<![CDATA[FORKS UP - Daily Blog]]>Wed, 12 Apr 2017 09:54:52 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Herbed Rice with Scallions, Saffron and Crispy Shallots]]>Wed, 12 Apr 2017 05:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/herbed-rice-with-scallions-saffron-and-crispy-shallots
This rice recipe from the March issue of Bon Appétit is a bit laborious, but it is well worth it. The rice is fluffy and wonderfully flavored with a mixture of herbs, scallions and crispy shallots. I see it pairing well with an Easter lamb dinner along with carrots, a side salad and a make-ahead dessert. Breaking the recipe up into a two day process made it less overwhelming for me. I cut the recipe in half since it easily serves 8 or more (the rice expands when you soak it). There are a few other steps I adjusted to make the recipe more streamline. The first time I made this recipe, I used layers of romaine lettuce between the rice instead of lavash, but I think this is an unnecessary step that can be omitted altogether. I made another version of the recipe omitting the layering of lavash or lettuce and as a result, was able to produce a better crispy layer of rice at the bottom known as tadik, a prized aspect of Persian rice dishes. I skipped the step of mixing 1 teaspoon of the saffron water with 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice; instead I added the teaspoon of saffron water to the bottom the pot with the oil during the final phase of cooking the rice. I also skipped the dried rose petals to avoid gilding the lily. One final note, adding some roughly chopped pistachios for serving would not be out of place.

Herbed Rice with Scallions, Saffron and Crispy Shallots

  3 cups basmati rice

  Kosher salt
  Vegetable oil (for frying; about 3 cups)
  4 large shallots, thinly sliced into rings
  3/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  3/4 cup finely chopped dill
  3/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  1/2 cup finely chopped mint
 cup finely chopped tarragon
  1 teaspoon finely ground saffron threads
  4 4-inch squares lavash or 7 romaine lettuce leaves, dark green parts only
  4 green garlic or 4 scallions, white and pale-green parts only, finely chopped
  6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  1 tablespoon finely ground dried rose petals (optional)

Place rice in a large bowl and cover with lukewarm water. Agitate rice with your hands until water becomes cloudy; drain. Repeat process until water stays clear (about 4–5 times). Cover rice with 6 cups cold water and add a generous handful of salt. Soak uncovered at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours. Toss cilantro, dill, parsley, mint, and tarragon in a medium bowl; set aside 1 cup for serving. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil (using a nonstick pot will help the rice release at the end). Drain rice and add to pot, stirring gently to prevent any grains from sticking to the bottom. Bring to a boil and cook until grains begin to float on the surface and "dance" (rice should be almost tender but with a firm, opaque center), about 4 minutes. Drain rice and rinse well under cold water. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Wash out pot (at this point I covered the rice and left it out overnight and continued the process the next morning).

Dissolve saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water in a small bowl, set aside. Pour oil into a medium saucepan to come up the sides about 2", place over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, 10–12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer shallots to paper towels and season with salt. Strain oil into a small bowl; let cool. Pour 3 tablespoons shallot oil into clean pot. Swirl in 2 teaspoons saffron water; reserve remaining saffron water for serving. Oil mixture should barely coat bottom of pot; add more oil if needed. Season lightly with salt. Lay lavash across pot (don’t overlap). Spoon a third of rice over lavash; top with a third of herbs and a third of green garlic. Repeat, alternating layers of rice, herbs, and green garlic. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in rice (without hitting bottom of pot) to let steam escape. Wrap lid with a kitchen towel and cover pot. Cook over medium heat until herbs are slightly darkened, 10–15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, uncover and pour melted butter evenly over rice. Cover and cook until rice is fragrant and fluffy, 25 minutes. Remove from heat; let sit 10 minutes. Taste rice and season with more salt if needed. Scoop 1 1/2 cups rice into reserved saffron water and toss to color rice. Layer saffron rice with rice in pot, reserved herbs, and crispy shallots. Top with rose petals if using. Break up lavash crust into pieces and serve alongside rice. (Serves 8)
<![CDATA[Arugula Salad with Sweet Potato, Apple and Walnuts]]>Thu, 30 Mar 2017 13:16:30 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/arugula-salad-with-sweet-potato-apple-and-walnuts
I am always willing to experiment with new salad combinations and this recipe from The Wooden Palate contains one I have never tried. Apples and sweet potatoes together in one bowl is not something I would have considered, but I am now a convert. I made the salad twice and both times I used a Pink Lady apple as suggested. For the sweet potato I used a traditional orange flesh potato the first time, and a Japanese sweet potato (found at Whole Foods) the second time. Both were good, but the traditional sweet potato was sweeter than the Japanese; the latter was more refined and subtle. Since pomegranate is out of season, I skipped this ingredient, but will add it in the winter. I used feta and goat cheese separately in both versions of the salad, and frankly, they both work well. I was having difficulty finding arugula due to the shortage (recent flooding in California damaged crops), so the first time I made it, I served a mixture of spinach and arugula (which was available). The second time I made it this week, I found arugula at Whole Foods. Serve as an entrée for lunch, or as a side for dinner.

