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Friday, November 04, 2005

This is a Test

Recently my dad celebrated a birthday. And in true Filipino fashion, we had a big party. We had the grill going, the deep fryer frying, and all six ranges of the stove plus oven running.

As I get older, the more I feel obliged to help with the cooking. It’s not that I really care, because I end up learning how to make food I like to eat. As I posted before, I made leche flan and ube, traditional deserts. I also made cupcakes, quite a few… and only later did I discover that I didn’t need to make any since my aunt brought over a HUGE birthday cake.

The food at the party for the most part was Filipino in nature. There was the obligatory pancit, lumpia, adobo, dinuguan, goto; I can go on and on. Not everyone in the family likes the food (mainly some of my little cousins) so there was some baked ziti, and my experimental dish.

I shouldn’t call it experimental, since I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere and I just wanted to emulate it. Before heading back, I bought figs, cheeses to nibble on, and two types of polenta - pre-made and the dry cornmeal to make by hand. Since I was up late the night before I wanted my food to be a fast cook.

Polenta and Roasted Fig Salad

1 pint fresh figs
1 roll ready made polenta
1 package baby spinach
Olive Oil
Lemony Balsamic Vinaigrette recipe below
  1. Wash and dry figs. Slash the tops in a cross shape, going about half-way down. Place in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes.
  2. Slice the polenta about an inch thick and set aside.
  3. Heat up a frying pan with just enough oil to coat the pan. You may need to add more later, so keep it on hand.
  4. Fry up the polenta cakes, until both sides are nice and brown. Place on paper towels or a cloth to soak up excess oil.
  5. Wash baby spinach and pat dry. Place on a big dish. Arrange fried polenta on top of greens, and a fig on top of the polenta. Drizzle vinaigrette. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and fresh coarsely ground black pepper.
Lemony Balsamic Vinaigrette
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 lemon (zest first!)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
1 cup olive oil

In a food processor, put in the garlic and pulse twice. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, balsamic, salt and pepper and pulse two more times to get it fully incorporated. I remember hearing somewhere that the lemon will help emulsify the oil and the vinegar, since they normally don’t like to mix.

Turn the machine on and SLOWLY pour the olive oil through the feed tube. One continuous pour, to get things well blended. Pour over salad, or store in a container and place in the fridge.

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