In a recent post I narrated my adventures in making Farmer's Cheese (literally, formaggio del contadino). My second attempt resulted in a tasty and rather salty cheese that sparked my imagination in the direction of salty and sweet pairings:
"Having a salty cheese (formaggio salato) made me try different pairings, the most interesting ones being with sweet companions. First of all figs... [details to be given in an upcoming post.]"
The "upcoming post" is the current one. Before I go any further, let me remind you that the singular of fichi is fico (the importance of the final O will become clear when you reach the end of the post). For this dish I used Mission figs, sweet mouthfuls that one can eat without removing the skin. I read that this variety of fig was brought to California "in the eighteenth century by Franciscan friars from Mexico where they had been given it by Spanish missionaries." Most figs I ate as a child in Italy required peeling, though I remember a variety of small, yellow, incredibly sweet ones that I ate whole. I often picked them myself.
I decided to try and warm up both figs and cheese in the oven and see what happened: my husband and I liked the result and so I have made this dish several times in recent days. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Wash carefully, and pat dry however many figs you think you will eat (warning: more than you think). Remove the stem from each fig and cut in half lengthwise. Arrange fig halves in a baking dish, then place over each a small piece of Farmer's Cheese. Put in the oven about 10 minutes before the estimated serving time. After 10 minutes, the figs will be nice and warm, their flesh a bit softened. The cheese will be warm: it does not melt, so the pieces retain their shape and efficiently deliver to the palate their saltiness, which contrasts nicely with the fig's sweetness.
The photo above shows the plate before it went into the oven the last time I prepared the dish. By the time we ate the figs, it was rather dark and I decided not to try and take a photo with the flash.
Fichi col formaggiO del contadino fatto in casa is my small contribution to the 2nd Annual O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month organized by Michelle ofBleeding Espressoand Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy. Many thanks to Michelle and Sara for doing this.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the fichi col formaggio audio file [mp3].
O Foods Contest for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and for the second year in a row, Sara of Ms Adventures in Italy and Michelle of Bleeding Espresso are hosting the O Foods Contest to raise awareness of this important health issue.
There are TWO WAYS to take part in the O Foods Contest:
ONE: Post a recipe to your blog using a food that starts or ends with the letter O (e.g., oatmeal, orange, okra, octopus, olive, onion, potato, tomato); include this entire text box in the post; and send your post url along with a photo (100 x 100) to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.
PRIZES for recipe posts:
- 1st: Signed copy of Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen by Gina DePalma, Executive Pastry Chef of Babbo Ristorante in NYC, who is currently battling ovarian cancer, inspired this event, and will be choosing her favorite recipe for this prize;
- 2nd: Signed copy of Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home by Mario Batali (winner chosen by Sara);
- 3rd: Signed copy of Vino Italiano: The Regional Italian Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich (winner chosen by Michelle).OR
TWO: If you’re not into the recipe thing, simply post this entire text box in a post on your blog to help spread the word and send your post url to ofoods[at]gmail[dot]com by 11:59 pm (Italy time) on Monday, September 28, 2009.
Awareness posts PRIZE:
- One winner chosen at random will receive a Teal Toes tote bag filled with ovarian cancer awareness goodies that you can spread around amongst your friends and family.
From the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund:
- Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women; a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67.
- The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose, but include bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).
- There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms.
- In spite of this, patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region.
- When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
And remember, you can also always donate to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at our page through FirstGiving!Please help spread the word about ovarian cancer.
Together we can make enough noise to kill this silent killer.