Last week my friend Stephen came into town to stay with me for the weekend. When he comes to visit, three things are guaranteed: 1) lots of laughing 2) champagne and of course 3) good eating. I always try to make a special meal on the night he arrives so we can relax at the house and catch up. I had planned a sausage and wild mushroom pasta as our entree but I know prosciutto to be one of his favorite things, so I had to feature it somehow.
It's fall and I know I have mentioned my love for figs many times in previous posts but there really is no better time to eat them than right now. There are so many culinary creations one could do with this sweet, juicy fruit but I was looking for something easy and no fuss, yet elegant.
I started by pan roasting the figs with some olive oil, salt and pepper and cooked them for about 15 minutes, just enough to start seeing them collapse a bit. I then transferred them to a baking sheet, gave them a nice drizzle of honey and popped them into the oven at 375. After 15 minutes of roasting, I allow them to cool and turn to my bread. I brushed a few slices of a crusty baguette with extra virgin olive oil and grilled them to get toasty. Setting the bread aside to cool, it was time to uncork a bottle of chilled rosé champagne.
I have to flash forward to the story of the airbed. We're still in the process of updating our spare bedroom and currently only have a chest of drawers in the room. Stephen was aware of the renovation and brought up his air mattress. Turns out this mattress hadn't been used in over 10 years! It really should have been given a test run prior to the expectation that it would just "inflate". We talked and laughed on the couch until midnight sharing stories of our busy lives, then realized we should probably blow up the bed. I helped him unroll the mattress and plugged in the machine that attaches to the air spout. When I flipped the switch...nothing, no air to speak of. I began laughing uncontrollably when I read the instructions aloud. In big bold text, it read "battery should be charged for at least 10 hours before use". So here we are 10 hours too late, attempting to pump this bed full of air using my hairdryer. We were full and tired and it was almost 1AM.
40 minutes later holding the dryer in place, upper arm cramping at exercise it hasn't seen in years, it seemed, well...sort of full. We thought it would be enough and never really took into account that once he laid on it, it would probably deflate some. In the morning, it seemed as though it deflated quite a bit more than we had hoped and Stephen's hip took the brunt.
So I began to spread some whipped mascarpone cheese on the grilled bread and gently laid a slice of prosciutto on top to envelop the soft honey kissed figs. With a few pinches of sea salt and cracked black pepper, I spooned a syrupy balsamic reduction I had made earlier in the evening over the top of each crostini.
This crostini had it all! Everything you could ever want in a simple bite. The sweet fig, the salty Italian ham, the creamy cheese and a hint of acid from the reduction. An easy and upscale starter to welcome a dear friend. Somehow, despite poor planning for sleeping arrangements and a bruised hip, we still laughed about it. I know he'll be back again and I'm quite certain these crostini had something to do with it.