30 January 2009

the girl & the fig Cookbook

the girl & the fig Cookbook is a fun romp through the foods of Sonoma. Sondra Bernstein loves figs. so when she need name for her restaurant it seemed obvious -- the girl and the fig. Bernstein combines a love of French cooking with the simple, fresh ingredients. I must say, at first glance this is not a book that I would feel strongly about. There are a few black and white pictures that don't really give you a good idea of the food. The pages are overly decorative as if to make up for the lack of images and still, I find myself coming back again and again to Bernstein's straightforward recipes.

This year we had a bumper crop of garlic, onions and shallots at Doe Run Farm. This recipe appears for both shallots and onions. It also works for garlic. I have mixed and matched with great success. In these waining winter months, one can also "cheat" with a nice bag of frozen onions, but cut the cooking time by half!

Rather than over complicate recipes by filling them with multiple oils, and spices, Bernstein starts out offering simple recipes to make the oil and spice mixes she uses. Her blended oil (featured in the following recipe) is one part olive oil, 3 parts canola oil.

Balsamic Shallots

1 tablespoon blended oil
1 pound shallots, halved
1 teaspoon chopped thyme
1/2 cup honey
1 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Heat the oi in a large saute pan and saute the shallots until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for a minute more. Add the honey and then the vinegar. Cook the mixture, until the shallots are soft and the vinegar has been reduced by three quarters. Season with salt and pepper.

I'm not fully committed to the honey. I like to take both onions, shallots and a clove or two of garlic with the balsamic and a little oil, place them in a covered cocotte and tuck them in the oven for about 1/2 hour for a chunky variation or about 1 hour for a kind of onion marmalade. Either works as a great side to pork or chicken.


  1. Lucinda,

    If you cheat and use the frozen onions, do you have to compensate for the additional water that is released?
    What's your advice?

  2. If you cheat, I would probably decrease the initial cooking time with the frozen onions. They should be carmalized in about 5 minutes.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin