I’ve had a number of emails asking for this recipe, since I mentioned it as one of my five foods to try before you die. So if even one person feels they've lived a more complete life because they ate this appetizer, my work is done.
This is a recipe from Entertaining, by Donna Hay…via my friends Lauren and Mark who live in Vancouver and who have fed me so well over the years – they are my favourite kind of home gourmets: they’re adventurous, the ingredients matter, and they make it all look so easy and effortless.
I helped them make these one night for a party. I didn’t think they’d make it from the oven all the way to the platter – not with me in between.
24 thinly sliced sourdough baguette
3 cloves garlic, halved
8 oz (250 g) blue cheese
1/3 cup (135 g or 4 ½ oz) mascarpone
1 tbsp roughly chopped Italian parsley
cracked black pepper
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
6 figs (quartered) - I have also used pears when figs were in hibernation (and I think I'd like to winter there - sounds like a warmnation)
To make the bruschetta: Brush slices of bread with olive oil. Place
under a hot grill and cook until bread is golden on both sides. When
done, rub with garlic halves.
To make the filling: combine blue cheese (I used stilton), mascarpone, parsley and pepper to taste. Set aside.
To prepare the figs: Heat butter, balsamic vinegar and sugar in a frying pan over high heat. Stir and allow to simmer until the mixture has thickened slightly. Place the fig quarters in the pan a few at a time, cook for 30 seconds on each side, or until they are lightly coated. Set aside.
Spread a small amount of the blue cheese mixture on each slice of bread and top with a fig quarter. Place them under a warm, low grill until cheese starts melting.
Serve….makes 24 minus whatever slips into your mouth on the way to your guests.
Addendum: I just got word from my friend Lauren that they couldn't find fresh figs once...so they reconstituted dried figs. She wrote, "one thing I do remember is that we reconstituted them with port! Very important point. Can’t remember how long really … probably a good few hours 'til they looked all plumped up with the blood of the gods." Always good to have options that have the blood of deities.
I just read figs were probably our first crop - 11,200 years ago. Researchers found some carbonised figs at a dig in Israel earlier this year - indicating that humans grew figs before they grew wheat or barley or legumes. From the look of these carbonised figs though, I'd stick with fresh.
fig leaf picture is public domain