Sunday, September 14, 2014

Okra-Phobic? Turn Up The Heat.

Poor okra.  The mere utterance of the word elicits immediate groans, turned-up noses, and one particular adjective: Slimy.  Even those deceptively tempting deep-fried bits are disappointing—oily golden batter goodness on the outside, slimy little okra nugget on the inside.  This sensory image makes all the okra-phobes cringe, right?  It’s not on the Oxford Dictionaries “official” list of phobias, but it’s clearly a problem for many of us.  If you can’t resist perusing a list, here’s the link. You might discover you have some other fun phobias, too, like a fear of itching (acarophobia) or fear of work (ergophobia). Happy reading!  a-list-of-phobias-from-atelophobia-to-zelotypophobia/  

Mother Nature is always smarter than we are (of course) and she designed a purpose for these hairy little pods.  The substance that makes them slimy inside is the same thing we love about the aloe vera plant we reach for when we burn a finger or stay in the sun too long.  This magic goop they share is made of sugar residues called exopolysacharrides and proteins called glycoproteins.  It’s best when used as a natural thickening agent for soups, gumbo, etc.  What’s the non-scientific name of this substance?  Mucilage.  Remember that amber-colored glue you had when you were in first grade? That’s the stuff. It’s no wonder more kids preferred to ingest plain old white school paste over mucilage.  I don’t recall seeing any of my classmates enjoying a swig of adhesive from those small glass bottles we all had in our desks.  I am proud to say I never ingested any paste, mucilage, or play-doh. I was the nerd who liked broccoli. 

Okra deserves our respect, nonetheless, for its high fiber content and its complete lack of fat and cholesterol.  Some people claim it helps lower blood sugar, too.  I found a few surprising applications for mucilage while reading about these “lady’s fingers” as they are known in other parts of the world. Researchers in Canada are experimenting with okra slime as an ice cream ingredient to replace the guar gum usually added to maintain a creamy texture.  Are you wondering what’s happened to all the guar gum?  Fracking.  Apparently the Big Energy companies have bought up all the guar gum to keep their equipment running smoothly.  While I don’t like the idea of okra goop in my ice cream, I’m even less charmed by the effects of fracking and (subsequent) earthquakes and climate change.  Here's the link to the CBC article: Okra Slime Tested to Keep Ice Cream Creamy  

One helpful lady has decided that okra goop makes a dandy hair conditioner. She recommends using mucilage as a chemical-free alternative to hair gel. It's nice of her to advise that we can "mask that unmistakable okra scent" by adding essential oil of lavender or mint. Are you laughing? She's not kidding. 

Now that you know far more about okra than you thought was possible (at least I do), let’s get back to the food.  Michel does NOT back away from a challenge. Whether it’s wrestling with a beastly violin passage or a clogged drain pipe, he is relentless.  Okra’s slimy, mealy texture is no match for him.  His solution?  Heat.  Oven roasting and hot peppers.  This new recipe incorporates some very hot peppers which “cut right through to the basic essence of a tasty gumbo.”   Michel says you can use a normal sweet pepper, but the hotter, the better for dealing with the okra problem.  For this dish he says one jalapeno or one habanero is “really groovy” but a combination of the two is “even groovier.”  He used red chilies, jalapeno, and habanero.  HOT, HOT, and HOT.

And a brief word from Michel about buying fresh okra:  “Don’t buy big pods.  Choose the ones that are no bigger than your ring finger. Make sure they’re nice and firm and unblemished.”  Michel says he learned his lesson about buying large okra.  It was too “fiber-y.” Ready to cook? Here you go!

Roasted Okra with Peppers

You will need:
·        Fresh okra, about 2 cups
·        ½ an onion, thinly sliced
·        4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        2 small red hot chili peppers (not the rock band), finely chopped
·        1 habanero pepper, finely chopped
·        1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
·        Olive oil
·        Fresh basil, oregano, or mint, chopped—whatever herb “you have handy” will work

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

Cover a baking sheet with foil unless you just really enjoy the dishwashing experience. 

Remove tops from okra pods, then slice in half lengthwise.

