Smooth as velvet with just the slightest dusting of powder. A firm, hard-as-a-rock crust that doesn't break. Crust that is sub-zero cold and glistens in the sunlight. That's how I like my crust.
Skate ski tracks on perfect crust in Grand Teton National Park.
(Full disclosure: this post does not contain a recipe for the perfect pie crust. I do have such a recipe which I gleaned from my time at the CIA, but it will have to wait. Having eaten my way through Argentina for the past month, I am avoiding all crust-laden foods. Nor do I need to eat steak, pasta, gnocchi, empanadas, chorizo, cheese, bread, cookies, ice cream, chocolate, dulce la leche or even red wine for awhile. At least a week.)
It was just me and the coyotes at 7 am today, using the firm crust to effortlessly travel long distances.
The perfect springtime crust in Jackson Hole is of course the kind you ski on, during that fleeting window of time when it is warm enough during the day to melt the tops of the sinking meadows of snow, and cold enough at night to freeze them solid.
A busy coyote route.
Crust cruising on skate skis can get you very far very quickly. It is best done first thing in the morning, 7:00 is ideal, because as the crust warms up it starts to get soft, and your poles will stick and your skis will break through. The party will be over.
Dried mission figs get fat and juicy in a short bath of ruby port.
I do have a recipe for you today. Tomorrow is Easter, not my favorite holiday for cooking. Fortunately, I have been invited to a friend's house for cocktails and nibbles in the late afternoon...that sounds like my kind of Easter...and I wanted to bring a nibble.
Port Poached Figs with Goat Cheese and Walnuts have nothing to do with Easter, but that's what I'm making. Figs aren't even in season, hence the use of port to poach the dried figs, in order to plump them up and make them festive. These one or two bite appetizers would be perfect with a glass of red wine, but I won't know this until my self-imposed moratorium on red wine consumption has been lifted, given said overindulgence in Argentina. You'll have to let me know.
Sweet, salty, boozy, creamy, tangy and addicting. Happy Easter.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Port Poached Figs with Goat Cheese and Walnuts
This recipe was inspired by a woman in Argentina named Georgie. After 6 hours of dusty driving on bad, barren roads, followed by 4 hours on horseback without a thing to eat or drink, we arrived at our destination in a remote corner of Northern Patagonia. Famished, parched, and covered with dirt, I was served these figs and an ice-cold beer by my new friend.
- one bag dried mission figs (I like Sun-Maid brand, from the raisin people)
- 1/3 cup or more ruby port
- 3-4 oz. goat cheese, the best you can find (Blue cheese would also be good)
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- balsamic vinegar glaze (such as Blaze brand, found in most local grocery stores)
- Snip the stems off the figs with scissors or a sharp knife.
- Place the figs in a shallow bowl and pour enough port over to cover by half. Toss, and let them poach for about 30 minutes. Turn them over, and poach for another 30 minutes.
- Cut each walnut into 4 pieces.
- Remove the figs from the port (drink it if you like!).
- Cut an "X" starting at the stem end to open the fig along 2/3 of its length.
- Place a teaspoon of goat cheese into the center of each fig, top it with a walnut piece.
- Place figs standing up straight on a plate, and drizzle each with the balsamic glaze. If you skip this step, they will still be divine.
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