See this stuff? The photo does not do it justice. It is one of my “signature” dishes, that I came up with all by myself – caramelized onion and fig goat cheese spread. And it is SO SO good. It was part of the catering craziness of Saturday night. It’s a great recipe for any gathering, always a crowd favourite. And it’s right in the middle of being decadent and a little more smart – fancy enough to be a bit of a treat, but not too rich that you can only enjoy it once a year. And because I like you guys, I’m gonna share the recipe with you, so you can make it and be adored by all who consume it (try it and just see if you’re not)! This recipe can easily be doubled for a crowd, which I did on Saturday night.
Goat Cheese Spread (this part of the recipe comes from The New Canadian Basics Cookbook, which my grandma got me a several years ago for Christmas. I’ve made a few recipes out of it, but don’t use it a lot. However, it’s worth it just for this recipe!)
½ cup/250 g ricotta cheese
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried oregano or mint
2 to 4 tbsp plain yogurt
In food processor, combine all ingredients except yogurt (if your cheese is nice and soft, this can easily just be mixed in a bowl). Blend until smooth. Blend in enough yogurt to give spreading or dipping consistency as desired (mixture will thicken slightly when chilled). Transfer to bowl, cover and chill for at least 2 hours to blend flavours. Makes about 1 cup.
I have no exact recipe for the topping, so instructions and ingredients are approximate.
Cooking onion, finely sliced
Dried figs, chopped
Olive oil and/or butter
Optional: honey, maple syrup or brown sugar
Preheat a stainless steel frying pan over medium-high heat (stainless works better than non-stick for the caramelization) with the oil/butter. Add the sliced onions, sauté for a few minutes until they just start to brown.
Reduce heat to medium low, and cook the onions, stirring often until caramelized (don’t worry if this is seeming to take a long time…I know it’s hard to wait, and you’re probably thinking “but I want this NOW! It looks so good…Hilary, WHY is this taking so long?!? But good things come to those who wait). Season with salt.
Add the figs and drizzle in some balsamic vinegar, simmer for about 15 minutes until figs are softened and flavours have blended (you may have to splash in a bit more balsamic as things simmer away). If you want to sweeten things up and mellow it out a bit, add just a touch of honey/syrup/sugar. Honestly, I have gone with sweetener and without. It depends on my mood. Both ways are good. Taste it, see what you think it needs, and go from there.
Spread the goat cheese mixture on a plate, top with the figs/onions. Serve with crackers, and be prepared to be adored!
Just look at those chopped figs and onions…destined for greatness! Note: when chopping the figs, make sure you slice off the hard stem bit. You may want to chop off a bit more than necessary, just so you can taste a bit of the fig (for quality control, you understand ). You can skip this step, but I’ve never made this recipe without doing it, so I don’t guarantee results. And that may look like a lot of onions, but they shrink down a lot, I promise!
Here’s a little secret. When I watch Rachael Ray cook, she tells me to chop garlic before you put it in the food processor so you don’t bite down on a large chunk of garlic. But I’m lazy. I don’t want to dirty another kitchen utensil. So I’ve perfected an easy lazy-girl’s method to getting around this. Before putting all the ingredients in the food processor, I put in the whole, peeled (which I peel by the “smash a large heavy object on the whole clove” method) garlic cloves and pulse it a bit. Look to the right: voila! Peeled, minced, garlic that’s good to go, no second utensil required! Put that in your pipe and smoke it, RR!
On the left, here’s the stuff before I blended it all up. On the right ; after! Since I hadn’t softened the cheeses enough, I had to help it along by a lot of spatula scraping. And one note: the ratio of goat cheese to ricotta is by no means an exact science. If you have a bit more or less of one or the other, go with it!
This is what you want the onions to look like before you add the figs and vinegar to the party. Your house smells pretty amazing right now (unless you hate the smell of onions cooking, in which case I’d probably avoid this recipe).
Figs are in, balsamic vinegar drizzling action shot – let’s get this party started!
We’re simmered and good to go! These guys are ready to go on some goat cheese spread (Note: if you’re feeling lazy, you could just make the topping and put it on a log of goat cheese, but the spread is so delicious, and it’s very creamy and spreadable, so if you have the time/inclination, you should really go for it)!
Close-up of the finished product!
So, maybe you’re saying to yourself “well, that’s all well and good Hilary. Looks like a tasty recipe, but I wanna know what else you made on Saturday night for the party!” (or maybe you couldn’t care less). It was a pretty amazing spread, if I do say so myself. Of course, I ate too much (the 20% of the 80/20 rule just isn’t big enough these days it seems). I think it was a hit! I won’t give you a full written run-down of what I made, but just let the pictures speak for themselves. If you want to know what anything in particular is, just ask! I will make one note though: the cupcakes are filled with a salted caramel filling (Martha Stewart recipe)…YUM!
Maybe now you understand why I was up so late on Friday night?!? This was SO MUCH FUN. But also, A LOT OF WORK!
Do you have any signature recipes? What are they?