After my gloriously graceful fall a few days ago, my ankle’s been wrapped and propped up on pillows while I lounge on the couch with a book, trying not to let the heat lull me to sleep. “Meds, elevation, and rest,” the doctor told me when I went to see her. “Don’t over-exert your foot, keep it iced to reduce the swelling, and just take it easy.”
…right. That lasted all of about 12 hours before I got too antsy, pushed myself off the couch, and spent a good three or four hours perusing downtown and the market.
Good idea? Unlikely. But it was mighty productive at the very least.
Today’s been more quiet, which is also perfectly lovely. Mostly I’ve been inside, taking refuge from the scorching heat that’s been plaguing us as of late. It’s really the first weekend I’ve had to myself here at the apartment; no parties to go home to or errands to run, so naturally I’ve been doing a) nothing, or b) cooking.
Still, there’s something thrilling about going all out on a nice meal, with no one to please but yourself. Perhaps it’s just me, spending too much time in my own head these past few weeks, but there are few things I love more than a stereo humming Pearl Django and butter sizzling in the pan.
Plus, it’s the biggest act of rebellion against sitting on the couch all day that I can think of without actually having to leave my house. (There is truly an art to my laziness.)
There are, quite honestly, fewer things I think more beautiful than fresh figs. Delicate pinkness against a backdrop of white, wrapped up in a dark skin tinged with blues, greens, and deep purples. It’s like a watercolor painting come to life, bringing with it a light, earthly sweetness.
I’d never seen one in person until about two days ago, actually. Dried figs, certainly. Fig jam, fig newtons, what have you. But I’d never been able to find fresh figs, only ever seeing their – really, ethereal – loveliness in the form of photos. To me, they were this fruit shrouded in a sort of heavenly mystery, glorified in religious and mythological text and hiding surreptitiously in paintings and photographs.
But amidst my wanderings earlier this week, I came across a box of mission figs and before I knew it had them perched on the top shelf of my fridge, patiently waiting to be used till the weekend. I will admit: I was nervous. I had no idea what to do with them. I kept glancing at them every time I opened the fridge to grab something, feeling as though they were silently judging me, like I was totally unworthy of having them in my possession.
(I mean, it may also have been the meds, but who’s to know.)
In any case, I knew I wanted to do something light with them. I’ve seen cakes and crostatas with figs baked in them, but wasn’t feeling up to having an entire dessert at my disposal, drying out on my countertop. But honey and goat cheese came immediately to mind, and once the idea made itself present, I ran with it. So, produce laid across the counter, knives well and sharpened, and foot wrapped nice and tight, I got to work.
Ingredients for the quenelle:
- one small package (about 4 oz) fresh goat cheese
- 1/8 cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp vanilla
Ingredients for the caramelized fig compote:
- 1 container (about 8 oz) mission figs
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 heaping tbsp honey
- pinch of salt
Beat goat cheese, heavy cream, honey, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spoon mixture into a bowl, cover with cling film, and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
Rinse the figs, cut off the stems, and quarter them. In a medium saucepan over medium flame, whisk butter, brown sugar, and vanilla. Heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture starts to bubble. Gently add the figs to the pan and coat them in the sugar. Reduce heat and allow figs to simmer in the syrup for 5-7 mins. Pour figs and syrup into a bowl and allow to cool.
To form the quenelle, take two spoons of the same size (note that the size of the spoon will determine the size of the quenelle). Scoop a generous amount of the chilled goat cheese into one spoon. Gently press the bowl of the second spoon against the cheese, scooping the cheese from the first spoon into the second. Transfer the cheese back to the first spoon in the same manner. Repeat until the cheese forms a smooth oval shape, and then place the cheese onto a serving plate. Top with a few spoonfuls of the compote and one or two caramelized figs.
I love the delicate sweetness of the fig against the tanginess of the goat cheese in this dessert. It’s light and luxurious and gorgeously extravagant, especially after a lunch of sautéed chicken bathed in mushroom cream sauce (I was really hitting the goat cheese theme hard today).
Though, I’ve now used up all my culinary energy on lunch and dessert, so I can’t make the same promise of indulgence this evening. Really, I’m anticipating a lovely dinner of yogurt and carrot sticks.
But, you know, there’s leftovers for tomorrow, and a fridge stocked with honeyed goat cheese and caramelized figs to look forward to for the week. So I can hardly complain.