Thursday, September 8, 2011

Peggy’s Bday : ) Fig, Pig, T’matas and Chowder [Part 1 of 3]

Late August means cooking my 2nd annual birthday dinner for my mother-in-law Peggy.  It feels predictable, but I can’t help but focus the first course on tomatoes as they bumble and tumble off of every produce stand around this time of year. Then, I seemed to be pulled toward doing a seafood dish that would be almost saucy enough to be a stew, but plated like a regular entree. In part because I was interested in doing these fabulous domino potatoes like the ones done here on So I settled on a chowder.

The Eats

Prosciutto Purses

with local figs, mascarpone and parmegiano reggiano

Tomato and Basil

individual tomato zucchini tartlettes 

parmesan mousse with roasted tomato petals

lemony ratatouille with Japanese eggplant coins


Seafood Chowder
littleneck clams, seared scallops, and halibut fish stick with molten leeks and chowder 


Watermelon Sorbet

watermelon puree, with the awesome ginger liqueur I posted earlier


I bought figs at the Fredericksburg farmers’ market and as usual was faced with the challenge of serving something I would often use raw – cooked (my hubby.. see ‘about.’ He won’t eat raw stuff. not yet. but I digress)

I love figs with prosciutto, and I new I couldn’t go wrong with some tangy cheese in there, so I decided to make these prosciutto purses. At first I imagined that I would take a square of the ham, put a touch of cheeses and then a wedge of the fig. I tried by cutting the store-bought pieces of prosciutto in half, assembling the purses and baking off briefly. Surprisingly the fig flavor wasn’t forward enough. And they were too big.


I wanted a smaller bite-size and more pronounced fig, so I made a mix out of rough chopped figs, the cheeses and a touch of agave and cut the prosciutto slices into 3rds. They were a great size, had more balanced flavor and worked better for a smaller parcel.


Worked great. Like most bacon style HDs, they sold well, but they’re very intense in flavor, so you only need so many. I did 2.5 pieces per person.  

Prosciutto Purses

6 figs

.5 cup mascarpone cheese

.25 cup shredded parmesan or asiago cheese

8 slices Prosciutto

24 chives, blanched (shocked in ice) – an option if you wanna to tie the tiny bows

– cut figs into wedges and then cut those in half (depending on the size of the fig)
– mix figs, mascarpone and hard shredded cheese

– cut the ham into 3rds and place fig filling in the center of each
– pull the corners and sides of ham up to bunch in the middle/top and form a purse
– the ham will hold the shape of the purse, but if you want to finish with a flourish ; ) tie the chives around the tops of each purse in bows (see background of 2nd pic)
– bake on foil in 350 degree oven for 5 – 8 minutes to warm the fig filling and get a slight crisp on the bottom of the purse OR just sear in a pan over moderate to high heat for a minute or two

Hint for making ahead: I planned on assembling and searing at the party, but it seemed like the filling might make the ham soggy after a few hours, so I quickly seared them over moderate heat to ‘set’ the bottom of the purse, and then held them on foil so I could pop them in the oven for 3-5 minutes when I went to serve. 







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