Thursday, January 3, 2013

Home Cooking Heroes Spotlight: Georgette & Tommaso's Bacon-Wrapped Stuffed Fig Appetizer

Hi There!
For our second installment of Home Cooking Heroes I am very happy to introduce to you my cousin Georgette Jupe, and her long-time boyfriend, Tommaso.  Georgette grew up in the Southern US but has, since 2007, called Florence, Italy home.

Georgette & Tommaso

A few weeks ago, Georgette mentioned on her Facebook page that she and Tommaso were going to be making bacon-wrapped figs. That sounded really exciting to me - as anything bacon-wrapped has a high chance of being darn good, and figs are, in my mind, rather exotic.

Being the sweet cousin she is, she promptly offered to send me the recipe, and answered the questionnaire I sent her right away.  Being the slacker that I am, it took me a little longer than it should have to get these on here. But here they are, nonetheless!
Her recipe (below) is after the interview.

V: Hi Georgette, Thanks for being such a good sport and letting us feature you on Home Cooking Heroes! Also, thanks for sharing with us a really exciting recipe. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

GThanks for the opportunity to be featured, this is a great idea!

My name is Georgette Jupe and I am originally from San Antonio, Texas but have jumped across the Atlantic and now live and work in Florence, Italy. When I am not blogging or out & about in the city, I am eating and trying new recipes with my Florentine boyfriend Tommaso. Coming from the land of convenience {America} to Italy where food is meant to be ‘slow’ was life-changing.

Now we both really enjoy exploring where our food comes from and taking the time to pick out quality ingredients directly (when possible) from the source. It makes cooking so much more fun and I have never loved vegetables more!

V: It's very hard to get quality ingredients where I live, so you know I'm jealous!  You sound so passionate about food, would you describe yourself as a foodie?

G: To be honest the term “foodie,” like “expat,” for me can bring about a ‘snobby’ connotation that I am not a fan of. The simple fact is that I love food, appreciate food, and “live to eat” so I think that would put me in the ‘foodie’ category, though the best dishes in Tuscany are those made with simple, cheap, seasonal ingredients.

V: That sounds very true to what I've experienced in Europe and hearkens to the locavore movement emerging around the world.  Also - that pumpkin, potato, and pancetta soup Tommaso made when we visited you guys in October was out of this world, so you guys are definitely doing something right!

G: Thanks, I think we made that soup a lot that month!

V: I don't blame you! I would have too! In fact, I'm gonna throw in a pic of that gorgeous soup, just because it was *that good!*

Tommaso's amazing soup

V: Of course I have to ask, what got you interested in cooking in the first place?

G: When I first moved abroad, I was always trying to mimic recipes from home for friends here and by having to create meals from scratch this made me become a lot more interested in food. Making thanksgiving dinner, for example, was a huge challenge since there was no ready-made anything available. After discovering that cooking isn’t really that hard, I soon got really into trying all sorts of different recipes.

V: Sounds like a great reason. Thanksgiving - what a perfect holiday to share with your Italian friends! Our friends in Switzerland love to visit for that holiday :)  So, what got you interesting in food in general?

G: I love and appreciate the healthy lifestyle many Italians have and their love of food and life has rubbed off on me. Even being around Tommaso’s mother, who is a great cook, has made me want to try more recipes myself. Also, I am a lot more open to trying new foods and I eat a lot of things that before I couldn’t even imagine trying, like anchovies, rabbit and wild boar.

V: I still can't get into anchovies but trying new things is essential to enjoying so many foods! Good for you! What foods do you find yourself leaning towards when cooking everyday meals at home?

G: We tend to use lots of vegetables since we recently purchased a weekly delivery of seasonal veggies from a nearby farm in Tuscany. We get all sorts of crazy veggies that we have no idea what they are, so we often have to just guess how to use them.

V: That sounds so fun!