In case you were wondering, The Wooden Palate is primarily a shop that sells wooden products (the recipe was on their blog). If resources were unlimited, I would serve this salad in their Mod Bowl.

Arugula Salad with Sweet Potato, Apple, and Walnuts

For the Salad:

  1 large sweet potato (Korean or Japanese if available)
  Drizzle of olive oil (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  Salt and pepper to taste
  4 1/2 cups arugula
  6-8 leaves basil, cut into ribbons
  1/2 of an apple cut into bite-size pieces (Envy or Pink Lady)
  Handful of pomegranate seeds, optional (about 1/4 cup)
  Handful of walnuts, roughly chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  Sprinkle of feta or goat cheese

For the Lemon Mustard Vinaigrette:
  1 small shallot, chopped
  3/4 cup olive oil
  1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  1 teaspoon honey
  Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing: In a blender or food processor, purée shallot, oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey until smooth; season with salt and pepper. For the salad: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cut sweet potato into 1/2" pieces. On a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or foil, toss sweet potato pieces with drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until soft, about 25-30 minutes. Remove from pan and allow to cool while you prepare the rest of the salad (sweet potato can be made one day in advance). In a large serving bowl, add arugula, basil, apple, pomegranate seeds and sweet potato. Toss with lemon mustard vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste. Top with walnuts and cheese. (Serves 4 as a side)
<![CDATA[The Verdant Garden (It's 5:00 Somewhere)]]>Fri, 17 Mar 2017 13:34:40 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/the-verdant-garden-its-500-somewhere
Skip the green beer this St. Patty's Day and treat yourself to a fresh cocktail using green herbs and cucumber. I streamlined this recipe from Feasting at Home following the suggestion to make a fennel-infused simple syrup in lieu of Pernod. I loved the herbaceous quality, the acid from the fresh lemon, and the balance that was struck by the fennel-infused simple syrup in this drink. It's like a bright spring day in a glass. Enjoy the last days of SXSW,  the beginning of spring and all of the luck of the Irish to you.

The Verdant Garden

  1/2 small Turkish cucumber, sliced into 1/4 inch slices, about 1/4 cup (I used a regular seedless cucumber)
  Handful tender herbs, torn (basil, Italian parsley, celery leaves, or mint or a mix)
  1/2 ounce fennel-infused simple syrup (see note)
  2 ounces of vodka
  3/4 ounce fresh lemon or lime juice
  Splash celery bitters (optional)
  1 thin slice Turkish cucumber (use a veggie peeler) and violet, for garnish

In a shaker, add the cucumber and herbs and muddle with the simple syrup. Add vodka, fresh lemon juice and the celery bitters. Fill shaker with ice and shake well. Strain through a fine mesh strainer into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with cucumber slice and flower. (Serves 1)

Note: Make a fennel bulb-infused fennel seed-infused simple syrup, using one part water to one part sugar or honey. Heat water and sugar or honey in a small saucepan, add fennel bulb or fennel seed (I used 1/2 tablespoon of fennel seeds with 1/2 cup of water and 1/2 cup sugar). Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves, allow to cool. Remove seeds or fennel bulb by straining syrup into a glass jar. This keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks. 