Place okra, onion, peppers, garlic in a bowl and top with “a healthy drizzle” of olive oil.

Mix ingredients while sprinkling with salt to make sure everything is nicely coated with olive oil.

Spread mixture on baking sheet and place in preheated oven.

Roast for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. 

Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with fresh herb of your choice.  Eat!

Another note from Michel about roasting time: “Watch to see that the pods dry out enough and the onion browns a little.”  If you think your pods aren’t slime-less enough after 15 minutes, let them roast a little longer.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Easy Kale Gazpacho and "The Princess Bride" Fig Tree

Summer Soup and Salad

Labor Day weekend used to mark the end of summer and the start of the school year, but that’s no longer the case in many places these days.  With school districts opening in early August, the holiday weekend provides little more than a welcome day off.  For some, it means the end of swim season as pools shut down—but—some parks and swim clubs allow for a “dog day” after the humans leave.  The pooches get one glorious day in the pool before it is drained, cleaned, etc.  Our four Cavaliers would never go for such a thing. They don’t even like the little wading pool we bought them.  Too bad.  

Summer has been relatively polite this year, given the recent record-setting heat waves and drought conditions we’ve endured.  Remember that sad little fig tree I showed you in a previous post?  Turns out it wasn’t dead after all.  Just like the hero Westley in the “The Princess Bride,” it had been only “mostly dead” until midsummer.  Good news, but probably no fruit for at least a year or two.  

Michel is not much of a movie fan, but he did like the late Peter Falk who narrated the immensely popular “Princess Bride” film.  Some people think Michel looks a little like Peter Falk, others think he looks like Al Franken.
Sometimes I think Michel looks like Placido Domingo, while his youngest grandson called out “It’s Grandpa!” when he spotted Itzhak Perlman on television performing at the 2009 Presidential Inauguration.
via Susan Walsh  inauguration_music_1245705c

Here's the "mostly dead" video snippet in case you're one of the millions of people who can't get enough of this beloved 1987 movie. This opening image is of course Andre the Giant--who can't possibly be confused with anyone else.  

So if you’re feeling mostly dead after a summer’s day and cooking is the LAST thing you want to do, here is Michel's quick and easy recipe for a delicious and refreshing summer soup. It's also chock-full of nutritious goodness. Vegans, skip the cheese and add your favorite garnish. 

Kale Cucumber Avocado Gazpacho

You will need:

  • 2 cups cold water
  • 3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1½   teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks
  • ½ bunch kale, removed from stems and cut into medium-sized pieces
  • 1 avocado, peeled and cut into medium-sized chunks/[p
  • Shredded pecorino cheese for topping (optional)
In a blender:
·       Add water and coarsely chopped garlic.
·       Liquefy until garlic is completely dissolved.
·       Add kale and liquefy.
·       Add cucumber chunks, avocado, salt and pepper
·       Liquefy, adding a little water if needed. There should be no chunks or lumps.
·       Taste for seasoning, adding more salt/pepper if needed.

Pour into serving bowls and top with cheese.  Yum!

You might enjoy serving this with a fruit-arugula salad like the one I made (yes, I made it) with seasonal items (figs, peaches, strawberries, blueberries) and feta cheese.  Top with a drizzle of agave and fig balsamic vinegar. The nasturtiums were a gift from a gardening friend.  Their peppery taste goes nicely with the baby arugula.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chickpeas and Christmas Chocolates (in July)

Roasted Chickpeas with Chocolate and Almonds

People always seem to be in a good mood whenever chocolate is involved.  All the recent scientific evidence about antioxidants, flavonoids, and other health benefits of chocolate makes a compelling case for indulgence now and then, but do you know anyone who really needs convincing? What are your fondest or most vivid memories about chocolate?  Maybe it’s baking cookies and eating Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips straight from the yellow cellophane bag when your mother wasn’t looking—not that I ever did that.  You didn’t either, right?  Or opening a can of Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup and drizzling it into a glass of milk in such a way that a lickable amount of syrup stayed on your spoon.  Or making chocolate fudge and cleaning the warm, buttery, fudgy goodness out of the pan with a spatula that also required a good licking.  

