stuffed prunes of buon appetito

Though I haven’t been cooking and baking up a storm like I did when I started this ‘lil site, we haven’t been lacking in the good food department. There are plenty of places to try speckled along our stretch of California beach (I smell bacon on my bike ride to work each morning, mingled with the smell of sea and campfire), and the hubby’s been cooking a lot more. The best part? He seems to genuinely enjoy it. I get frequent eggy breakfasts upon returning home from 6 a.m. Masters swims, and in the last month he’s been known to whip up osso bucco, or lamb tongue/beef heart stew on weeknights. Currently, he’s making his own bitters. NICE.

But there is one “recent” favorite I thought I’d share with you: a wee little appetizer we cooked for friends on New Year’s Eve … our foodiest yet, spent with our charcuterie and French technique master friend Chris (and his excellent sous chef, Rebecca.) We chose these Stuffed Prunes of Buon Appetito, which we discovered on The Splendid Table podcast and cooked for our parents a few Christmases ago. Here’s a little preview:


Soak prunes in a briny, winey marinade, stuff Dijon mustard and a macadamia nut inside, stuff with a prawn and wrap in slabs of fatty bacon? You can’t really go wrong with that. (OK, I’ve been watching too much Bourdain.) But you must admit, they do look appetizing. And that is the job of an appetizer, non? Anyway, this was just the beginning of a night of memorable, yet classic, subdued flavors, which we sampled well past the turning of the calendar to 2012.


There’s the master chef at work…


After welcoming an iPhone 4S into my repertoire I haven’t been toting the fancy camera around much. But that’s no reason to stop blogging, and I’m going to try to be a bit more regular, even with just good old Instagram and Camera+ at my disposal. Here’s a peek into the other dishes that satiated us into a new year.

We started with duck confit with mixed greens and pomegranate,



accompanied by a fine selection of cheeses, of course.



Then we transitioned into crab bisque with puff pastry lids,



…and finished off the night (and 2011) with all-day-long poached pears (in red wine, anise, cinnamon, and cloves) with pistachio nuts and full-fat Greek yogurt:



Winnipeg’s chill was offset by the warm, luxurious flavors, and the meal was a great send-off as we headed back to San Diego the next day. More to come, but for now, the recipe for the prunes, below.

Stuffed Prunes of Buen Appetito


Adapted from Secrets of the Tsil Cafe: A Novel with Recipes by Thomas Fox Averil, copyright 2001.

  • 12 prunes, pitted
  • 1/2 cup Burgundy wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 12 shrimp, uncooked
  • 12 macadamia nuts
  • Dijon mustard
  • 6 lean bacon strips, cut in half
  1. Pit prunes and let soak overnight in wine, bay, soy sauce, and garlic. Peel uncooked shrimp and stuff into prune with a macadamia nut and a dollop of mustard. Wrap in bacon, secure with toothpick and broil until bacon is crisp and shrimp is cooked. Let cool and eat as an appetizer.
  2. Eat slowly. Most people tend to eat too quickly. But food, to be enjoyed, needs time, just as a relationship does. Get acquainted with this recipe, one small bite at a time.

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