Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Figs and Honey

Not long ago my boyfriend and I were invited to dinner at a friend's house, and as was expected, the feast that we enjoyed was full of fresh, local, flavorful ingredients. Our hosts are remarkable gourmets, and so I was not surprised when, as we were chatting before the meal, the dessert was casually explained as “a grilled fig dish with thyme and Gorgonzola that we've been dying to try.” I needed little more description before I, myself, was salivating toward dessert, and wondering how inappropriate it would be to suggest that I make the fig toasts before the main course, so that I could taste them to make sure they were “okay.” Instead, I held my tongue and patiently waited through the delicious main course. As soon as I brought the dinner dishes to the sink, though, my hostess beat me to the punch, exclaiming that it was time to start on the figs.

The recipe, from the Herbfarm Cookbook, is one that she marked and starred afterward; the dish was amazingly light and summery, but bold in taste (from the cheese and the honey). The sweetness of the figs and honey was offset by the Gorgonzola, but I ate a few honey-drizzled figs on their own, and I found them to be more than appetizing. This is a dessert I believe I would see at a fine restaurant, the toasts artfully arranged on fancy china with swizzles of thyme-soaked honey in decorative patterns on the plate. And to be able to make it with my gracious foodie hosts, and to enjoy it on their porch as the sun set on a beautiful August evening, was too sweet for words.

Grilled Figs With Thyme, Honey and Gorgonzola Toasts
From The Herbfarm Cookbook

¼ cup mild or medium-strength honey, such as clover or blackberry
6 sprigs fresh thyme
12 large ripe figs
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 baguette
6 ounces Gorgonzola cheese, at room temperature

Simmer honey in small saucepan, and add thyme sprigs. Let cool for 15 minutes or more while grilling the figs and bread. Start a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill or preheat a gas grill. Cut figs in half, and toss them in a small bowl with 2 teaspoons olive oil and thyme leaves. Set grill rack 4 inches from fire. When the charcoal is ashed over and glowing, or the gas grill is medium-hot, grill figs quickly until they are heated through but not collapsed, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter. Cut 24 1/2-inch-thick slices from the bread, and brush both sides lightly with olive oil. Toast bread on both sides on the grill away from direct heat. Spread Gorgonzola cheese on toast, and top with figs. Remove thyme sprigs from honey with a fork and discard, then drizzle honey over figs and toast slices. Serve at once.

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