I’m sure you have plenty of happy chocolate anecdotes to share.  Or maybe you have a chocolate trauma or grievance you’d like to get off your chest.  Please feel free to leave a comment or two about your relationship with chocolate.  Maybe we can (or should) start a support group for People Who Are Way Too Fond of Chocolate.   

Michel loves chocolate, too.  He exercises his considerable Taurean willpower about almost everything but, when it comes to chocolate consumption, all bets are off.  He’s very careful not to overdo it.  One of the chocolates he recalls from his childhood in Holland was a powdered cocoa in a can, similar to the Nestle Quik stuff we have here in the U.S.  The Dutch brand is Droste (Droste B.V.).  As a boy, Michel was transfixed by the image on the tin: a stern-looking nurse holding a tray which held a can of Droste and a mug, both with the same image of the nurse.  It was like looking into infinity for him.  He couldn’t get enough. 

Another chocolate Michel was fond of as a boy was the traditional Dutch holiday treat, chocoladeletters—chocolate letters in the shape of the child’s first initial.  These were given on the occasion of Sinterklaas, the feast of Saint Nicholas celebrated on December 5th in the Netherlands.  Michel’s initial M meant that he had about twice as much chocolate to enjoy as his older brother Lancelot who was stuck with only a letter L.  Score one for the little brother. 

One of Michel’s more recent chocolate delights occurred during a business trip to Lausanne a few years ago.  While waiting to meet a client, he was strolling the streets of the beautiful Swiss city when he came upon Blondel Chocolatier on the Rue de Bourg, clearly a venerable institution.  In the window he saw enormous trays of large pieces of various chocolates and he couldn't resist.  He went into the shop and chose several pieces which he took back to his hotel and consumed with great pleasure. 

Image from Chocolats Blondel photo gallery

Are you salivating yet?  All this talk of chocolates and holidays is dandy, but it doesn't diminish my annoyance with the current spate of television ads for “Christmas in July” sales that have nothing discernible to do with Christmas.  I understand that there are countries in the Southern Hemisphere where the holiday is celebrated in July because that’s when the winter weather happens.  It’s more festive, I guess.  But here in North America I think it’s a tiresome marketing ploy to shore up retail sales between Fourth of July barbecue bargains and the inevitable Back-to-School blitz.  I’ll deal with Christmas when the time comes.  In December.  Probably at the last minute, as usual.  

Image from Australia, via Wikipedia

On to the food.  Michel decided to spice up some chickpeas with chocolate and peppers—a combination that works very well.  Hope you enjoy this new vegan recipe!  

Roasted Chickpeas with Chocolate and Almonds

·        1½ cups chickpeas, soaked overnight and rinsed
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        ½ teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
·        1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
·        3 pieces star anise
·        1 tablespoon cumin
·        3 cloves
·        3 cardamom seeds
·        ¼ cup cocoa powder
·        ½ cup grated almonds
·        1 cup almond milk

You will need a soup pot or saucepan and a baking dish.

·        Place chickpeas in water in a large pot with 2-3 inches covering.
·        Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, then cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours until chickpeas are really soft.
·        Drain all the liquid away.
·        Transfer chickpeas to 9 x 13 baking dish.
·        Remove the cloves, star anise, and cardamom pieces.
·        Sprinkle chickpeas with cocoa powder and grated almonds.
·        Mix to coat then bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees.
·        Set oven to broiler temperature.
·        Pour almond milk over chickpeas.
·        Place baking dish under broiler for about 10 minutes until almond milk has almost evaporated and a slight crust forms.

·        Serve over quinoa mixed with chopped basil and baby kale (liberally sprinkled with vinegar and olive oil). 

