Posts filed under 'food and friends'

Pastry, Figs, Stilton, Walnut and Port Wine Reduction

Every so often, my friends and I gather and have little “cooking parties”, this appetizer was something I whipped up at one of these soirés. The recipe was taken off of and I have to say this little dish was quite delicious.

However, in the future, I would serve this as Epicurious recommends as an after-dinner dessert (instead of appetizer), since it’s sweetness along with the strong flavor of the cheese lends itself to an upscale dessert.

Warm Black Mission Fig, Walnut Crunch, and Blue Cheese Tartlets
Recipe taken from Epicurious

INGREDIENTS for Walnut Crunch:

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chopped toasted walnuts

INGREDIENTS for Figs and Puff Pastry:

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon water
Pinch of salt
9 fresh figs (preferably black Mission), stemmed, cut lengthwise in half
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup ruby Port
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half of 17.3-ounce package), thawed
3 ounces La Fourme d’Ambert or Stilton blue cheese, diced or coarsely crumbled, room temperature
Honeycomb or honey


Stir honey, sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in medium skillet over medium heat until sugar melts. Cook until mixture boils and is deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Mix in walnuts. Pour out onto sheet of foil; cool completely. Chop walnut crunch into small pieces. Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS for Figs and Puff Pastry:

  • Stir 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon water, and salt in heavy large skillet over medium heat until sugar is evenly moist. Cook until sugar begins to turn golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes (mixture may be granular). Place figs in sugar mixture, cut side down, and cook until figs begin to release juice, about 3 minutes. Add butter; swirl skillet to melt. Remove skillet from heat. Add Port and let stand 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer figs to plate and cool. Return syrup to boil, whisking until smooth. Cool syrup completely. Figs and syrup can be made 1 day ahead. Cover separately and chill. Rewarm syrup before using.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with foil. Roll out thawed puff pastry on lightly floured surface to 12×8-inch rectangle. Using 3 1/2-inch round cutter, cut out 6 rounds; arrange on prepared sheet. Divide walnut crunch among pastry rounds. Top each with 3 fig halves, cut side up.
  • Bake tartlets until pastry is puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Tartlets can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm at 350°F for 8 minutes.
  • Arrange cheese atop warm tartlets. Brush or drizzle with warm Port syrup, then top with cube of honeycomb or drizzle with honey.
  • 1 comment January 17th, 2008

    The first bite’s free

    I have been friends with my friend, Lisa, since we were twelve years old, and twenty-five years later, we are still best friends.

    She knows every single quirk, habit (annoying and comical), every story, every secret. She is my memory when I can’t remember. And to this day, she is the one person that knows me, inside and out more than any other person. That’s just how it is.

    Anyway…Lisa of course knows my love of treats, and while she has no inclination towards the sweet side of things herself…she always helps me to indulge in mine. (Is this an evil plot to fatten me up?) Whether it’s keeping out a bowl of hershey kisses for me, or sending me the latest cookie recipe…she’s got my back when it comes to indulging my sweet tooth.

    One day a couple years ago, I was feeling down, and I dropped by her house for one thing or another. I walked into the kitchen to see her hovering over a cookie sheet filled with what I can only describe as foodie crack. When I asked her what she was making, she let out a maniacal laugh, which made me instantly crack up laughing, and as per usual when I’m with Lisa, the sad mood dissipated.

    What she was hovering over, was a simple mixture of puffed corn and sugar essentially, but it was evil in that simplicity. Lisa was making me crack corn. It was ridiculously addictive…and whenever I’m feeling super down, I bust out this recipe and crack up laughing at the memory of Lisa’s evil laugh, as she knew the true nature of the treat which she prepared.

    Crack Corn
    Recipe from Lisa Pomaranski


    1/2 lb butter (2 sticks, unsalted)
    1/2 cup corn syrup
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 tspn baking soda
    1 bag (8oz) corn pops (by Better Made).


  • Melt butter, corn syrup, and brown sugar in 2 qt. saucepan
  • Remove from heat and add baking soda stirring constantly, or syrup will spill over pot.
  • Pour syrup over corn pops that have been emptied in large bowl.
  • Mix well until all pops are coated.
  • Spread corn pops on jelly roll pan, and bake in 250 degree oven for 45 minutes or until lightly golden, tossing every 15 minutes
  • Be careful to check on them often so they don’t burn
  • 1 comment January 16th, 2008

    spicy yum grilled cheese

    my friend john and i love snacks. and whenever we would visit his mom at her cozy cute house, she would always make us little snacks and treats. bowls of tiny nuts, or crunchy things. little tiny fruits. or crispy shrimps in panko crumbs with yummy dips etc.

    well, one day…john and i were looking for something a little more sub-sub-substantial (a can of beans, some black-eyed peas, some nescafe and ice??)…

    no way! we were looking for some spicy grilled cheeses on texas toast. we’d gotten thee idea from one that we’d shared at some weird stand at a figure-8 race once. and john just got it in his head that we needed to duplicate this comforty spicy treat. so we went out to the store, furiously perusing the isles for the perfect bread, cheese, toast, butter, and yum…spicy peppers.

    when we arrived at his mom’s with groceries in tow, she thought we were both nuts. but we perservered. we got out pots, pans and spatulas, and concocted our tasty sandwiches with a dance in our pants. because gosh darn it…cooking with friends? is super fun.

    anyway…those sandwiches we made were pretty dang yum. but after experimenting with some ideas i had on the subject…i found the following recipe. i think it’s pretty tasty. and i hope you like it.

    SPICY GRILLED CHEESE recipe altered from one found on Epicurius

    3-ounces tomato paste
    2 tablespoons chopped canned chipotle chilies
    1 tablespoon light molasses
    6 slices sourdough bread – cut to texas toast thickness
    6 thick slices of cheddar cheese (i like extra sharp…but you can use mild, or even american cheese if you want)
    2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (optional)
    1 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional)
    1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)
    lots of butter (of course) room temperature


    1. Blend tomato paste, chilies, and molasses in processor until smooth.
    2. Spread tomato/pepper mixture over 1 side of each bread slice.
    3. Arrange 3 bread slices, sauce side up, on work surface. Divide half of cheese among bread slices.
    4. If desired, top with tomatoes, then onion, cilantro, and remaining cheese.
    5. Cover sandwiches with remaining bread slice, sauce side down. Spread butter on outside of sandwich tops and bottoms.
    6. Heat pan or griddle over medium heat.
    7. Cook until bread is golden and cheese is melted, about 5 minutes per side.

    Makes 3 sandwiches

    Add comment July 30th, 2006

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