Tag: fig

Camping deluxe – Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala & Honey Butter

Post sponsored by Volkswagen.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Although I can’t really call myself an experienced camper, I’m fascinated by the idea of setting up a tent in the middle of nowhere and keeping the signs of civilization to a minimum.

I got my introduction to camping through my boyfriend. To avoid unnecessary difficulties, he chose wisely and decided to give it a go when we were in his home country – a place where you’re never really completely cut off. He convinced me to take a boat to Comino, Malta’s tiny sister island, which is just the right size to jump bravely into our first outdoor adventure without having to worry about too many risks. Our ‘captain’ dropped us off at the shore, along with our two bags, a tent, and a cooling box. It was August, it was unbearably hot, and I found myself in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, on a rocky island. There was not a single tree in sight. My boyfriend, however, looked at the situation with far more optimism. He knows Comino like his back pocket, thanks to countless trips as a child. He set up our rather basic looking tent within less than 10 minutes, with a little help from his clueless German girlfriend (I really tried hard not to be a burden). And when we were done, we jumped into the gentle waves in a lonely bay and I felt a bit like Robinson Crusoe. All of a sudden I started to like this camping idea.

To prepare our dinner, I collected some twigs and my man made a fire. We even managed to exchange a few of our tomatoes from the cooling box with the fresh catch of a passing fisherman. Then I got comfortable: I couldn’t help but turn the rocks around me into a little desert island kitchen. Olive oil, salt, and pepper were ready to marinate the fish and vegetables for our DIY BBQ and we sat down with a glass of wine (a gift from the fisherman). This dinner tasted so good that I could have cried. Maybe that’s part of the whole camping experience, you’re very close to nature, you depend on the weather, the sunlight, the sea, and the food that nature (or your cooling box) offers you. It makes you humble and it opens your senses, everything feels more intense. To smell, taste, feel, and see is essential when you live in and around a tent or camper van. The night came early and covered our little island in the deepest darkness. As soon as the sun sank into the sea, I felt more sleepy than usual, but also more peaceful. I brushed my teeth in the calm sea and went to bed.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Most of my activities on the Maltese Islands are documented in thousands of pictures, but the idea of camping – at least in my eyes – is about being unplugged and as far away from any technical devices as possible. So there’s no photographic evidence of my first or our following Comino camping adventures. However, when I spoke to my mother about camping recently, she brought many stories and pictures back to mind that I hadn’t thought of in decades. My parents and my sister went to the Camargue, in southern France in the 70s, to a place with the beautiful name Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. They didn’t have a tent but an old Volkswagen van. I always loved the old photographs, of them on the beach and in old villages, on ancient narrow cobblestone streets. The ease of a camper on their faces. One of the nicest camper vans I know belongs to our friends Luke and Jessica in Malta. Their gorgeous four wheeled gem is baby blue, built in 1968, and its restoration took them 10 months, but all the patience, sweat, and love they put into it was worth it.

Stephanie Le from Canada also shared her love for camping with me in our meet in your kitchen feature a few weeks ago. She’s a pro, she even manages to create a Beef Stroganoff when she’s out in the woods. Stephanie made me think about the culinary challenges that you have to face when you limit your life to a few bags and a grill or gas stove. It also makes a huge difference if you’re in a place that still allows you to forage, or where fishermen offer you the best fish you ever tasted in your whole life. I’m talking about a rather romantic kind of camping here, away from the crowds and civilization and its disturbing visual and acoustic side effects.

Let’s say you’ll be out in the wilderness, for 1-2 nights, and you can upgrade your meal with some fruit and dairy products, the cooling box will keep it fresh for a day. When Volkswagen asked me to come up with a recipe – an eat in my kitchen on the road creation – I couldn’t help but think of camping deluxe. A kind of camping that satisfies the longings of a gourmet who ended up off the beaten track. The senses stimulated by the whole outdoor experience, ready to be caressed by a beautiful plate of farfalle with ripe figs, creamy mozzarella di bufala, velvety honey butter, and fragrant basil. The dried pasta and honey are easy to store, the figs and herbs can be kept in a lunch box, and the mozzarella and butter stay fresh in the cooling box. This would be my ideal treat for a night under the clear black sky.

For more delicious recipes and kitchen inspiration, visit Volkswagen’s Pinterest community board Food Blogger for Volkswagen.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Serves 2

farfalle pasta 200g / 7 ounces
butter 3 tablespoons
honey 1 1/2-2 teaspoons
large figs, cut into 8 wedges each, 2
mozzarella di bufala, torn into pieces, 125g / 4 1/2 ounces
fresh basil leaves, a small handful
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
flaky sea salt

Cook the farfalle in salted water until al dente.