Or, skip the almond milk part and eat the roasted chocolate-almond chickpeas as a crunchy, healthful snack. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Not Your Grandmother’s Green Beans: Dal with Long Beans, Green Garlic, and Fenugreek (vegan)

If you’re a regular reader of The Expat Epicure (thank you!), then you’re familiar with Michel’s adventures in exotic food stores.  He recently went to Patel Brothers on a quest for fenugreek leaves which are widely used for many culinary and medicinal purposes, especially ayurvedic applications.   My utterly non-scientific Google search for fenugreek led me to wildly divergent homeopathic treatments for everything from thinning hair to weight loss to lactation problems.  As for culinary uses, fenugreek seeds and leaves are quite commonly found in Indian cooking—curries, dal, etc.—even salads.   Some cooks use the leaves like those pretentious “microgreens” I fail to understand.  
Fenugreek Leaves--photo from BBC Good Food website
Michel conducted his on-site interviews at Patel’s just the way he always does, asking other customers how they use various greens and odd-looking vegetables.  His interview subjects are always friendly, sometimes offering entire recipes on the spot.  After all his questions had been asked (at least for the moment) and answers weighed, the fenugreek leaves were acquired along with some long beans which were sort of an impulse buy, not unlike those memorable fresh garbanzo beans that turned out to be such a pain to peel.   
long beans
Michel has always asked lots of questions.  About everything.  In food stores, the most common question is “What is that?!”  Like I would know.  He admits this trait must have driven his parents and teachers crazy when he was a child.  Some people still find it unsettling, while others find it amusing and even fun.   For me, it depends on the topic at hand. I have resigned myself to the fact that I can never answer all of Michel’s questions, even though I’d like to be able to.   To that end, I have devised a short series of hand signals that indicate to what degree I don’t know the answer to a given question.  This little set of gestures saves time and minimizes frustration. It’s like a sign language consisting of only three phrases and it has served us (me) well so far. 

Back to the beans.  Michel bought the long beans because “you don’t always see them.”  They are used a lot in Chinese cooking and they’re quite different from traditional “green beans” or string beans in texture and taste.  Those childhood neighbors of mine who would show up at the door with “a mess of greens” from their summer garden would also bring enormous amounts of green beans.  It was my job to snap the beans into bite-sized pieces and peel away those annoying strings from the edges.   Most of the cooks I was around as a child would either cook the beans to death with a hunk of ham bone for seasoning, or can them in very large Mason jars for winter meals.  Bless their hearts.  They meant well.   Long beans are less belligerent than Western string beans, I think.  They require less cooking time and have a slightly sweet taste.   

Here is Michel’s new recipe.  Hope you like it! 

Dal with Long Beans, Green Garlic, and Fenugreek

You will need: a large skillet, a soup pot, and something for steaming the beans.

Here’s a list of ingredients (à la Trader Joe’s soft-sell junk mail shopping list):

Fresh ingredients
Other ingredients and spices 
1 bunch long beans
1 ½ cups lentils
6 slices fresh ginger
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
½ an onion
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
4 Thai chili peppers
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
5 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
3-4 stems green garlic
1 teaspoon pickled mango ginger               (or pickled mango leaves)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

dried fenugreek leaves

First, the long beans:
·        Cut into 2-3 inch pieces.
·        Steam for about five minutes.
·        Set aside for later. 
steamed long beans
In the soup pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil then add:
·        5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
·        3 slices ginger, chopped
·        4 green cayenne peppers, chopped
Thai chili peppers

Sweat the ginger, garlic, and peppers.

·        1 tablespoon turmeric powder

Stir, then add:
·        1½ cups lentils
·        4-5 cups water
·        1 teaspoon pickled mango ginger and 1 teaspoon salt

pickled mango ginger

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes until lentils are done. Stir occasionally, using your kavvam if you have one.  (I wrote about the kavvam adventure in a previous post.)

In the large skillet, heat one tablespoon olive oil then add:
·        3 slices ginger, chopped
·        ½ an onion, chopped
·        3-4 pieces of green garlic, chopped
green garlic

Sweat the garlic, onion, and ginger. Move everything away from the center of the pan, then add:
·        1 tablespoon mustard seeds
·        1 tablespoon cumin

Let seeds and cumin “start to explode a little and that’s what you want.”
After the seeds and cumin have exploded and the herbs and onion have had a good sweat, add steamed long beans. Gently mix to coat beans with spices.

Add bean mixture to lentils and top with crushed dried fenugreek leaves. 

