Thursday, September 26, 2013

fig and cardamom almond tea cakes

the leaves are starting to turn, and pumpkins are showing up everywhere. while i'm not quite ready to dive into all those pumpkin recipes, i am easing my way into fall baking/cooking/eating with FIGS.

figs have such a short season that i try to hoard as many as i can. this year i hit the jackpot when jade's parents brought over a huge box of them from their tree. amazing. i'm trying to ration them, but since they're pretty ripe and delicate i need to use them up quickly. mostly i'm eating them fresh or cut up in a salad (my go-to lunch: arugula, avocado, and figs—scallions and quinoa if i have them on hand), but i've also been looking at making them into some figgy sweets. i've already made fig ice cream, so i looked for something baked: fig and cardamom almond tea cakes.

a freshly cut fig is so pretty and glittery (and strange-looking); it's nice to show it off. this recipe makes light and spicy (i may have been a bit heavy-handed with the cardamom…oops…) tea cakes, each adorned with a fresh fig half. the results are visually appealing and pack a good amount of flavor in a small bite with just the right level of sweetness. i'll probably use a lot less cardamom next time, or omit it completely, to better highlight the almond and fig pairing.

so that used up six figs—only twenty or thirty more to go!
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:: fig and cardamom almond tea cakes ::
(recipe from indiaphile)
makes 12.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup rice flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated (i left this out and upped the cardamom)
1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 egg whites
6 fresh figs, halved

preheat oven to 375F. butter the insides of a muffin tray lightly and set inside.

heat the butter in a small saute pan until it turns medium brown. keep an eye on it, it can burn fast! turn off the heat and set aside.

combine the ground almonds, powdered sugar, rice flour, salt, cardamom, nutmeg and lemon zest. add in the egg whites and mix. add the browned butter and stir until the mixture is well blended and smooth.

divide the batter into the muffin cups. top each cup with half of a fig and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.

remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan. remove cakes and cool on a cooling rack.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

union square cafe

one last fancy meal before sean headed off to the great white north (aka canada, or more specifically montreal). what better send off than an old-school danny meyer place.

our reservations were at 615pm, which is pretty early for us, but it gave us enough time to grab a beer at heartland brewery, enjoy a leisurely dinner, and still get home before 11pm! heehee.

we decided to go a little light and skip entrees, ordering appetizers and small plates to share. started with oysters: kumamotos (ca) for me and little bays (nh) for sean, and two snacks: crispy pig ears with tarragon mustard and a stuffed squash blossom. next up, the scallop crudo with summer peppers and sungold tomatoes and the crispy pork and watercress salad with pickled green tomato relish, avocado, and black beans.
then as our mains, small portions of the ricotta gnocchi with tomato-basil passatina and pecorino romano and the summer squash raviolini with slow roasted tomatoes and basil. in place of dessert we opted for some "corrected" coffees (coffee with bailey's).
as always service was spot on, and we couldn't have been more pleased with the meal. i think this was a nice way to celebrate the beginning of sean's new adventure~ montreal, get ready!