G: We love any kind of cheese and can’t help that it seems to make its way into whatever we are cooking. We also love to experiment with spices; currently various curries seem to be our favorite dishes to cook, accompanied often with coconut milk. Tomatoes, ginger and garlic are staples that we cannot live without.

V: Oh wow, I know you made a really complicated green curry a while back! I was very impressed. Next time I'll have to bug you to take pix of it as you cook it and submit that recipe for us!  So, when you feel like experimenting in the kitchen, what inspires you?

G: To be honest, I read a lot of food blogs that really inspire me that are based here in Tuscany - that along with pinterest & food shows like Top Chef & Come Dine with Me, inspire me to try anything.

V: Oh, I've never heard of Come Dine with Me, I will have to look for it!  Would you like to share which blogs specifically inspire you?

G: There are many food blogs that inspire me and I would love to share them with you all, here are my top 3 go-to food blogs.

V: Wow! The name of that last blog has my mouth watering! Garlic, oil, and red peppers? Heck yeah!  Since you live in what many would consider the best country for food in the world, we'd love for you to share with us some of your favorite local restaurants.

G: Eating out is a big deal in Italy and we do it much less than in the states because of the expense. This is also because dinner never just includes the food, but also wine, fizz water, espresso, and of course the after dinner liquor like lemoncello or grappa depending on what area of Italy you are in. Some of my favorite restaurants are small places where locals frequent; while not looking that snazzy, they are all special.

A small lunch place, Osteria il Buongustai is steps from Piazza della Signoria in the historical center of Florence and is run by the same ladies for I don’t know how many years, the prices are low and the food is traditional and tasty.  They make the best pasta alla carbonara and cheesecake. Number two would be Pizzeria Acone up in the mountain of Monte Giovi above Rufina - they have a secret ‘pasta aconese’ that they refuse to reveal the recipe for. For a really awesome bistecca fiorentina – {Florentine steak}, we go to Trattoria Osvaldo.

V: How many times can a girl feel jealous in one interview? Those places sound fantastic! I really enjoyed dining with you at Touch Florence and maybe even more at Acqua Al 2!  No English menus there.  (For our American readers, there is an Acqua Al 2 in San Diego and I'd love to hear a review of it!)

Ok enough of my rambling, what recipe are you sharing with us today?

G: The recipe we are sharing is an appetizer that I had at a party here in Florence. While not Italian in nature it used many ingredients that I love and wouldn’t think to put together. This is perfect if you want a stress free recipe that your guests will remember, and involves very few ingredients.

Bacon-wrapped stuffed figs – perfect holiday (or anytime) appetizer

My idea for the appetizer included taking figs, dried or not, and stuffing them with goat cheese, walnuts, dates, and wrapping them in bacon. I got this idea from a party at a friend’s house where they served bacon-wrapped dates and I made an excuse every five minutes to slink by the table and grab more, they were so yummy! I promise you this is the easiest recipe imaginable and everyone will love them {and you}. People who don’t even know what a ‘date’ is will savor every bite.

Dried Figs
Goat Cheese

Preheat the broiler before setup. Cut the dried figs in half and do the same with the bacon. Stuff each fig-half with goat cheese and press in the walnuts and date. I usually cut up the dates and nuts into small pieces beforehand to make it easier. Wrap each stuffed fig-half with a half-slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

bacon wrapped figs

Line them on a medium baking sheet {I covered mine with baking paper}. Broil them for about five or 10 minutes until the outside is crispy, super easy!

V: Take a look at this final product!

That looks really delicious - I think the hubby would love them!  Thank you so much!
As Georgette mentioned, she also has a blog about being an American girl in Italy. Be sure to check it out - it has a lot of really useful tips, not to mention a great layout!

Also, the amazing soup I mentioned earlier is featured on her blog, here:

Give it a go! You really won't be disappointed!  

Thanks for joining us!

If you think you've got what it takes to be featured as one of our Home Cooking Heroes please don't hesitate to contact us!

Ciao for now, and of course, Buon Appetito!


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