And there you have it: Dal with Long Beans and Fenugreek. 

Serve over quinoa, cauliflower “couscous,” or any grain of choice. Delicious with freshly pickled cucumber slices on the side.

Bon appetit! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Oh, Snap! Fire Roasted Vegetables or, "Man of La Plancha"

Summer is grilling season for lots of people.  These are the times that tempt some vegetarians (who shall remain nameless) to fall off the wagon.  Stores are filled with colorful paraphernalia ranging from aprons to patio umbrellas to tiki torches.  Neighbors cook hot dogs and steaks outdoors and our four little dogs come inside smelling from charcoal and irritated by the voices of cornhole competitors.  Meanwhile, Food Network television programming is overrun with shows about meat, fire, and various cooking methods for the best carnivorous results.  Michel’s vegetarian cooking is inventive and satisfying, aside from its obvious health and environmental benefits but—once in a while he gets a notion that he’d like to have something meaty.  This is what happened recently when we watched one of those “meat and fire” food shows.  The guys on the program were outdoors cooking a whole animal “a la plancha,” translated, grilled on a metal plate.  

It was this Argentine cowboy-style cooking method that gave Michel the idea to make grilled vegetables with smoked sausage.  We rationalized our decision to eat meat and weighed the consequences in a Mark Bittman “flexitarian” way, noting that we hardly ever break our diet.  So the shopping list was made and everything was fine until we read a New York Times article titled “Virus Plagues the Pork Industry, and Environmentalists.”  Nope.  The end.  No sausage for us. 

Michel, still determined to cook something over a fire, decided to make vegetables a la plancha.  On the menu: sugar snap peas, leeks, asparagus, and carrots.  Our little grill is nothing special. It’s a floor sample we bought at Home Depot a few years ago after our eBay hibachi fell apart. We don’t have a fancy Williams-Sonoma plancha, just an old baking sheet thing that my grandmother used to cook with.  As for my unforgiveable pun, if someone ever makes a “Man of La Plancha” musical, I think Al Franken would have to play Michel’s part—not that the world needs another forgettable musical, or another terrible wordplay.  Imagine two hours of singing and dancing about a man and his grill. No thanks. But Michel and Al Franken do look alike.  Check it out next time you're Googling around. 

Fire Roasted Vegetables with Garlic, Basil, and Rosemary

You will need: (for two servings)

·        1 cup sugar snap peas
·        1 leek, cut into ¼ “ slices
·        12 asparagus spears
·        6 carrots
·        2-3 tablespoons olive oil
·        4 cloves garlic, chopped
·        1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
·        1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
·        1 teaspoon salt

·        Black pepper to taste

Place baking sheet on hot grill. 
Pour a little olive oil on the pan and let it get hot—but not too hot.
Place vegetables on hot pan all at once.

Add garlic, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper.

Drizzle olive oil over everything. (Yes, Michel orders California olive oil by the gallon.)

Turn vegetables “once in a while” using tongs to make sure everything gets cooked.

Veggies should be done in about ten minutes.

Serve over Michel's quinoa salad (quinoa with chopped baby kale, basil, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar--the organic one with the mother).

The dish can also be made in a skillet indoors if it's raining or you're not in a grilling mood. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Who doesn’t like fresh figs? Well, maybe Cleopatra…*

One of my teacher colleagues has a fig tree that produces copious amounts of fruit each year.  Of course, this attracts lots of birds and animals that often get to the figs before the humans do.   So my friend goes out early in the morning before school to harvest figs each day they are in season, filling whatever containers she has at hand—baskets, bowls, colanders, paper bags—you name it.  We, her lucky colleagues, get to feast on the fresh figs she brings to school to give away.  Nice lady, right?  

My students are always curious about the foods I have with me at school and the figs proved to be no exception.  I was surprised (and saddened) to realize how many of my high school students had never laid eyes on a fresh fig.  Their comments about the alien, purple-skinned “things” on my desk ranged from an enthusiastic “What’s that?!” to an eye-rolling “Eewww.”  Of course, these responses shouldn’t be surprising considering far too many young people eat processed, packaged, and frozen “food” instead of fresh items.  I happily offered to share my stash of figs with the kids who were intrepid enough to try one.  Once they had tasted a real fig, my students were forced to reconsider their opinions about Nabisco Fig Newtons cookies—the only other fig food known to most of them.  