<![CDATA[Dukkah]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/dukkah
I ran across the recipe for this Egyptian condiment in Nopi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully and now feel I should have it on hand at all times. It is essentially a mixture of roasted nuts, seeds and spices. It has a very distinctive flavor and tastes great on salads, roasted vegetables, mixed into hummus, and works as a seasoning to  finish meat or poultry--basically anything savory. Best advice is not to overprocess the nuts in the mortar and pestle. It keeps well in an airtight container for one month.


  2 1/2 ounces hazelnuts, with their skins
  2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
  1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  1 tablespoon dry green peppercorns (or white, as an alternative)
  3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
  1/2  teaspoon Maldon sea salt
  1 teaspoon paprika

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees. On a parchment lined baking sheet, place the hazelnuts in a single layer and cook for 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the sunflower seeds, separating them from the hazelnuts.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Place a heavy skillet on medium heat for 5 minutes to warm up the pan. Place the the fennel seeds in the pan in a single layer and roast for 30 seconds (set the timer; you do not want any of the seeds to burn). Add the cumin seeds to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds or until they start to pop. Transfer the seeds to a small bowl to cool. Place the pan back on medium heat, add the peppercorns and cook until they start to pop, about 30 seconds. Place these in a separate bowl from the other seeds and allow to cool. Roast the coriander seeds for up to a minute, or until they start to pop. Place these in a separate bowl. Reduce the heat to low and add the sesame and nigella seeds to the pan, toasting them until the sesame seeds turn light brown; stirring occasionally then remove from heat. Once the hazelnuts have cooled, rub them between the palms of your hands (or in between a folded tea towel) to discard some of the skins. Using a mortar and pestle, chop the hazelnuts coarsely; transfer to a medium bowl. Lightly crush the cumin and fennel seeds with the mortar and pestle; add to the hazelnuts. Repeat process with the coriander seeds, then the peppercorns and then the sunflower seeds. Add these to the nut bowl, along with the sesame and nigella seeds. Add salt and paprika; mix well.
<![CDATA[Vinny Margarita (It's 5:00 Somewhere)]]>Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/vinny-margarita-its-500-somewhere
photo courtesy of Vinaigrette
Since today is National Margarita Day it was decided the usual Friday cocktail post needed to be pushed up a few days. This drink from Vinaigrette leans more toward a Paloma rather than a traditional margarita, but I couldn't resist the use of fresh grapefruit juice since citrus season is at its peak. The elderflower liqueur is a nice floral addition, while the grapefruit bitters keeps things from getting too sweet. The incredible spring weather we have been experiencing lately paired with the enormous live oak tree that shades Vinaigrette's lovely patio, makes for one of the most relaxing places in town to sip a cocktail.

Vinny Margarita

  1 ounce Herradura Silver Tequila
  1 ounce St. Germain
  2 ounces fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, plus a grapefruit segment for garnish
  Drop of grapefruit bitters
  Crushed Himalayan pink salt

Add tequila, St. Germain, grapefruit juice and grapefruit bitters into cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously. Salt the rim of a 12 ounce glass with crushed Himalayan pink salt. Fill glass with ice. Pour cocktail into glass and garnish with a grapefruit segment. (Serves 1)

<![CDATA[Shrimp Poke with Pickled Radishes]]>Thu, 16 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/shrimp-poke-with-pickled-radishes
This recipe from the February issue of Bon Appétit was tagged as "healthyish", part of their new online launch. I was intrigued by this dish since I have wanted to make poke at home for some time, but wasn't quite sure about serving raw fish as an entrée. You can get around the raw fish issue with this version since the shrimp is lightly poached. I substituted the soy sauce for tamari (to keep it gluten-free) and used nori instead of the hijiki since the latter was a little too steep in price for the amount required. There are several other poke recipes in BA's February issue to try if you have no reservations about serving raw fish, or you can leave it to the professionals and drop by Poke-Poke, the local go-to for bowls that recently opened a second location on Hancock Road.

