We both love spice and I regularly employ all sorts of hot peppers in the kitchen, but jalapeño receives the lion’s share of our attention. Never keen on letting fresh ingredients go to waste (nor exercising self-restraint in the garden or at the market when produce is in season + the price is right), I set off on an adventure to save the latest collection of chillies.
There is a definite seasonal urgency to cooking, especially this time of year. One minute you’re on top of the game, the next Mother Nature snatches away your favorite ingredients without warning. Removing her wrench from my plans is where you will currently find me.
Originally conceived to capture the final harvest of fresh figs, our tree took an early holiday, and has since been put to bed. But I’m a sucker for fig cookies, and darned if this setback was going to impede my weekly baking therapy — dried, it is!
As with many topics of culinary history, the origin of cooking foods encased in salt is up for debate. Several cultures lay claim to the invention — from the Iberian Spaniards and Portuguese, to the Mediterranean Italians and Greeks, and further east to the ancient Persians and Chinese.
Whatever the truth, salt-baking, or salt-roasting, has stood the test of time. Similar to tagines and clay pots, this centuries-old method traps steam heat to infuse moisture, amplify flavor and retain nutrients. So remarkably tender and succulent are the foods cooked inside these paradoxical salt igloos, that this otherwise humble technique has even been likened to the light-years-more-high-tech magic of sous vide.
Showstopping desserts don’t have to mean fancy techniques or expensive ingredients or even butter and chocolate. Sometimes it’s more about a willingness to change the way we think about every-day food items we keep. Sometimes favoring simplicity + ingenuity wins the day.
A small mountain of fresh figs doesn’t hurt either.
By now you know that I take great pleasure dabbling in all manner of edible DIY projects that improve nutrition, enhance flavor, save money, or are simply fun + intriguing.
To appeal to my inner crunchy-granola-ness: Homemade sprouted mung beans.
Unlike garden sprouting, sprouting in the kitchen requires no green thumb, and is addictively simple. And fascinating!