Monday, January 16, 2006


Fig Colla Italiano

It is a rare thing to see a recipe for something you just plain have never heard of. I mean, isn't that the appeal of restaurants like El Bulli and Moto? That the chefs there are actually creating all new takes on food using science and technology?

Well, I've been to Moto, and while I was impressed and the food really was outstanding, there was hardly anything inspiring there, since the odds of me using food grade ink in my printer to create sheets of edible pages are slim to none. (Though perhaps that is the wave of the future in home kitchens. HP are you listening? This could be a diet revolution! "Print out a slice of calorie free pizza and eat all you want!")

Me, I just want to be enticed to make some delicious food. I want to instantly crave it and be able to make my cravings a reality. Joyfully, that is precisely what happened while I was peeking in the Italian bar-food book Enoteca, by one of the Bay Area's great chefs, Joyce Goldstein. In that tome, she had a picture of what she called Fig Salami and I was entranced. (Not entranced enough to drop $35 on the book mind you, but still.) I was indeed inspired.

So using my noggin' I concocted my own version and thought it might be nice to share. It takes about 15 minutes to pull together, but requires a week or two of drying time, so be forewarned.

The results were supremely unique and deliciously satisfying. After two weeks on my countertop the resulting colla, or "collage" (I opted for that as the most descriptive word, since "log" and "paste" just don't seem so divine) when sliced, was quite dense and while quite dried still slightly sticky, crunchy (from the fig seeds), richly sweet, multi-layered (from the balsamic and port,) nutty and ultimately complex with the lovely punctuation of piney rosemary. It is indeed a lot like a grown-up fig newton without the cake (or gluten, I should add) A perfectly erudite addition to your cheese plate, especially with a creamy fresh goat cheese. Try this, and enjoy.

2 cups dried figs, stems removed, rough chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons ruby port wine
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
1/2 cup walnuts

Preheat your oven to 350F.

On a baking sheet, spread the walnuts out in a single layer. Toast in the oven until just fragrant, about 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, and take off the baking sheet immediately (if they stay on the sheet, they will continue to brown.)

While the walnuts are toasting, in a medium saucepan, combine the balsamic and port. Reduce, over a medium-low flame until somewhat syrupy, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In a mixer (Cuisinart) combine the figs, rosemary, half of the nuts and port-vinegar syrup. Pulse until it is chopped up and comes together into a ball.

Remove from the mixer and form into a thick roll. Loosely wrap in parchment or wax paper and leave on your counter until it is quite dried, about two weeks.

When it is dried, slice and serve. Will keep on the counter for an additional month.


When Cato advocated the conquest of Carthage, he used as his crowning argument the advantage of acquiring fruits as glorious as the North African figs, specimens of which he pulled from his toga as exhibits in the Roman Senate. -In Mamas

Today in the United States, we are celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Labels: , ,

Sounds quite wonderful.
but what happened to the cheese and pickle :(
What a great idea. Dry it a little more, and it could be part of a pizza with goat cheese and onions or olives. You have created something wonderful, definitely a fresh approach.
Sounds like heaven!
I own that cookbook. If you want any of the recipes, let me know. I'll be glad to copy and fax.

I have to say I haven't cooked from it, just read it in bed as food porn!

I'm going to try it tonight.

Incidentally, the etymology of the word "sycophant" comes from the ancient Greek meaning "Fig Shower." That's shower as in one who shows. Apparently there used to be a ban on taking figs out of the city, and those who wanted to cozy up to the authorities would show them the people trying to smuggle figs out the gates.
Sounds yummy!
Rachael - did you elope with Mr Branston?
I am missing you and hoping everything is ok with you.
I'm thinking of you.
PS "mhoobug" is the best word verification ever, no?
Dearest, I'm with Sam. Where did you go? This lovely fig photo can only hold me for so long!
It sounds wonderful and I have offered this to my workplace charity auction. One query - you mention to add "half the nuts"...what do you do with the other half apart from eating them on the spot...yum
Lisa, good eye! thanks for noticing that. The remaining whole nuts get mixed in with the chopped up mix.
Hi Rachael - this is wonderful! I've had "fig sausage" in Italy, and really enjoyed it, but have thus far not found a recipe. Until now then. Not sure if it's the same (yours sounds less sweeet and sugary), but nevertheless in the right direction.
Post a Comment

<< Home
Post a Comment

<< Home
... Chefs Blogs

... Click for Beverly Hills, California Forecast

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

All of the original words and pictures on this site are copyrighted property. (So there. Nyah.) With that in mind, please ask permission first and give due credit, if you plan on reproducing any part of it. Thanks so much!

2003-2008 COPYRIGHT (C) Fresh Approach Cooking