Monday, August 8, 2016

07 August 2016

Summer has proven to be busier than ever, so it is nice to find a weekend to relax at catch up on a few things around the house. I had the pleasure of visiting Buckeye Creek Farm on Thursday evening in preparation for a fundraising dinner I am preparing for the Upper Etowah River Alliance on September 24. Liz Porter, the farm's owner, took me on a great tour of the gardens, kitchen and greenhouse. It should be a fun evening, and I am happy to do my part to support and promote the Etowah River as a wonderful asset to our community. On Friday night, we ventured down to Chon Ngren to have our customary Friday night Thai food. It was so great seeing many of our friends enjoying their delicious food. After a quick run through Jeep Night at Canton's First Friday, we settled in at One Britt to watch the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics, a personal tradition for many years. We only paused while Jeff and Cory ran downtown to help clean up and collect the signs for First Friday, but we all enjoyed the ceremonies.

Saturday morning began as usual with a trip to the Canton Farmers Market. I had been out of town the past two weekends, so it was great to see everyone and catch up with friends. We had decided to not open the "cement pond" at One Britt this year because we are saving money for our trip to Australia in October, but we had no idea the Summer would be so hot. So, Jeff decided to tackle the pool opening a couple of weeks ago, and he has been working on it nonstop after work and on weekends. We finally got to enjoy the fruit of his labors this weekend by christening the 1950's workhorse with some Summer lovin', and we swam, floated and soaked up the sun for several hours on Saturday and Sunday. It was nice to float around and watch the clouds drift through the sky. While the historic gunite pool has been a maintenance nightmare, at times, it is weekends like these that I thank Dr. Charles Johnson for building the pool back in the fifties. I only wish his mid-century modern pool house had been maintained and saved by the previous owners, but maybe we can rebuild it one day.

Part of our chores this weekend also involved some yard work and tending to our small raised garden. We picked a few fresh tomatoes, peppers and herbs, but the highlight of our backyard bounty was the fresh fruit from our beautiful fig tree. I love figs, and this year's harvest is outrageous. I think the peak was last weekend while we were in Florida, but I still have a lot left on the tree. With a large harvest, I decided to focus tonight's Sunday Supper around figs. I began with a salad of backyard delights of tomatoes, figs, basil, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For the entree, I stuffed some organic chicken breasts with prosciutto, figs, shallots and cheese and served it with a rustic white wine pan sauce. For the side dish, I roasted some of the okra I got at the Farmers Market in the oven until slightly charred and crunchy. This is one of my favorite ways to prepare okra, and it's a lot easier than frying. For dessert, I made a tart with shortbread crust and a filling of mascarpone cheese, goat cheese, Greek yogurt and local honey. I topped it with broiled and caramelized figs with some fresh rosemary. The entire tart only had less than two tablespoons of sugar, and it was delectable.

Here's hoping your hot summer nights and days are filled with great memories, good food and random acts of kindness.

The Menu:

- Fig and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

- Fig, Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad

- Oven Roasted Okra

- Fig Tart with Honey, Goat Cheese and Mascarpone

The Recipe – Fig and Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts


4-5 brown Turkey figs, stemmed and finely chopped

3 ounces Emmental or Fontina cheese, grated

4 teaspoons fresh chopped thyme leaves

2 tablespoons very finely chopped shallots

½ teaspoon kosher salt

4 boneless chicken breasts, pounded 1/4 inch thick

4 to 8 thin slices prosciutto or smoked ham

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons cold butter


Mix together the figs, cheese, thyme and shallots in a small bowl and season to taste with salt. Pound chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness and lay on flat surface. Cover chicken with prosciutto or ham slices. Divide and thinly spread the fig mixture among the chicken breasts. Beginning at the narrow end, roll up each chicken breast tightly, keeping the filling inside. Secure each with toothpicks to keep closed.

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and brown all over. Turn breasts about two minutes each side, around eight minutes total. Pour off most of the fat from the skillet, then add the wine. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cover. Cook until chicken is cooked through, around five minutes.

Transfer chicken to a plate to rest, then turn heat to high. Stir in butter to thicken sauce, cooking to reduce slightly. Slice chicken breasts crosswise to reveal the inner layers, and place on a platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken through a mesh sieve to strain. Serve immediately.

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