Shrimp Poke with Pickled Radish

  6 red radishes, trimmed, thinly sliced
  3/4 cup white wine vinegar
  3 tablespoons sugar
  1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more
  1 1/2 cups short-grain sushi rice
  1 tablespoon dried hijiki (seaweed)
  1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  1/4 cup soy sauce (I used tamari to keep the dish gluten-free)
  1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  4 teaspoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  1 tablespoon fish sauce
  2 teaspoons honey
  1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  2 cups baby mizuna or arugula (I used arugula)
  2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds (toast in a small pan over medium heat for about 5 minutes)

Place radishes in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, add  white wine vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Pour brine over radishes and allow to cool. Cover and chill at least 2 hours (radishes can be pickled 5 days ahead; keep chilled). Rinse rice until water runs clear (this removes surface starch and prevents a gummy texture). In a medium saucepan, add rice and 1 1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 1/2 cups water and let sit 30 minutes. Bring rice to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork; keep covered to stay warm. Soak seaweed in 1/2 cup cold water in a small bowl until softened, about 11 minutes. Drain water; set aside. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil then season generously with salt. Add shrimp, cover pot, and remove from heat. Let sit until shrimp are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Drain and place shrimp to a bowl of ice water; allow to cool. Drain and pat dry, then cut shrimp into 1/2" pieces. Set aside (shrimp can be cooked 8 hours ahead; cover and chill). In a large bowl, whisk shallot, soy sauce, gochujang, rice vinegar, fish sauce, honey, and oil. Add reserved seaweed and shrimp to honey-gochujang dressing; mix well to coat. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Taste and season with more salt if necessary. Dividing rice among four bowls, top with shrimp mixture, drained pickled radishes, and mizuna or arugula. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. (Serves 4)
<![CDATA[My Funny Clementine (It's 5:00 Somewhere)]]>Mon, 13 Feb 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/my-funny-clementine-its-500-somewhere
Do you have a plan for your Valentine tomorrow? Whether you are cooking at home (maybe this, this and/or this), or you are going to brave the masses at a restaurant, this concoction from Liquor.com would be a nice preamble to declaring your love. Not too sweet, not too bitter, it's a nice blend of citrus, gin and bubbles. Sending good love vibes out to all.

My Funny Clementine

  1 1/2 ounces gin
  4 clementine segments
  1/4 ounce lemon juice
  1/2 ounce simple syrup
  2 dashes blood orange bitters
  Prosecco, dry sparkling wine or Champagne, well chilled

Place all of the ingredients except the sparkling wine into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well until very cold and strain into a flute glass. Top with sparkling wine (or Prosecco or Champagne) and garnish with an orange twist or orange wedge. (Serves 1)

