August 21, 2012

Fig, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto Baguette

Fig, Goat Cheese, and Prosciutto Baguette
My Nonna lived in a Brooklyn apartment next to an espresso café and a small market with a great candy selection.  Nonna’s apartment was a strange playground; the stuffed piranha on the window sill, the massive wooden crucifix over the guest bed, the symphony of city sounds from the street below and the sweet hiding place behind her corner armchair.  My favorite thing to do when visiting in the summers was to pick figs.
Off the kitchen was a tiny porch and a steep iron staircase which led down to Nonna’s garden; the length of the railings were suffocated in zucchini plants.  At the bottom of the staircase was a fig tree twice my height surrounded by robust basil and tomato plants and probably other stuff too but I always had my sights set on the figs.

I would pick some low hanging ones and then use Nonna’s nifty fig-picking device to snag the out of reach ones.  The fig-picking device was a bottomless soda bottle fitted on the end of an old broomstick.  A groove in the side of the bottle would catch and cut a fig stem when pushed upwards.  The fig would fall in the bottle; I’d lower down the device and collect my prize, a plump juicy fig with white milk dripping from the stem.

My Nonna is no longer with us, neither is that apartment or that glorious fig tree, but what’s left is a great memory and a lasting love of figs.  I look forward to them each summer, but these days I pluck them from a plastic container instead of a tree.  Sometimes I pair them with prosciutto, fluffy goat cheese and honey all smashed on some toasty bread.  The result is a marriage of flavors that will cause you to lose yourself.  It’s meditation without all the sitting around and doing nothing.  It’s a easy way to practice living in “the now”.  Take a bite, close your eyes and find yourself under your own fig tree with Nonna looking down from above. 

Makes 2 appetizer portions or 1 entrée portion

To make the baguette:

1 ten inch mini baguette (or palm sized piece of regular sized baguette), sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 heaping tablespoons goat cheese
Coarse salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
2-3 slices prosciutto
3 large fresh figs, rinsed, de-stemmed, sliced
1-2 large leaves fresh basil, finely sliced

To make the dressing:

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Coarse salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Brush cut sides of the bread with olive oil using a pastry brush (or drizzle and smear it on with a spoon if you don’t have a pastry brush).  Sprinkle the cut sides of the bread with a pinch of salt and 3-5 turns of freshly cracked pepper per side.  Spread the goat cheese evenly on each cut side of bread, using 1 heaping tablespoon per side.  Place bread, cut sides up, on a cookie sheet and transfer to the oven, baking for about 18 minutes or until the bread and cheese are a light golden color and the bread is lightly crisped.

Meanwhile, to make the dressing , whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly cracked black pepper.

To assemble the baguette, place 1 to 1 1/2 slices of prosciutto on each piece of bread, then place the fig slices evenly on top of the prosciutto.  Sprinkle the basil and drizzle the dressing evenly over the baguette.

No comments:

Post a Comment