Making a syrupy balsamic vinegar has been on my to-do list for awhile. When planning our April Spring Entertaining class, I wanted to take something simple and make it grand, so dressing up this super simple salmon dish with balsamic and pesto drizzles seemed like a great way to show off for company. But the balsamic I had purchased just wasn’t syrupy enough, even the $20 bottle of Fig Balsamic I bought at the Olive A’Sudden store on my last visit to Palm Springs. While it tasted heavenly, I was going to have to reduce it to the consistency I was looking for.
Erika Kerekes of www.inerikaskitchen.com invited me to Figology Fest LA sponsored by the California Fig Advisory Board where I got to taste ten different dishes made with California dried figs plus a California Fig Julep cocktail. It was a very elegant event with some highly creative dishes. How about some Figgy Piggy “Newtons”, created by Judy Lyness of Two Broads Abroad? Yes, Fig Newtons with bacon sprinkles. How could I resist? I had my eye on Erika’s Grilled Fig Prosciutto Packets with the Fig Balsamic Drizzle I coveted. The drizzle was exactly what I had in mind for the salmon we were cooking at our Spring Entertaining cooking class later that week. So I stole her recipe (with her prompting, of course). The great thing about food bloggers is that we are a sharing kind of group.
I left the Figology Fest with the Fig Balsamic Drizzle recipe, a cool California Fig cloth shopping bag and two pouches of dried Mission and golden figs in hand. While preparing dinner the next day, I played with the figs and the cheap-cheap balsamic vinegar Erika said I should buy – we’re talking $2.99 instead of the fancy $20 bottle I had from Olive A’Sudden, which I will save for another use. Super simple.
Mix the balsamic vinegar with the chopped dried figs and let simmer for 10 minutes or so. Blend the two together with an immersion blender or whatever you have in your kitchen.
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl or measuring cup with a spout. Messy work, but straining the fig pulp from the sweet syrup is easy, the rewards are great and you get to lick the bowl!
…but SAVE the pulp.
After straining, pour the amazing Fig Balsamic Syrup into a squeeze bottle for a zillion uses.
Prep the salmon by cutting it into individual pieces, then place them side by side on some heavy duty foil, drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with another sheet of aluminum foil and seal by folding over twice on each side. Set aside and place in the oven just before serving.
To decorate our festive Salmon for company, have two squeeze bottles ready – one with the Fig Balsamic Drizzle and the other with some Pesto. Squeeze alternate lines across the salmon to make grill-like marks. Serve with a side dish like this Kamut with Asparagus, Peas and Roasted Lemon and decorate your plate with edible organic nasturtiums, which are growing in my front yard right now.
What I didn’t plan for was the side benefit of making my own Fig Balsamic Vinegar Syrup. The leftover pulp is like a fig jam, perfect to top, well anything. Later in the week after our Spring Entertaining class, I had some extra milk and buttermilk in my fridge, so I combined the two with some salt and made some fresh ricotta cheese…to go with my fig jam. This is often how things work in my kitchen. One project turns into another and then another and before you know it, I’ve made all these cool cooking discoveries. I call this new discovery, Fresh Ricotta and Fig Canapes…creamy, sweet and crunchy with the zing of the balsamic. Extra yummy. Or if you can’t resist, save the fig jam for Judy’s “Figgy Piggy Newtons”.
Salmon Poached in Foil
- 2 – 2 1/2 pounds salmon filet,
- 1 Tbs + olive oil
- 1 pinch salt & pepper to taste
- large piece heavy duty aluminum foil
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced (optional)
1. Prep salmon filet by feeling for “pin” bones. Remove any with a set of sterilized tweezers. Salt and pepper both sides of the filet.
2. Cut two pieces of heavy duty aluminum foil 4″ longer than the piece of salmon. Brush each piece with a light coating of olive oil. Place first piece of foil on a baking sheet. For platter presentation, place salmon filet in the middle of first piece of the foil. For plating presentation, slice across the filet into six pieces. Then place all pieces in center of foil touching each other, so it looks like it was not sliced. Tuck under any skinny pieces of flesh to make the same thickness across the filet. For platter presentation, place thin lemon slices in a decorative manner on top of the salmon.
3. Cover with second piece of foil. With two pieces of foil together, fold over each side twice to form an airtight packet. Set aside.
4. Two cooking options: Slide foil packet onto a medium hot barbecue or place the baking sheet in a 350° oven for approximately 15 minutes. This could vary, based on the heat of the barbecue and the thickness of the fish. The salmon will be done when you see the foil puff up and steam may be escaping. You can check progress by opening a corner AWAY from your face very carefully, so that you can reclose, if not yet done. Be careful as steam will escape and can burn anything in its path. You will know the salmon is done when it is firm while pressing down on the fish. When done, remove from heat and keep enclosed until serving.
Servings: 6 299 calories per serving
Fig Balsamic Drizzle
- 1 1/3 cups balsamic vinegar
- 3 ounces Mission dried figs, about 6 dried figs
1. Place balsamic and chopped figs into a saucepan over medium-low heat. Simmer until the vinegar is reduced by about a third and the figs are soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until relatively smooth.
3. Set a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or measuring cup with spout. Pour the vinegar mixture into the strainer, use a spoon to force the liquid through, save the fig jam that remains for another use.
Yield: 1/2 cup Total 511 calories