In the pot used to cook the pasta, heat the butter and honey and whisk until combined. Mix in the farfalle, stir, and divide between 2 plates. Arrange the figs, mozzarella, and basil on top and season with crushed pepper and flaky sea salt to taste.

Enjoy warm or cold.

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

 

Farfalle Pasta with Figs, Mozzarella di Bufala and Honey Butter

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary

I’m back in Berlin, back in my kitchen, and I’m enjoying every bit of the calm silence around me. My life here is a stark contrast to the Mediterranean craziness that I inhale from the moment I arrive until I jump back on my plane, taking me back up north. Living in Malta feels like living in a beehive, and although there are ‘only’ 420,000 people on the islands, it feels far more loud and lively than Berlin and its 3.5 million people. I love and hate this buzz at the same time, it excites me, it pushes me, and it entertains me constantly. There’s no other place in the world where I laugh as much as on our Mediterranean archipelago. But it also exhausts me. It’s hard to find a moment just for myself, the tranquil atmosphere that I need so much to get ready for my next adventure. Berlin satisfies this craving perfectly, but here, I miss my Maltese people and the sea – I guess you can’t have everything in life.

Our kitchen in Berlin faces a very quiet backyard. I leave the windows open to hear the birds sing, and then it’s often just me, alone with my thoughts and ideas, picturing ingredients and remembering old classics or coming up with new recipes. I get the cooker or oven started and my meditation begins. I have celebrated this ritual every day since we got back, I just cook in silence. Seeing that the weather hasn’t shown the slightest hint of summer, I concentrated on rather hearty pleasures. I made cheese spaetzle (Southern German egg noodles with lots of melted cheese and golden onions), pasta with sautéed radicchio, chicken liver, and mustard butter, and we had our obligatory Sunday pizza night. I tried out a new cake recipe with the sweetest greengage plums, which was great, and I experimented with some dip variations. It was all very relaxing, calming, and it put my mind at ease.

I also pulled one glorious – and much appreciated – dish out of my oven that combined all the luscious enjoyments of summer: a spongy, oily focaccia topped with ripe figs, soft chèvre, honey, and rosemary. It’s perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or as a snack – I could even eat it at teatime with a cup of flowery Darjeeling tea.

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary

 

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary

Makes a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ focaccia

For the dough

plain flour 500g / 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons
fast-acting yeast 1 (7g / 1/4 ounce) envelope
fine sea salt 1 teaspoon
granulated sugar 1 heaping teaspoon
water, lukewarm, 260ml / 1 cup and 2 tablespoons
olive oil 120ml / 1/2 cup, plus 1-2 tablespoons to oil the baking sheet

For the topping

honey 2 tablespoons
ripe figs, cut in half, 6
soft chèvre, torn into pieces, 150g / 5 ounces
fresh rosemary needles, a small handful
flaky sea salt
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar (optional)

For the dough, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the lukewarm water and half the olive oil (60ml / 1/4 cup) and knead on medium-high speed for a few minutes until well combined. I mix it on ‘4’ on my KitchenAid. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour. Transfer the dough to a table or countertop and continue kneading and punching it down with your hands for about 4 minutes or until you have a smooth and elastic ball of dough. Place the dough back in the mixer bowl, cover with a tea towel, and let rise in a warm place, or preferably in a 35°C / 100°F warm oven (conventional setting), for about 60 minutes or until doubled in size.

Oil a 25 x 32cm / 10 x 12 1/2″ baking sheet.

When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, take it out of the bowl, and knead for 1 minute. Using your hands, stretch and spread the dough on the oiled baking sheet. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for about 20 minutes or until puffy.

Preheat the oven to 220°C / 425°F (convection setting). Heat the honey in a saucepan over low heat for about 1 minute or until liquid.

Using the round bottom of a wooden spoon or your finger, punch around 6 x 7 holes into the surface of the dough. Pour the remaining olive oil over the dough and into the holes. Spread the figs (cut side up) over the focaccia and push them gently into the dough. Sprinkle with the chèvre, rosemary, and a little flaky sea salt, and drizzle with the warm honey. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and light brown. Sprinkle with crushed pepper and enjoy warm or cold.

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary

 

Fig, Chèvre and Honey Focaccia with Rosemary-1

 

figchevrerosemaryfocaccia5-20

 

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