“We’re not completely serious when we say that zombies are coming. But we do feel we’re living out the end of something. So, what is this apocalypse?”
That’s how the new book, Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse, Another Cookbook of Sorts, begins. It then goes on to explain why the authors have become ever more concerned about the survival of their families in this modern and, sometimes, terrifying age.
While at first it might sound like the work of a crazy person, it caught my attention because it was written by Frederic Morin and David McMillan, the owners of Montreal’s famed restaurant, Joe Beef, which is seemingly the favorite destination of every famous (and not so famous) foodie on earth. Just like their first acclaimed book, The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts, it was written with Meredith Erickson.
The book certainly lives up to its title and is not like any other cookbook I’ve ever encountered, but it does also include many interesting recipes whether or not you’re making them from the safety of your home bunker.
I was particularly drawn to their fig bars. The recipe includes this bit of history: “This was one of the first desserts we had on the menu, back when Joe Beef—the space—was small and it was four of us in the front—Allison, Vanya, Meredith, and Julie—and one dishwasher who never showed up.”
It also seems like a throwback to a calmer time. And despite the premise of the book, I have to say it’s pretty hard to image the possibility of an apocalypse while munching on a comforting fig bar.
For the Fig Purée:
- 1 3/4 cups Dried black figs, roughly chopped
- 3⁄4 cup Water
- 1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp Fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Honey
For the Cookie Dough:
- 1⁄2 cup Unsalted butter, softened
- 1⁄2 tsp Sea salt
- 1⁄4 cup Confectioners’ sugar
- Pinch ground cloves
- 1⁄2 tsp Ground cinnamon
- 1⁄4 tsp Ground nutmeg
- 1 large Egg, beaten
- 1⁄4 cup Tapioca flour
- 1⁄3 cup Rice flour
- 2 Tbsp Potato starch
- 2⁄3 cup Hazelnut meal/flour
For the Whipped Blue Cheese (optional):
- 1 cup Cold heavy cream (35-percent butterfat)
- 3 1⁄2 oz Blue cheese, room temperature, crumbled into small pieces
- 2 Tbsp Honey
- In a small pot over medium heat, combine the figs, water, lemon juice and honey, and cook until almost all of the water has evaporated, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth.
- Line a small baking sheet or pan with plastic wrap. Using an offset spatula, spread the fig paste into a 12 x 2 x 2 1⁄2-inch rectangle (the purée should be about half-an-inch thick) on the plastic wrap—you can spread it along the bottom edge of the pan to create an even border. Cover the fig filling with the wrap and transfer to the freezer to chill for at least one-and-a-half hours.
- For the cookie dough: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, salt, confectioners’ sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg on medium speed until well creamed. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs, and continue to mix, on medium-low speed now for 20 seconds or so. Reduce the speed to low and add the flours, potato starch, and hazelnut meal, mixing until just combined.
- On a large sheet of parchment paper (large enough to line a sheet pan), trace a 12 x 7-inch rectangle. Using a moistened offset spatula, spread out the dough to cover the surface of the rectangle. Lay a sheet of parchment on top of the dough, then use a rolling pin to gently even out the surface. Refrigerate for 45 minutes or more.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
- Remove the dough from the fridge and the fig paste from the freezer. Let the dough thaw for 5 to 10 minutes so that it softens up enough to be folded without cracking. Remove the top layer of parchment. Unwrap the fig paste and lay it in the center of the dough rectangle. Using the bottom parchment paper for support, carefully fold one of the long sides of the dough over the fig paste, then fold the other long side over, pressing down gently to create a seal—you can use your offset spatula to smooth out the seam. Move the wrapped fig roll to the side and line the sheet pan with a fresh sheet of parchment. Transfer the fig roll to the sheet pan, making sure the seal rests on the parchment rather than facing up. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before baking.
- While the fig roll is chilling, make the blue cheese cream (if using): Whip the cream until medium peaks form, and add the blue cheese and honey. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Bake the fig roll for 25 to 30 minutes, until the roll looks golden and the edges start to brown.
- When the fig roll comes out of the oven, let cool for 30 to 60 minutes, then cut into 6 large cookies. Serve one dollop of the blue cheese cream per cookie.