Archive for the 'figs' Category

24
Nov
12

Oooey, gooey and a little chewy

Figs or grilled sandwiches?  Which is it to be today?  How about I just combine the two?  After all, the apple cheese grilled combo was delicious.  I didn’t write about the pear smoked Gouda sandwich, because it fell flat for me.  But I did learn that smoked Gouda is not a melty cheese!   Should I be writing about the failures as well as the successes?  You guys tell me.

The other day, in an effort to use the fresh figs in some way that didn’t involve something too sweet or a baked good, I created a more savory fig concoction.  My taste buds approved this delightful combination.  May I present, the Grilled Cheeses and Fig sandwich…………………………….

 Spread coconut oil** on sourdough bread slices first, then place oiled side down in a cold non-stick pan.  Cover the bread with Havarti cheese slices and top with sliced fresh figs.

Next I topped the figs with some soft goat cheese, nice and tangy!

The figs were not super flavorful nor sweet so I decided to drizzle honey over the goat cheese.  A very wise choice.

I added more Havarti cheese to help hold the sandwich all together, once all of the cheeses start to melt.  Cheese makes a very good sandwich “glue”.

And we pop the other coconut oiled bread slice on top and turn the heat to a very low setting and cover the pan with a lid.  I keep the heat low so the cheese melts as the bread slowly toasts without burning. The lid helps to heat the pan , sort of like a mini oven.

Using a wide spatula, gently turn your beautifully toasted sandwich over and continue to grill until the other side is equally toasted and golden.

 Some of the honey will spill out and that is a good thing.  The edges of the sandwich will get caramelized – OMG, right?

And here is the beautiful end result.  The sourdough bread was a perfect choice for this tasty treat.  It’s chewy texture and slight tang married perfectly with the zing of the goat cheese and the sweetness of the honey drizzled fig.  The heating of the fig brought out more flavor.  Havarti cheese is very mild and agreeable, creating no sharp contrast with the goat cheese, just lovely meltiness and ooziness.

One last parting shot because I really liked the shininess of caramelized bread edges and the melted cheese with that pretty fig poking out.

Get creative with your grilled sandwiches.  Try different bread, cheese and fruit/veggie combinations.   Have fun with your food.  Your taste buds will thank you.

**NOTE:  Coconut oil is usually rock hard.  For this sandwich I gently heated the oil (DO NOT MICROWAVE) in a metal measuring cup over the lowest setting on my cook top and then used a pastry brush to apply the oil to the bread.

07
Nov
12

Caramel and figs? Go “fig”ure!

In 2009, I posted Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie.  Wow, have I really been blogging for over 3 years?  Well, I’ve been pretty lazy this past year about posting on a regular basis, but I’ve been bitten by the Blog Bug recently and I’m back for more fun.  Anyway, in the fig tart story I gushed about my crush on cookbook author and food genius, Marie Simmons. I also shared a recipe from her wonderful book, Fig Heaven.  Since I am on a fig roll this week, I tried another recipe from the cookbook.  Heavenly is a perfect descriptive word for this sauce.

FRESH FIG AND CARAMEL SAUCE FOR ICE CREAM

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

6 to 8 ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed, halved lengthwise

¼ cup sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt the butter in a 9 or 10 inch skillet until foamy.

Add the figs, cut side down, and

sprinkle evenly with the sugar. Cook, without stirring, over medium heat until the sugar caramelizes and the figs are browned on the bottom, about 5 minutes.

 Carefully turn the figs over and cook 2 minutes more.

Remove the figs to a serving bowl.

Add the cream to the skillet and boil,

stirring, until it has reduced slightly and the sugar has melted into the cream to make a caramel-colored sauce.  Let stand off heat for a few minutes.

Then stir in the vanilla and add to the figs.  Serve warm over ice cream.