Need more evidence regarding fresh versus packaged?  One medium fresh fig contains 37 calories, 8 grams of natural sugar, and zero fat according to the Nutrition Data website we like to use:
One serving of Fig Newtons (two cookies) will set you back 110 calories, 12 grams of sugar, plus 2 grams of fat.  But wait—there’s more.  Yes, Fig Newtons are a better snack choice than, say, a fudge brownie because the “fig paste” filling itself isn’t so bad—but—the outer cookie part is where the empty carbs and sugars are lurking, just waiting to attach themselves to your thighs.  Read more here:

If you’ve never explored the Nutrition Data website, you might find it interesting.  The information on the site comes from USDA's National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference and is supplemented by listings provided by restaurants and food manufacturers. It sounds boring but it's quite the opposite.  Colorful and well organized information is easy to find and easy to understand.  You can search data for fresh foods as well as brand name items—anything from raw figs to Krispy Kreme doughnuts.  Caveat: If you love Krispy Kremes, don't read it.  The data will break your heart. 

Sadly, our own young fig tree didn’t survive the freakish winter we had this year.  Michel and I were so excited late last fall to find dozens of baby figs starting to form on its branches but the fruits didn’t have time to ripen before the pre-polar vortex besieged us.  And now in mid-June this once promising little tree shows no signs of life.

Before, after.  Thanks, Winter 2014. 

*Speaking of no signs of life, I’m breaking a fundamental rule of teaching: Never assume anything. However, I am assuming you are familiar with the story of Cleopatra and the figs.  Some accounts of her demise maintain that she met her end as result of a bite from an asp that was hidden in a vessel of figs.  Others say the asp was in a basket of flowers.  Some say there was no asp at all and that she somehow poisoned herself.  It's not important, really, because it’s a great story no matter how she died.  But--I can never look at a container of fresh figs without thinking of Elizabeth Taylor. 

Now for the recipe:
Cannellini Beans with Rosemary, Almonds, and Fresh Figs. 

Curious?  It’s a brand new ingredient combo for Michel and he’s very pleased with the results.  One ingredient he used for this dish is Fig Balsamic Vinegar from the Zi Olive shop at Westport Village.  It’s not necessary to use this particular vinegar, but it’s really, really delicious.   (Thanks, Georgette!)   
Here is the Zi Olive link for more information:

Ready to cook?  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

fresh rosemary

You will need:
·        1 ¼ cups dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
·        5-6 fresh figs, cut into quarters lengthwise (maybe more depending on size)
·        1 cup fresh almonds, finely chopped
·        ¼ cup fresh rosemary, chopped
·        1 heaping teaspoon red pepper flakes
·        1 teaspoon salt
·        1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar
·        1 teaspoon regular apple cider vinegar (organic with “the mother” if you have it)

In a 3-quart saucepan:
·        Combine beans, rosemary, salt and pepper with enough water to cover.  Bring to a boil.
·        Reduce heat but not too much. There should still be “movement in the water.”
·        Boil for about an hour, adding water as needed to keep mixture covered.
·        During the last 30-45 minutes add chopped almonds. Continue cooking until beans are  done, taking care that the water does not boil over because the almonds make it “act  like milk.”  
before baking: bean-almond-fig mixture drizzled with fig balsamic vinegar 

When beans are done, transfer mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish, or whatever baking vessel you like.  Add quartered figs. Drizzle with fig balsamic vinegar and apple  cider vinegar.  
·        Mix together and bake for 20-30 minutes.

after baking
Serve with salad and/or grain of choice or this fig-related side:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Figs and Baby Kale

Michel used the remainder of the fresh figs to make Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Figs and Baby Kale.  His original Brussels sprouts recipe is among the January 2014 posts but, for this dish, he used figs and drizzled with fig balsamic vinegar.  He also added some cut-up baby kale to the mix before roasting. Yum!