Thursday, March 8, 2012

Figs in My Wine, and a NEW Newf in My Soup!

When Dooley's breeders offered us one of three boys from a litter out of Ch. Wynship's Top Gun and Seabrook's All Hail Wynship, we had to do some serious thinking. After losing Diver so suddenly a year and a half ago, when he was only three, and Dooley just turning 13 in January, we debated whether it was the right time for another puppy.

As soon as we went to visit the two puppies JoAnn brought back from Michigan, it was all over. Saying no to one of those faces was not an option. All puppies are adorable, but Newf puppies are scrumptious. At 10 weeks old, they were already 30 lbs. of lovable, cuddly, and playful bundles of soft fur.

Within a few days, we were introducing Dooley to his half-brother.

Getting acquainted

Choosing the perfect name is a challenge, but I think we came up with a good one: Wynship's Guardian of Trapper Peak aka Trapper. John and I have vacationed at Triple Creek Ranch in Montana, where the views of Trapper Peak are stunning. We are drawn to the beauty of the Bitterroot Valley, and dream of having our own vacation or retirement home there someday (I suspect this ranch, for a mere 15 million, could be converted to a quaint Bed & Breakfast). The Lewis and Clark expedition also traveled a trail through the Bitterroot Valley, in the shadow of Trapper Peak, with their Newfoundland dog, Seaman.

Trapper Peak, Montana, at sunrise during our last visit to Triple Creek Ranch

Although I've been consumed with puppy love this past week, I did manage to prepare another bookmarked recipe out of The Hearty Boys' Talk With Your Mouth Full cookbook. I made this Gorgonzola, Fig and Pecan Terrine for a food writing workshop taught by Dianne Jacob and coordinated by the San Diego Food Bloggers group.

Photograph by Laurie Proffitt, Talk With Your Mouth Full

I could dedicate an entire blog post to Dianne's inspiring workshop, but I still need time to digest all of the valuable information and tips she provided, and read the revised and updated edition of her book, Will Write for Food: The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir, and More. I started this blog as a hobby and creative outlet for my cooking, but I am continually striving to improve my food photography and writing.

Before tackling this recipe, you should know it won't come out looking as beautiful as the photograph in the cookbook, unless you make a few preparation and styling revisions. I instinctively knew this before my first attempt, but plunged ahead without taking the time to think through the final presentation.

Next time, I will divide the cheese mixture between two loaf pans and mold the top and bottom pieces separately. That way, I can un-mold the bottom piece onto my serving platter, spoon over the figs, pecans, and herbs, and then loosely position the second piece of cheese on top of the filling. If fresh figs are in season, they make a beautiful garnish.

I did make a few changes to the original recipe. I doubled the amount of figs and pecans, because I felt the ratio of cheese to filling was too high. I also chose to simmer all of the figs in the red wine, rather than leaving half of the figs sober. I could have easily eaten every one of those drunken figs, without a smidgen of cheese, in two minutes flat.

A few more notes: This terrine is large enough to feed 20-30 people, so you may wish to cut the cheese and butter quantities in half, and prepare a mini-version for more intimate gatherings. If you're not in the mood to prepare and assemble the entire terrine, make the drunken figs! Simply simmer the figs in red wine and thyme sprigs, drain, spoon them over a log of goat cheese or wedge of Gorgonzola, drizzle with honey, add toasted or candied pecans, crackers, and grape clusters, and call it a day.

Gorgonzola, Fig and Pecan Terrine
Adapted from Talk With Your Mouth Full, by Dan Smith and Steve McDonagh
Original recipe published on Food


2 cups dried Mission figs, quartered
1 ½ cups red wine
3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces Gorgonzola, crumbled
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pecan pieces, lightly toasted (1 cup to go in the terrine and the other cup for garnishing the top)
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley, plus additional parsley leaves for garnish


Put the quartered figs, wine and thyme sprigs into a small saucepan and allow to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Drain the figs, discard the thyme and wine and set the figs aside to cool. Half of the figs will go into the middle of the terrine, and the other half will be used to garnish the top of the terrine.

Put the cream cheese and butter into the bowl of a standing mixer fixed with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until blended, about one minute. Add the Gorgonzola, brandy, and salt, and beat for another minute. Do not overbeat.

(This is the step I would change, as discussed above). Spray a one-quart loaf pan with cooking spray and line the inside with plastic wrap. Spoon half of the cheese mixture into the pan and spread it evenly, making sure to get into the corners. Scatter one cup of the wine-soaked figs, 1 cup of the toasted pecans, and all of the chopped parsley evenly over the top, and then cover with the remaining cheese. Fold the overlapping plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

About an hour before serving time, carefully lift the terrine out of the loaf pan, remove the plastic and place terrine on a serving platter or cheese board. Garnish the top with the remaining one cup of figs, one cup of toasted pecans, and parsley leaves. Serve with crackers.


Emma Green said...

The picture of Trapper and Dooley meeting for the first time is priceless! You must have your hands full with the new little one, but I'm sure he is totally worth it. The terrine looks delicious, I will have to attempt to make it! Thanks for posting!

Jenny VintageSugarcube) said...

Soo nice to meet you last Saturday.. The figs are divine and looked absolutely stunning on the cheese. I think everyone with a camera got a great pic of it. :)

Sandra Younger said...

There is NOTHING like a new NEWF in your soup. Big congrats and Newfy love!

Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator said...

I am so looking forward to getting a puppy and confess I'm a little jealous. I can attest that the drunken figs were delish! So nice spending the day with you. Your blog is gorgeous.