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My dog eats earbuds. I put between 5 and 15 miles on my sneakers every day, and love listening to audiobooks while I’m out there on the trail. I keep leaving those earbuds on my desk, and find them fully munched when I go to grab them, so I’m usually trapped in my own head. When my mind wanders, it’s usually food-related. One day, my fantasy tv show popped into my head. The host would travel the world, and visit people’s gardens, and then follow them into the kitchen to see what they do with their produce. No 3 different dish segment. Nope. Just a slow paced visit with a lot of vegetables, chatting, and coffee. Or tea if that’s your thing. Sounds flippin’ wonderful, doesn’t it? I found that in book form! Well, at least the Mediterranean. She’ll have to work on the rest of the world later.
The Forest Feast Mediterranean is an amazing book of mouth-watering produce. This is my second Erin Gleeson book. My favorite thing about her is that she’s summertime easy breezy freshness on the table. If this is your first book of hers, it’s a little different than the average cookbook. She has large photos and drawings, and puts the ingredients and steps right over them.
I’ll tell you all about all the dishes we tried later, but first I wanted to share her recipe for Fig Cake with Dried Cherries with you! It is beyond fabulous platter fare, pairs amazingly well with paper thin Manchego shavings, and is ridiculously easy for how darn cute it is. It’s basically one giant shareable energy ball. A huge thanks to ABRAMS The Art of Books for letting me share it with you! The book is coming out next Tuesday, 9/17/19!
Fig Cake with Dried Cherries
On a day trip from Barcelona, we visited the stunning mountainside monastery called Montserrat (below). We took a cable car to the top, where there were tables selling an impressive variety of little round dried fig cakes (pan de higo), each uniquely decorated with dried fruit and nuts. Thin slices of this cake are often used instead of a cracker with cheese. We brought some home to enjoy as an appetizer before dinner with wine. I added dried cherries to my variation for a bit of tang.
Dried Mission figs – 1 cup (100 g), stems removed
Dried cherries – 1/4 cup (35 g), unsweetened
Roasted almonds – 1/2 cup (70 g), unsalted
plus… a pinch of cinnamon, 1 T honey & 1 T water
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until a sticky dough-like consistency is achieved. If the mixture seems too dry, add a tiny bit more water. Using your hands, form it into a big patty. Decorate the top by pressing in more dried fruit and nuts. I used whole pine nuts, almonds, and a slice of dried fig. Wrap and chill before serving, which makes it harden and easier to slice. Serve with wedges of Manchego cheese.
I’m not vegetarian, just a massive produce enthusiast, so I used this to make a brunch charcuterie board. If you’re vegetarian, you wouldn’t include my selection on the right. 😀 ~Jen
My thoughts and pics of the dishes we tried:
1) Spicy Melon Salad – p 100. This combination of melons with tomatoes and a little zing from pepper and arugula is wonderfully refreshing and earthy with sweet and spicy notes.
2) Fig Cake with Dried Cherries – p 136. We all adored this! It’s like a giant energy ball, served with thinly shaven Manchego. It’s really the perfect centerpiece for a platter.
3) Seared Fennel & Clementine Salad – p 72. Great combination of flavors.
4) Stuffed Cherry Peppers – p 36. Tangy and creamy cheese filled pickled peppers with citrus zest, chives, and fresh cracked pepper. So yummy and quick. Hers stood up individually in the pics. Mine were a little lazier and leaned on each other for support.
5) Summer Corn and Peach Salad – p 104. Delicious and interesting combination of fruits and veggies. We loved it and took 10 minutes to pull together without heating up the house at all.
6-7) Tortilla Espanola with Rainbow Chard – p 156. Loved this. I’ve never made tortilla Espanola with greens in it before, and everyone really enjoyed it. She doesn’t mention sauce with it. An herby garlic aioli is absolutely perfect for it.
8) Pomegranate Stuffed Avocados – p 96. These were really interesting and a quick, yummy, pretty lunch.
9) Roasted Cauliflower Salad – p 102. Lovely fall flavors brightened with fresh lemon and tangy yogurt.
10) Golden Beet & Orange Salad – p 70. Really nice earthy salad. The citrus really livens up the beets.
11) Herbes de Provence Winter Vegetables – p 202. Lovely roasted winter vegetable dish. I made it a second time and added dried cherries, candied pecans, and feta to make it a stand-alone dish.
Some others I have flagged to try: Stuffed Dried Figs – p 42 * Grapefruit & Thyme Aperol Spritz – p 50 * Winter Caprese – p 84 * Shaved Snap Pea Salad – p 88 * Algarve Salad – p 92 * Patatas Bravas – p 116 * Baked Provolone – p 126 * Burrata & Olive Antipasto – p 130 * Baked Zucchini Strips – p 196 * Cacio e Pepe Spaghetti Squash – p 206 * Spicy Broccolini & Leeks – p 208 * Honey-Balsamic Green Beans – p 212 * Baked Sweet Potatoes with Hazelnuts – p 215 * Avocado Chocolate Mousse – p 222
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Her first book
If you’re curious about her first book, here’s a screenshot of my review of that one on Amazon.