Monthly Archives: October 2007

U.S.-UK Lexicon

In myKitchen Witch Tips, which appear at the bottom of several recipes, I’ve often noted some “translations” for cooking terms that I’ve used. Having lived in a few different countries, my recipes come from various sources and inspirations. As two countries separated by a common language (A fact noted by Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw – yes, I know that this is not an exact quote by either of them.), most of my interpretations are from English to American.

For future ease of reference for those who use my recipes, I’m actually going to bring together here all those little tidbits embedded in my recipes throughout the blog. I’m hoping that this will make it a bit easier to convert between the two and to bring our culinary palates into greater appreciation one for the other.

Just another quite point, BBC Good Food has started using only metric measurements in its on-line listings. Cookware in the U.S. is often sold using both imperial and metric. If you do use international recipes and cookbooks, it is helpful to keep these on hand and also to invest in a kitchen scale that weights in both pounds and kilos.

Buon appetito!

Cilantro = Coriander (fresh)
Eggplant = Aubergine
Zucchini = Courgette
Superfine sugar = Caster sugar
Confectioners’ sugar = Icing sugar
Heavy whipping cream = Double cream
Light whipping cream = Single cream
Light brown sugar = Light Muscavado sugar
Dark brown sugar = Dark Muscavado sugar
Tuna Salad = Tuna Mayonnaise
Egg Salad = Egg Mayonnaise

Fresh Fig Chutney

I wasn’t kidding when I wrote last week that it was a struggle to figure out what to do with the pre-fixed quantity of figs that I had to buy at the store. On the other hand, it also gave me a chance to go through the recipes I’ve pulled from various sources and to cross a few of them off of my list.

I’ve been a long-time reader of BBC Good Food magazine. Recently, I discovered a new addition to their family: Olive magazine. This publication is trying to be a bit more hip and fresh and target an audience that has traveled and is a bit more exploratory in their tastes. I have found their recipes to be colorful and easy to follow and a bit more refined than that of their “big sister” magazine (searching via the BBC Good Food site is easier to do).

One of the weekly challenges I, and I suspect most of us, have is not just to use up fresh, seasonal produce prior to it going bad, but also to come up with ways to use it to make interesting meals during the weeknight. This recipe helped me solve that dilemma along with the question of what to with the leftover figs. It made a nice, uncomplicated dinner at the end of a long day, and this chutney could also go well with grilled lamb or beef.

Buon appetito!

Honey-Fig Butter

Now, this is really dating myself, but, do you remember the Big Fig from the Fig Newton commercials that used to run during Saturday morning cartoons? Like lots of iconic advertising and other symbols of my childhood, what was once funny and entertaining, now seems slightly disturbing: a giant fig with legs, face, and arms singing about a cookie. It certainly didn’t have an impact on my consumption of the cake-like treats one way or another. I’ve always liked them, but they weren’t ever really on my all-time, top-5 snacking list.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that I really like figs themselves, and their mention on a menu is enough to get me to try a dish. In season, they are lovely, squishy, sweet, and perfumey. Although I do enjoy them, I end up running into a problem of just what to do with the vat of figs that I inevitably buy at the grocery store. Like with many other kinds of produce that I have to purchase in a set quantity because that is just how it is just how it is sold, I tend to run out of ideas for how to finish it all before it spoils.

Watching a lone fig slowly start to deteriorate in the back of my fridge, a thought came to mind. I’d already eaten several of these purple beauties, working on my Gorgonzola-stuffed Fig Drizzled with Honeyrecipe (see below). Not that I was exactly sick of that combination of soft, fragrant fruit and pungent cheese with an extra dash of sweet, but I wanted to do something different.

The “lightbulb effect” occurred. I remembered the fig butter that one of my favorite brunch places Avra serves along with their sesame-seed crusted bread at the start of a meal. We usually devour it in minutes. Compound or flavored butters (ones mixed with various herbs and spices) are an interesting category of spreads which I’ve never really taken up in my culinary experiments. For the sake of the leftover figs, I was willing to give it a shot. Here are the results:

Honey-Fig Butter

The sweet-creamy butter was the perfect thing to jazz up my Sunday brunch. I ate it spread liberally on whole grain toast that went with my spinach-shallot-goat’s cheese omelet. Another way, that I’m sure it would be heavenly would be on toasted brioche bread or challah. I’m not sure if it is exactly the same recipe as that used in the restaurant, but the flavors were very close. Fig Newtons, step aside!


Honey-Fig Butter

Serving size: One ramekin
Prep time: 15 minutes, plus softening time

2 Figs, very ripe
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons honey
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cut open figs and scrape out soft, pink insides. Put in bowl. Don’t worry if you also scrape out some of the white part, but you don’t want the outside skin.

Cut butter into small pieces and put in same bowl. Add rest of ingredients. With hand-held or standing mixer, blend ingredients until fully combined and fluffy.

Put butter into ramekin, cover with plastic and place in refrigerator for 10 minutes to harden. Serve with toasted bread.

Buon appetito!