliced
Cinnamon for dusting

METHOD: Chill the can of coconut milk overnight or at least a few hours, this separates the fat from the water.

Place all tart shell ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until well incorporated and starting to stick together. Place mixture into a tart pan (or you can use 4 mini tart pans). Press firmly along the bottom of the pan(s) and part of the way up the sides of the pan(s). Place on a baking sheet and chill for about an hour, or until firm.

Meanwhile, place the filling ingredients, except the coconut milk fat into the food processor and pulse until well mixed and smooth. In a separate bowl, whip the coconut milk fat and Frangelico together – scoop out the fat on the top of the can, leaving the watery part in the can and whip the fat and Frangelico just like you would whipped cream. Then fold this mixture into the chocolate mixture.

Pour filling into the tart shell(s) and refrigerate for another hour. Serve with sliced figs on top.

Will store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for 3 months.

Entered into the Fig Love Blog Hop.

Versatile Smoothie Recipe

This recipe is kitty approved!

I have been posting a lot recently on my Facebook Page about my post workout Pumpkin Smoothies and those posts have created quite a buzz! I am a huge pumpkin freak and I enjoy it all year long – seems like a lot of you are too! I don’t know what I enjoy better, my workouts or these smoothies afterwards- the best of both worlds! This smoothie is great way to get in some extra grain-free carbohydrates, fat and protein post workout.

That said, many times when I post a specific recipe, I get a lot of great comments like: “can I substitute Y ingredient for X ingredient?” or “I wish I could make that, but I don’t consume X ingredient” or “I wish I could make this but I don’t know where to get X ingredient” or simply “I don’t like X ingredient”. You get the gist…so although I will post my awesome pumpkin smoothie with options and add ins, I will also give you ideas for entirely different smoothie recipes. This is mix and match folks! :)

This is your smoothie recipe – easy to tailor to your tastes and needs. I give some suggestions, but feel free to improvise. Like chocolate? Add a TBS or two of fair trade cocoa powder (no sugar added). Don’t do sugar? Try stevia, or fruit sweetened smoothies – dried dates are great for this. Want to make it a greenie? Add a handful of spinach or kale. The possibilities are endless!

Here are some of my recent combinations:

raw milk, pumpkin, 1/2 banana, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and a little stevia
raw milk, egg, pumpkin puree, almond butter, cinnamon and molasses
coconut milk, avocado, cocoa powder, cinnamon, maple
kefir, soaked almonds, dried dates/figs, frozen berries, vanilla extract

This smoothie recipe is so versatile you can enjoy it for breakfast, a snack, dessert or part of any meal when you need an extra boost.

INGREDIENTS: per smoothie (@ 16 oz)

Base liquid: 1 cup liquid – Kefir, Raw Milk, Coconut Milk are good choices
Thickener: 1 banana – I also like using instead 1/2 avocado
Nuts: 3 TBS almond butter – you can use any other nut butter or a handful of soaked nuts – I usually use almonds – click here to understand about the benefits of soaking nuts
Sweetener: 1 TBS 100% pure maple syrup, honey or molasses or 1/8 – ¼ tsp or one or two dried dates (optional)
Optional add ins: ¼ cup of pumpkin puree, 1/4 yogurt, 1/4 berries, 2 TBS cocoa powder, kale or spinach, dash of cinnamon, 1 shot of espresso or ¼ cup of coffee, 1 TBS coconut oil, raw pastured raised chicken egg (do not use conventional eggs from the grocery store), vanilla extract, powdered ginger, nutmeg, etc.
Ice

METHOD:
Place all the liquids in your blender first. Then add the fruit, butters, oils and nuts and then the cinnamon. Process on medium speed until well mixed, then start adding ice, a handful at a time, gradually, until the smoothie is at your desired consistency. I usually turn up the speed to high during the ice process. Pour and enjoy!

Lemon-Ricotta Ice Cream with a Kick and Mango-Orange Sorbetto…and a meme….

Gosh, it feels like forever since I actually posted a recipe on this blog! The scary thing is that I have A LOT of them to post! With the New Foodie Blogroll launch over, I have accumulated a lot of recipes and photos of dishes I have been preparing this summer, that I haven’t had time to post (and scarily enough, posts I had written right before the wedding, that I still have to post Bad, bad, blogger!).

DISCLAIMER: So be forewarned that some of the upcoming posts aren’t going to be seasonal for most of my lovely readers. I see that there are Autumnal posts all over the blogosphere, and although the weather is a little less humid here, we are still very much in the throes of summertime, here in Florida! (OH HOW I MISS THE FALL!!!)

We are going to be heading to New England for our annual trip in October and my goal is to post all my backlog before then. So that when I come back, I have all fresh material!

So before this gets too out of date, here are the lovely ice cream recipes for you that I promised over a week ago! *blush*

Here are the next two installments of the Ice Cream Diaries…

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Lemon-Ricotta Ice Cream

I had some leftover ricotta cheese in the fridge and I had seen Laurie from Dalla Mia Cucina make a Ricotta and Rum Gelato and I thought – there you go! That’s what I want to do with my leftover ricotta! I had about a cup left, so I decided to fill in the rest with whole milk and Greek yogurt.