My original intention was to serve this sauce over some ice cream, as the recipe indicates.  Since I had fresh baked coffee cake in the house, I went with a more decadent choice.  Coffee cake ala mode, the mode being Häagen-Dazs Caramel Cone ice cream, and this luscious fig caramel sauce.  It was surprisingly light.

I may have another fig recipe in the works, so check back with me, or better yet, just subscribe to this blog and you will receive an email the next time I share.  Have a figtastic day!

03
Nov
12

mmmmmmm……..coffee cake!

Fall is in full swing in the Pacific Northwest.  We’ve been having almost non-stop rain in Portland for the entire month of October.  As we enter in to the month of November, Katie and I are still eating bounty from our garden and enjoying the fruits from the trees.  I’m especially happy about the crop of fresh figs we have this year.  Last year the tree was loaded with fruit, but none of it ever ripened.  This year it’s falling on the ground, there is so much of it!

That being said, what does one do with so many fresh figs?  Well, some of them get sent to work for our co-workers to enjoy.  I made some fig bars one weekend, mostly to try the recipe and then ship off to our respective jobs.  Everyone approved.  During this week I cooked a bunch of figs down with some added honey and sugar.  Not having a plan for this fig jam, I just let things evolve, as I do.  This morning the fig jam had a purpose.

Chop up fresh figs, throw ’em in a pot, add sugar and honey to your taste and just let it cook down. If it’s still chunky, you can puree it; I used a stick blender to smooth this.

As most of you know, I love Ruth Reichl.   I am still sad about the demise of Gourmet magazine.  It was far superior to Bon Appétit, in my humble opinion.  Thank goodness I held on to tons of my old Gourmets.  One thing I am especially happy I saved is the Letter from the Editor page that I ripped from the December 2001 issue.  It is safely wrapped in a protective plastic sleeve and inserted into my binder of often used recipes.

One usually does not find a recipe on the Editor page, but good ol’ Ruth shared this one from Marion Cunningham’s The Breakfast Book.  It is a very straightforward, simple, delicious coffee cake.  The addition of fig is my contribution to the recipe.

A beautiful, basic coffee cake. This smells so good!

FIG COFFEE CAKE

2 STICKS UNSALTED BUTTER

1 CUP SUGAR

3 EGGS

2 ½ CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR

2 TEASPOONS BAKING POWDER

1 TEASPOON BAKING SODA

1 TEASPOON SALT

1 CUP SOUR CREAM

5 TEASPOONS VANILLA

FIG JAM

Pre-heat oven to 350°  Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl on a standing mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.  In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add this to the butter mixture.  Stir sour cream and vanilla together and add to the batter.  Mix just until everything comes together to a smooth, thick batter.

Grease a non-stick 10 inch bundt pan.  Spoon half of the batter into the pan, smoothing evenly.  Make a sort of ditch in the center of the batter.  Fill the ditch with fig jam.  Spoon the remaining batter over the top and spread evenly.  Bake for about 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes;  remove cake from pan.  You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

You can serve it plain. Plain sounds pretty ordinary, but this is not ordinary coffee cake.

Or you can dress it up by drizzling a little honey over the top while it is still warm. This was soooo good!

22
Oct
09

What’s for dinner?

“What’s for dinner?”  I hear this question from my spouse quite frequently.  I also hear it from my co-workers.  Not that the co-workers come to my house for dinner, but they are always interested in what goes on in my home kitchen.  I often bring leftovers for lunch, and someone always comments on how good something smells.

Last night I wanted to keep it light, as we have been eating some higher fat things lately and clothes are beginning to fit a bit snug.  I always enjoy at big salad meal and some warm bread.  I baked up a nice Brown Beer Bread and a made a hearty salad, filled with protein and veggies.  The salad dressing was super tasty and super easy.

Salad full o goodness, dressed with Fig Lavender Dressing and Brown Beer Bread
Salad full o’ goodness, dressed with Fig Lavender Dressing and Brown Beer Bread

 

FIG LAVENDER DRESSING

1 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp fig glaze (see Chocolate Fig Custard Cake post for recipe)

1 tbsp lavender vinegar (purchased at a lavender farm, but you could make your own.  Steep dried lavender in white vinegar for a few weeks.)