<![CDATA[Kemuri Tatsu-ya]]>Tue, 31 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/kemuri-tatsu-ya
photo courtesy of Eater Austin
This past weekend my husband and I stopped by the newly opened Kemuri Tatsu-ya, the izakaya and bar from the team that helms the wildly popular Ramen Tatsu-ya. Located on E. 2nd Street near Pleasant Valley in the former home of Live Oak Barbecue, Kemuri brings together a blend of laid-back Japanese pub and Texas smokehouse. We arrived just a few minutes after opening and noticed several people standing outside adding their names to a wait list. This led me to imagine a long wait, but the host was just organizing those queuing up, so the wait to be seated was ten minutes or less. If you find yourself waiting for a table, there is a makeshift bar out front to ease the pain. Our table was ready fairly quickly and we were led through the main dining area with a very rustic smokehouse vibe, to the back area that is enclosed on all sides by thick plastic to protect diners from the January chill. Toasty warm heat lamps made the experience perfect from a comfort standpoint. Off to one side there was another covered open air dining area with an abundance of heat lamps. I imagine these outdoor areas will be perfect al fresco dining in the coming spring and fall months, and pleasant in the summer with the addition of fans. McCray & Co. designed the interior, which is a balanced equilibrium of east and west: tatami mat ceilings, stoneware, Japanese-style lanterns, Texas paraphernalia, leather booths and antlers. As with Ramen Tatsu-ya, Kemuri sets the mood with a great music selection that keeps the mood fun and energetic.
Charred Shishito
Daily Sashimi
Duck Breast
Tokyo Street Corn
The bar program, created by former Midnight Cowboy general manager, Michael Phillips, offers an array of cocktails, whiskey, sake, beer (draft and cans), and shochu. I opted for the Evening Star cocktail made with Texas gin, potato shochu, bianco vermouth, yuzu and a pretty purple flower petal for garnish. It was a balanced drink which paired nicely with all of our menu selections. The main menu consists of small plates that are shareable, in addition to larger portions. For the thrill seeker, there is the Chinmi menu, a separate small selection of items ranging from "funky" to "not funky".

Many of the dishes here are cooked with soy sauce (which contains wheat), so there are a limited amount of items that are gluten-free, but our server kindly went out of her way to confirm those items that are GF, or those that could be made free of gluten. We started with the Charred Shishito peppers served with barley miso aioli and bonito flake (be aware the dipping sauce is not gluten-free). We loved the char on the peppers and the addition of creamy coolness from the aioli that staves off the bite from the occasional hot pepper. The Daily Sashimi, (yellowtail if memory serves), was well prepared and extremely fresh tasting, with a hint of smoke. The Tokyo Street Corn with yuzu pepper aioli and cotija (an ingredient was omitted to make this item gluten-free) was tender and sweet. From the Smoked section of the menu, we tried the Duck Breast with orange ponzu, which was a favorite. The citrus was a nice added touch to the smokey duck. We also really enjoyed the Fish Collar (the cut originating from the neck area of the fish) with yuzu salt, lemon and cilantro garnish. It was a simple dish; the fish's subtle flavor highlighted by the salt and lemon. My husband doesn't follow a gluten-free diet, so he ordered the "TX Butter" Tsukmen Ramen, which is served with a bowl of perfect noodles that are then dipped, bite by bite, into a bowl of koterri dipping broth with brisket, ajitama, scallion, lime, hierbas de Tejas, and smoked jalapeño. He devoured it, but I did manage to sneak a heavenly bite of brisket. He also had the BBQ Eel with herb salad and Sansho peppers. Both the eel and the ramen were a hit with him.

Our server confided that the kitchen team plans to add more gluten-free and vegetarian items to the menu in the coming weeks, so that is encouraging. I honestly felt satisfied and only had a bit of menu envy over a few items like the Miso Marinated Scallop skewers and the Guaca-Poke with tuna, wasabi, pickled red onion and Kaiware sprout (and maybe the Chili Cheese Octopus Fritters). It would mean the world if a few of these items were made available with GF miso, GF flour, and/or tamari instead. There is really nothing like Kemuri Tatsu-ya in Austin (at least not until Hai Hospitality opens their new concept, Loro, later this fall), which might be reason enough to visit. But the thing that will keep me returning is the consistent quality that this group delivers, which can be found in all of their restaurants.

<![CDATA[Brassicas Bowl]]>Thu, 26 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/brassicas-bowl
I received the February issue of Bon Appétit (which introduces their new website healthyish.com) this week and when I saw this recipe in the R.S.V.P. section, I knew that I had to make it. The recipe comes from Two Hands in New York City and it has all of the elements I tend to gravitate toward: lots of vegetables (one roasted, the rest raw), an abundance of crunchy seeds (don't forget to toast the sesame seeds--it makes a difference), good fat from creamy avocado and protein from boiled egg and hummus. I cut the recipe in half to serve two, but I think making extra is a good idea for leftovers (split leftovers and add remaining dressing the next day). The combination of all this umami lusciousness was almost more than I could bear. I relished every bite and will definitely put this bowl on regular rotation. It made for a very satisfying dinner, and I think it would be perfect for weekend brunch.

