ricotta and figs (or figs and ricotta?)

Is there a more perfect fruit than the fig? Their Biblical origins, that mysterious skin cloaking vibrant colored flesh, their sweet, yet green, taste. In a world where we can get virtually anything on demand, I love that figs still have a season, and a fleeting one at that. They appear silently on my grocery store shelves sometime in September, and then disappear a few weeks later.

During those fleeting fall days, I eat as many as I can get my hands on, often doing nothing more than pinching the stems off between my fingers before devouring them in two or three bites. I’m rarely tempted to do anything fancier; they’re too good on their own.

Recently though, I found myself with almost a half-gallon of milk that was about to expire. Not wanting to waste it, I decided to make ricotta. One of my favorite desserts is a recipe for “Grilled stone fruits with sweetened ricotta” that I cut out of a newspaper years ago. While I don’t often grill stone fruits, I adore making sweetened ricotta, either to pair with fruit compote or to eat on it’s own, like a warm dish of ice cream. If the idea of sweetened cheese sounds revolting to you, think of cheesecake or cannoli. Not gross at all, is it?

Homemade ricotta is about a thousand times better than the store-bought stuff, and ridiculously easy to make (See my guide to five-minute ricotta, here). That said if you simply don’t want to play little Miss Muffett and separate curds and whey, you can of course use store-bought. I won’t tell.

After making the sweetened ricotta, it was just a matter of making a fig and ricotta parfait, with a bit of honey drizzled for good measure. If this doesn’t make you happy, nothing will.

Ricotta and figs

2 cups fresh ricotta cheese (homemade or otherwise)
2-4 Tablespoons milk or cream (use more if your ricotta is dry. You want a smooth consistency.)
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 pint figs, quartered
2-3 Tablespoons honey (whatever you love/have)

In a medium-sized bowl combine ricotta and 2 Tablespoons milk. If consistency is still dry add more milk. Stir until smooth and then add sugar and vanilla. Portion into four glasses or bowls and then top with figs. Drizzle with honey and serve.

changing seasons

It never ceases to amaze me how the air changes like clockwork the first week of each September. Like someone flicked a switch and suddenly it’s autumn.

With the change in seasons, hopefully I’ll be blogging a bit more. It’s always too hard for me to stay inside at a computer when it’s so beautiful out. But with a change in seasons comes a change in habit as well. In the meantime, here’s what’s been keeping me away from the computer:

Buying a house. Ok, it’s a condo. But it’s mine. In addition to the logistics of packing and moving, owning a home is simply a lot of work. I had to find an electrician to fix my foyer light, have the dishwasher adjusted and repair a leaky pipe. I also painted the guest bedroom and the dining room.

Up next: the foyer and my bedroom. Eventually, I’d like to repaint the bathroom and install a new vanity too. All this home improvement means cooking is taking something of a backseat. I’ve largely subsisted on toasted cheese sandwiches this summer. Sad.

Fishing. I had a great season, catching cod, shark and even a bluefin tuna. The tuna was really the catch of a lifetime, just a beautiful fish. It was also likely the freshest sashimi I’ll ever eat. (To read more on my approach to shark fishing, go here.)

My freezer is now full of cod, shark and tuna. I don’t think I’ll be buying meat for a while. Plan on some fish recipes this fall!

Working. Though I love cooking and blogging, I have a pretty great day job that keeps me busy. When things get crazy the work I get paid for takes priority.

Running. I signed up for a half marathon next week, and I’ve spent the last couple months trying to get ready for it. More time running means less time cooking.

That said, with the house under control and the boating season winding down, I’m planning to spend more time in the kitchen.

Here’s a few recipes I’ve got my eye on this season.

Pumpkin Soup with Red Pepper Mousse: 2000s Recipes + Menus : gourmet.com

Purée peppers, oil, vinegar, paprika, and salt in a blender or food processor until very smooth. Sprinkle gelatin over water in a 1-quart heavy saucepan and let stand 2 minutes to soften. Heat mixture over low heat, stirring, just until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in pepper purée 1 tablespoon at a time.
Recipe – Roasted Cauliflower With Lemon Brown Butter and Sage Salt – NYTimes.com

Evan Sung for The New York Times 1/4 cup sage leaves, loosely packed 1 tablespoon coarse salt, more for tossing 3 heads cauliflower, cut into florets 1. Heat oil in a small pan until rippling. Add sage and cook, stirring, just until crisped, about 2 minutes.
Butternut Squash and Parmesan Bread Pudding

A side of sautéed kale or mustard greens would provide a nice counterpoint to the sweet butternut squash. Marie Simmons, Cooking Light OCTOBER 2004 Only you will be able to view, print, and edit this note. Get our Free Weekly Specials Newsletter filled with our favorite recipes, seasonal menus, and special features.
Recipe: Ginger Ice Cream Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches | Apartment Therapy The Kitchn

I was getting all excited for fall, and then, BAM! Someone cranked the heat back up. So I turned wistfully from butternut squash back to, well, ice cream. Here’s one more ice cream treat for the end of summer – but its flavors will transition you right into fall.
What’s on your menu for fall?