I wanted to get a post in before September ran away, but I may be late. I have been stymied once again by technology. It’s been a theme since I moved into my house just before Labor Day. Mercury is still in retrograde, and I am feeling the full force of it. Please excuse my rather naked post as I am unable to post my photos. I will be moving off of WordPress and onto a different hosting platform soon, so I can avoid the byzantine updates and workarounds. I wanted to share a recipe anyway and will post photos at a later date.
Transition has been the theme for the summer and fall as I trade coasts once again. It’s good to be back in the Pacific Northwest although both Annabella and I miss our friends, our (bigger) house and the glorious ocean. We are, however enjoying reconnecting with friends and familiar haunts. And, it’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the variety of food and drink in this town. Yummy! We have been ticking off eateries and other treats that we pined for on the West Coast. We are living in North Portland, a leap from our former digs in Southeast Portland. So, we get the familiarity of our old city along with the novelty of discovering a new hood – best of both worlds.
I have been in my new house just about a month and am still unpacking and adjusting to a much smaller abode. Throw in a clogged tub, finicky thermostat, some nefarious neighborhood happenings, bland walls calling out for color and the clarion call of Home Depot, it’s been a little chaotic. The bright spot is my tricked-out kitchen. That room is all organized and good to go. I was able to just about fit everything I needed in all the clever storage nooks. Both my kitchen windows have garden views, including one that looks over a hummingbird who regularly buzzes around the arbor devouring the honeysuckle nectar. It’s feels downright therapeutic to cook again. Nothing too elaborate has poured forth from the kitchen, but I did finally tackle a Spanish tortilla after watching one of Melissa Clark’s engaging videos on NYtimes.com. Fall is my favorite time to cook, although I am a bit wistful about missing a garden season, in particular, tomatoes! I am visualizing the raised beds that will inhabit the southwest corner of my lot. That will have to do for now.
So, I had a hard time deciding what to post! I went for a simple paté with fall flavors that you can use to perk up a cheese and cracker plate. Manchego or a sharp Cheddar is a good match. The paté keeps well. And, I didn’t plan this but there’s a nod to Oregon, with the mighty hazelnut.
Last year, I was cooking Quinoa and Feta Chowder.
Makes 15-20 discs
1 1/4 cup dried Black Mission figs, stemmed, halved and dried
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 T brandy
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp water
1/8-1/4 tsp black pepper
- To remove skins from hazelnuts, toast in oven. Too much skin left on the nuts makes your recipe a little bit bitter. Heat oven to 375°, and place hazelnuts on a cookie sheet and toast for 10-12 minutes. Keep an eye on them and when skins start to pull away, they are ready. Wrap in a dishtowel and rub the skins off. Set aside.
- Toast fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant and turning color. Grind them in a spice grinder. Set aside.
- Place hazelnuts, figs, brandy, vinegar and water in a food processor. Process until the mixture is paste-like. Add ground fennel and black pepper.
- Place the fig paste on a sheet of aluminum foil and shape it into a 6-inch log. Wrap it tightly in the foil, rolling it to form it into a cylinder shape. Open the foil up and place the log (still encased in foil) on a baking sheet. Bake at 200º until the surface of the log dries and hardens – 20-25 minutes. Let cool.
- Serve by slicing the log into discs. Store in refrigerator. This will keep for a while!
- I bet walnuts would be a fine replacement for the hazelnuts or a combination of the two.