A while back I had made some lemon-ricotta muffins that I found on Rosa’s Yum Yums that were awesome so I decided that I wanted to make lemon-ricotta ice cream. Also I have been trying to find a solution to the super hard ice cream texture that most of our ice cream has (to the point that we have to take it out of the freezer 40 minutes before we want to eat it!!!), and since I know vodka doesn’t freeze, I put a nice shot of vanilla vodka into the mix. Just for texture purposes! It worked really well! So now I know the trick to making softer ice cream! ;)

Click through for recipe and for the Mango-Organe Sorbetto….AND the MEME!
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Daring Bakers: Fruits of the Summer Eclairs

(NOW WITH PICTURES!)

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I was so excited to see that this month’s challenge was for Eclairs! We are at my mom’s this weekend, and unfortunately although we brought the camera to take the photos, we did not bring the cable to download them. So I will have to put pictures up on Tuesday when we are back! :)

Anyway, I have always wanted to make them, and although there were things the recipe called for that I had never made in the past – namely choux pastry and pastry cream, the process didn’t look too difficult.

I waited until this weekend to do the challenge, because I have a really small kitchen and not a lot of pastry equipment, like pastry bags and tips and the like. But my mom does, and she has made cream puffs many times before. This was a crazy month for me, and so I felt this challenge had a better chance of getting finished, if I had her help. So I waited until yesterday to do the challenge, so I could do this fun project with her.

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When Roberto and I arrived here yesterday afternoon, I hadn’t even gotten the challenge ingredients yet. But I knew that I wanted to do vanilla pastry cream with some kind of summer fruits and the chocolate glaze on top. The only requirement for this challenge is that we use the recipe for the choux pastry and have one chocolate component – whether it be chocolate pastry cream or chocolate glaze on top. So we went to the store after dinner and there was an abundance of beautiful fruits. We got kadota and black mission figs, fresh blackberries and blueberries, and something I had never had before, fresh currants. They were very reminiscent of the lignonberries I had eaten when I lived in Norway, but again, I had never eaten lingnonberries. Both the currants and blackberries were tart, so I decided to combine them with the sweeter fruits.

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We made 3 different fillings. Regular vanilla pastry cream, pastry cream mixed with currants and blueberries and the other with pastry cream mixed with black figs and blackberries. We also made 2 different shapes – Eclair and puffs. Of course, as per Meeta and Tony’s specifications, we made a chocolate glaze for the tops. Everything turned out beautifully, except that a lot of the Eclairs and puffs fell. My friend Judy, warned me that this might happen in sweltering humid Florida heat, but the cream and fruit perked them right up, and they turned out really wonderful. We finished the project at 11:30 last night, but before retiring, we each tried one of each flavor, and it was really hard to pick a favorite. All I can say is that I am glad there are some left and I don’t think I will turn them into ice cream. Although I am not too sure what I am going to do with the extra pastry cream! :)

If you want to try your hand at Eclairs, please check out the wonderful recipe that follows after the cut by Pierre Herme.

Thanks to Meeta and Tony for this awesome challenge!

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Christmas Cookie Series: Cuccidata, Sicilian Fig Cookies

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These were the cookies growing up that really set our family Christmas cookies apart from the cookies you saw on other family tables. These are the cookies that my Nana made every year for my Pap who came here from Sicily when he was 3 years old because they were his absolute favorite. His most clear memory of his life in Sicily was sitting on the porch of his Nana, waiting for cookies. Perhaps the cookie he was waiting for was a Cuccidata, perhaps not. But I like to think it was. Sicilians are known for their love affair with sweets and make some of the best in the world.

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The fig is so under-rated here in America. People just really don’t know what to do with figs. I am a huge lover of this sensual fruit. I have shown my adoration of it on pizza, on salad and even as a jam. It can be sweet, savory or in between. There are endless ways to use this beautiful fruit, but one of the best ways is in these cookies. Dried figs are mixed with raisins, a ground whole orange (peel and all) and walnuts to create a filling for one of the softest best smelling dough I have ever worked with. Then the fun part is in true colorful, Sicilian fashion, get crazy with the colors and decorations-colored icing, sprinkles and this year, chocolate, really make each one of these cookies special. These cookies mean Christmas for the DiPiazza family. So I made these with my mom to honor the generations of DiPiazzas before us. Hope you enjoy!
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Figs Glorious Figs: Ode To The Fig At Summer’s End

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As everyone here knows, I am obsessed with figs and fig recipes. Their exterior beauty is exotic and captivating, while the soft, creamy sweet fruit on the inside is so unexpected. I just adore the fig and since summer is drawing to an end, I am posting two more fig recipes I think you will enjoy:
Parmesan Stuffed Figs with Balsamic Reduction and Drunken Figs.

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Recipe: Fresh Fig and Sage Grilled Pizza

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I saw a recipe for fresh fig pizza with blue cheese in Vegetarian Times years ago. I have a huge collection of recipes I have torn out of magazines and newspapers, printed from online, etc etc over the years. These are recipes that have given me inspiration on creating new flavors and dishes. Every time I move, which seems to have been quite a few times over these past few years, I go through the box and get rid of the ones I will never make or have lost their lustor.

This recipe has stuck with me over the years and I finally decided to try my version of it. As you know from my recent post about figs, fresh figs are finally in season and so I have been eating quite a lot of them! Since Roberto is always looking for a good ITALIAN pizza crust – (no New York style crust, here)– to no avail yet in a restaurant, we have been trying to devise our own. The secret to a great Italian pizza crust is of course the high temperatures in which they are quickly cooked. So I decided to finish the pizzas by grilling them off at the end, in a 600 F grill to get it to the right consistency. It definitely got the Roman’s seal of approval. I also drizzled the pizzas with olive oil and balsamic vinegar when they came out of the grill to give it a little something extra!
Buon Appetito!
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