There are two ways to go about cooking:
1) You find a recipe. You go out and buy the ingredients. You cook them.
2) You go out and buy ingredients. You find a recipe. You cook it.
I have almost always been a #1 person, but tonight I journeyed into the land of #2. (Shut up, I know what you’re thinking). (Sidebar: I once had a teacher write on my paper “scatological” next to a paragraph I wrote about a narrator’s constipated efforts to get what they wanted. I was like “scatological” what does that mean? I looked it up and now I’m proud to have it in my repertoire. We must jump at any and every opportunity to use it.)
Figs. That’s what I bought this evening without a recipe in hand.
I bought them tonight at Whole Foods when two plans blew up in my face.
Plan 1) Make fish stew from Tom Valenti’s “One Pot Meals.” Needed to buy 2.5 pounds of cod. Cod, I learned, costs $10.50/lb. Scratch that plan.
Plan 2) Make pesto with the last of the summer basil on sale for $1.95 per large container. Good, good. Needed to buy 1/4 cup of walnuts. Walnuts only come in containers for $4. Then pignolis which ran $5. Parmesan cheese ran $5. Spaghettini also $3-4. Garlic, $1.50. This pesto would cost over $20. It didn’t seem fair to spend over $20 on pesto por solo mio. I scratched that plan too.
So I bought sushi, potato chips and figs. Black mission figs. I’d never bought them before. I thought they looked pretty cool.
I got home and ate one. Tastyish. Not as fully accomplished as the Date, but subtler, mellower, with a slightly bitterish undertaste. Ish.
I was not impressed.
So while procrastinating from tonight’s work (had to watch “Chungking Express” and “Some Like It Hot”) (I love “Some Like It Hot”) (Do you think it would be cruel to name my daughter, should I have one, Sugar? I think this would be a good idea for two reasons:
1) I love sugar. I love cooking with sugar. I love things that are sweet. And most probably I’ll love my daughter.
2) I love Billy Wilder.
I searched for black mission fig recipes on the internet. Most of them were for savory dishes like VEAL and DUCK and meaty things that I didn’t have handy. Then I came across these fig recipes and decided to do the only one with ingredients I had handy: fried figs.
Well one small substitution: the recipe called for milk and I didn’t have milk. I typed in “substitute milk” on Google and found some random recipe that suggested subbing sour cream for milk. I had sour cream in my fridge so this seemed like a good idea.
I whisked it with an egg:
Then added flour, baking powder and salt. Dropped my figs in and coated them:
Poured two cups of vegetable oil into a pot with a thermometer and cranked up the heat to high. Soon we were at 360 degrees and I added three batter-coated figs:
They fried pretty quick, and I drained them on paper towels:
Repeated this with the rest of the figs (16 in all) and then put them on a cooling rack and dusted them with powdered sugar:
How’d they taste? Mighty good, I’d say. The powdered sugar helped a lot. These figs weren’t particularly sweet. If it were possible, I would have stuffed some of the figs with brown sugar or something to make the insides sweeter. But as they were, they were mature tasting. More “Mean Girls” than “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen.”
There was still batter leftover and not to be wasteful I added a handful of sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon and then spooned some into the pot of hot oil:
Let them drain on paper towels too:
How could these taste bad? They didn’t. I sure like me some fried dough. Frying stuff is fun. Maybe french fries and donuts are in our future…