Baked figs, ravioli and prosecco braised pork belly
As much as I hate to admit this, not long ago I tried to impress someone by cooking a dinner. It all went wrong and it was like I was hit with a temporary blockage of tastebuds and a complete inability to cook things that never failed before. It was so bad I brought out lots and lots of alcohol and we finnished the evening polishing off a whole bottle of gin, finally having a good time.
I was so upset by my faliure I didn’t cook anything more complicated than a grilled sandwich for over a week before snapping out of it. I thought the best I could do was to cook for someone else. Friends got invited and this time I decided to cook my kind of food rather than what I thought would impress them, like I should have done last time.
I love seasonal produce and the fig trees are full of ripe, juicy figs and I couldn’t resist getting some as an amuse bouche.
Goats cheese bakes figs
preparation time 5 minutes
cooking time 15 minutes
oven 200C or 390F
- 4 ripe figs
- 100 gr or 3.5 oz goats cheese
- runny honey
- fresh cracked black pepper
- chilli balsamic glaze
Cut the fig open.
Crack black pepper inside and add a wedge of cheese. Drizzle with a little honey and bake until the cheese is melted and starts to caramelise.
Add more black pepper, another drizzle of honey and chilli balsamic glaze before serving.
One thing I knew I had to do was to make my own pasta. I looked up a recipe from Gennaro Contaldo, you can see it here on YouTube. It worked well but I added at least 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup water and as I did it by hand it took me quite some time to bring the dough together but it was my first made from scratch pasta. I made the pasta dough the day before and rested it over night before rolling it.
I decided to make ricotta and cavolo nero ravioli with crispy sage, you can find the recipe here.
I picked sage from the garden. Sage is a strong herb but cooked crispy in butter the flavour mellows and it is just delicious.
When the ravioli was almost cooked I melted butter in olive oil in a pan with the sage.
I added the ravioli and cooked it just slightly crispy on one side and kept it soft on the other and served.
It tasted just as nice as last time and the slightly crisp pasta added a nice texture.
For main course I got some lovely pork belly from the Black Pig Butchers. I decided to truly slow cook it and here is the recipe for slow prosecco braised pork belly. This might be one of my absolute favourite dishes to cook. It takes time and it needs to rest over night but I promise you it is worth it. The addition of ginger, garlic and hot sauce in the last stage adds a nice flavour edge.
I served the pork belly with a bulgur wheat salad.
Bulgur wheat salad
preparation time 5 minutes
cooking time 5 minutes + 15 minutes resting time
- 4 dl or 2 cups cracked bulgur wheat
- 8 dl or 4 cups of chicken stock (or any stock)
- a good handful of cherry tomatoes
- about 1/2 cucumber
- 1 unwaxed lemon, cut in half and boiled for 30 minutes
- 3 spring onions/scallions
- about 1 tbsp good olive oil
- about 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- a pinch of sea salt
Cook the bulgur wheat. Let it boil for five minutes and then turn the heat off, leave the lid on and let stand for 15 minutes or until the stock is absorbed and the wheat is fluffy.
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half, cube the cucumber and slice the spring onions. Cut everything but the peel away from the lemon and slice it fine.
Mix everything and add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and last a pinch of sea salt.
I wanted the salad to be light as the pork belly is quite a rich dish and it worked well with the lemon running through it.
I didn’t make a dessert but got some cheese and fruit out together with the first batch of sloe gin with sloes from last year.
I am so happy to say that my cooking spirits are back, along with a new found love for pasta, I might even start baking whilst at it, who knows?!