Tag Archives | fig jam

Preserves in Action: Baguette with Ricotta, Fig Jam, and Baby Arugula

baguette with ricotta, fig jam, arugula

On Monday night, I took a cheese class at Metropolitan Bakery with Madame Fromage and Sue Miller of Birchrun Hills Farm (she is one of my very favorite Pennsylvania cheesemakers). It came just after a weekend in which I had taught and demo-ed enough to make my voice go hoarse, so it was doubly nice to sit back and let someone else do the teaching and explaining.

We began the tasting with an orienting sip of Birchrun’s raw milk, just hours from the cow and then, starting with fromage blanc, we sampled our way through six cheeses. There were slices of baguette and French berry roll from the Metropolitan ovens, and at the end, a little splash of madeira to drink with slices of Birchrun blue. It was one of the nicest evenings I’ve had in a while.

baguette with ricotta, fig jam, arugula

At the end of the class, we were packed off into a chilly night with warm cheeks and fresh baguettes. Scott is currently off carbs, so the work of eating this pointy loaf has been entirely mine (truly, it’s not a hardship). This morning, when I opened the paper bag, it was quite hard. Happily, I have a trick for refreshing bread that always works with Metropolitan’s loaves (they use a long fermentation period, which builds the interior structure and makes it more resilient).

I hacked off a chunk, sliced it down the middle and ran the pieces quickly under a dribbling kitchen faucet. I toasted the slices twice, once to help dry them out and again to give them some color. The end result is four-day-old toasted baguette that is flavorful, with just the right amount of crunch and chew.

Now, here’s where the Preserves in Action component comes in. I spread the toasts with fresh ricotta cheese (what I really longed for was Sue’s fromage blanc, but Claudio’s ricotta is a more than acceptable substitute), dolloped on fig jam, and piled up baby arugula. I added a few turns of a pepper grinder and breakfast was ready. This meal could easily serve as lunch, or if cut into smaller pieces, as a starter for a party.

Curious why I know so much about this bakery’s practices? Many moons ago, Scott and I used to make an online cooking show called Fork You and in one episode, we visited Metropolitan’s baking facility and made bread with James Barrett, one of the founders. The old blog appears to be corrupted, but the video is still available on Viddler’s blog if you’re interested in finding out more about them (and seeing the glasses I was wearing five years ago).

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Fig Jam, Garden Harvest and a Cooking Class

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Throughout the beginning of September, my friend Albert kept tweeting about all the figs he was picking throughout the city. While I’m a big fan of urban gleaning (and I LOVE figs), during those weeks leading up to the wedding, I just didn’t have time to run around town, looking for fruit. Happily, Albert and I settled upon a plan. He’d bring some of his scavenged figs to my place and I’d teach him how to make jam with them. Then we’d split the fruits of our labors.

It was a fun early evening project and it was a kick to do a private jam tutorial. Albert’s posted a photo essay about our jamming session (and his photos are even more beautiful than anything I shoot, but he’s a pro so it’s okay).

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The photo you see above is the final harvest from my teeny, tiny garden plot that I’d mostly abandoned over the last month. My tomatillo plan seemed to really like the cooler days of fall and suddenly exploded with growth. It gave me pangs to rip it out, but sadly, with the first frost coming, it had to go. I have pickling plans for all those green tomatoes and I’m excited for the hot peppers!

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In other news, I’m back on the cooking class circuit. This time it’s not a canning class. I’m doing a class about squash at Foster’s this coming Saturday morning and from what I hear, there are still spots available. If you’re interested, please head over here and sign up!

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