Brassicas Bowl

  4 large eggs
  1 bunch broccolini, trimmed
  5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  Kosher salt
  1 small shallot, finely chopped
  2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
  1/2 bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into 2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  8 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, thinly sliced lengthwise
  Freshly ground black pepper
  1/2 cup unsalted, roasted sunflower seeds, divided
  1/2 cup hummus
  1 avocado, quartered lengthwise
  2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
  1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  Crushed red pepper flakes for garnish

Preheat oven to 500°F. Place broccolini on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt. Roast, turning occasionally, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, 9 minutes. Allow to cool, then coarsely chop. While broccolini is in the oven, cook eggs in a medium pot of boiling water for 7 minutes; yolks will be slightly soft (I had some hard boiled eggs that were cooked for 11 minutes already in the refrigerator, so I look forward to trying the 7 minute version next time). Drain the eggs then transfer to a bowl of ice water and allow to cool, about 15 minutes. Drain; peel eggs and cut in half lengthwise. Set aside. Whisk shallot, vinegar, mustard, and remaining 4 tablespoons of oil in a large bowl until emulsified; season with salt. Add kale and brussels sprouts and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Massage until slightly softened, about 5 minutes (I massaged for about a minute and then allowed the sprouts and kale to marinate for 4). Add roasted broccolini and 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds; toss again. To serve, prepare 4 large bowls by adding some hummus to each and smear with the back of a spoon across the base of each bowl. Divide salad among bowls and add an avocado wedge and 2 reserved egg halves to each. Top with chives, sesame seeds, and remaining sunflower seeds; garnish  with a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. (Serves 4)
<![CDATA[Fig Salad with Radicchio and Hazelnuts]]>Tue, 17 Jan 2017 06:00:00 GMThttp://forksupblog.com/daily-blog/fig-salad-with-radicchio-and-hazelnuts
Ongoing health issues of family members have made it necessary to put the blog aside from late December 2016 until now. I am still cooking but the frequency of posts may decrease somewhat until things settle down a bit. In the meantime, here is a wonderful salad I made over the holidays from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More. It is colorful, flavorful and hits all the high notes of texture and crunch. I know the combination of roasted onions with sweet fruit and cinnamon sounds odd, but it really works well together. When figs were not plentiful, I substituted anjou pears and used white balsamic vinegar in the dressing and it was wonderful. I can see trying sweet citrus too (like Rio Star grapefruit or blood oranges) when figs are waning. This makes a great starter or side dish and a healthy start to the new year.

Fig Salad with Radicchio and Hazelnuts

  2 small red onions
  3 tablespoons olive oil

  1/2 cup hazelnuts, with skin (I removed skins after roasting)
  2 ounces radicchio leaves, about half a small head, roughly torn
  1 1/2 cups basil leaves
  1 1/2 cups watercress
  6 ripe fresh figs (or substitute 1 anjou pear, trimmed)
  1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Peel and trim the onions, cut each lengthwise and then cut each half into three wedges (about 1 1/4"). Mix the onions with 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil, a pinch of salt, some pepper and roast on a baking sheet in the oven, stirring a few times while cooking, about 20-25 minutes, or until soft and golden. Remove and allow to cool. Once cool, break the onions up with your hands into bite-size chunks; set aside. Turn the oven down to 325°F. Once it reaches this temperature, place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool and then break roughly with the flat side of a big knife. Assemble the salad in layers on four individual plates. Mix the basil, watercress and radicchio together and place some on each plate. Cut the figs lengthwise into 4-6 pieces. Place a few fig pieces and some roasted onion on the leaves. Add more leaves and top with remaining fig and onion, creating a small pyramid. In a small cup, whisk together remaining olive oil, vinegar, cinnamon, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Drizzle over salad and garnish with toasted hazelnuts. (Serves 4)