Whisk together in small bowl and dress salad.  That’s it.

SALAD

1 package Trader Joe’s Vegetarian “Chicken”

1 head Romain heart, roughly chopped

1 large slice red onion, finely chopped

1/2 red bell pepper. cut in bit size pieces

1/4 cup sliced black olives

1 medium carrot, shredded

1 small tomato, chopped and seeded

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 small roasted beet, cut in small cubes

1/2 large avocado, cubed

Heat a non-stick saute pan over medium high heat.  Spray pan with non stick canola or olive oil.  Toss in “chicken” strips.  Season to taste.  I used garlic powder, onion powder, poultry seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cook until slightly browned, just a couple of minutes.  Set pan aside to cool while you put the salad together.

In a large bowl, mix Romain, red onion, red bell pepper, olives, carrot and tomato, Parmesan cheese, and cooled “chicken” pieces.  Drizzle on dressing and toss.  Divide among salad bowls and top with avocado and beet cubes.  This recipe served 2 adults as a main meal.  It can serve 4 – 6 as a side salad.

You can use whatever dressing you like on the salad; but if you made the recipe for the Chocolate Fig Custard cake and have leftover fig glaze, you should really try this.  So good!

BROWN BEER BREAD

3 cups all purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

3 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

12 ounces Black Butte Porter (or other dark beer, Not Guinness!**) Room temperature

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray 9 x 5′ loaf pan with non stick spray.  Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.  Add beer all at once, mixing as little as possible.  Batter will be lumpy.

Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Pour melted butter evenly over the top and bake for 45 – 50 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.  Turn out on rack to cool.

**  You can use Guinness in bottles but not the kind that comes in the can.  The canned variety gets it’s carbonation from nitro, which doesn’t work well with this bread recipe.

 

14
Oct
09

Chocolate Fig Custard Cake

Dont throw away those scraps of cake; create a new one!

Don't throw away those scraps of cake; create a new one!

My Perfect Chocolate Cake recipe rises really high.  When I made the cake for the Fall Themed Birthday Cake post, I had the piece left over from leveling it.  I hate to waste food, so I wrapped it up and saved it for another purpose.  At my current job as well as my previous one, we make a lot of bread pudding from left over breads, croissants and loaf cakes.  Since I can practically make bread pudding in my sleep, I decided to make this moist, not-too-sweet Chocolate Fig Custard cake.

Chocolate Fig Custard Cake

Chocolate cake, cut into 3/4″ chunks, enough to fit into a 9″ round cake pan

5 large fresh figs, each cut into 12 pieces

Spray 9 ” round cake pan with 2″ high sides with non stick spray

Place cake chunks in pan to cover bottom, layer fig chunks on top of cake chunks, then top with remaining cake chunks.  Prepare custard.

Cardamom Custard

1 cup whole milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half n half

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp ground cardamom

8 large eggs, room temperature

Place the dairy, sugar, vanilla and cardamom in saucepan.  Heat until warm to the touch.

Beat eggs in medium mixing bowl.  While whisking, add warm milk mixture to the eggs.  Pour through strainer to remove any egg shell pieces and thick egg white.

Gently ladle the custard over the cake pieces in pan.  Do this slowly and allow the cake to soak up the custard.  Press the cake down gently into the custard.  Fill the pan as full as it will hold without spilling over the sides.  Place cake pan on heavy baking sheet and place in the middle of a 350 degree oven.  Bake until done.  Cake is done when a knife stuck in the center comes out clean, about an hour and 10 minutes.  Be sure to check cake after one hour, or before if your oven tends to run very hot.

While the cake is baking, make the fig glaze:

5 large fresh figs, cut in small chunks

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Place chopped figs, water and granulated sugar in small saucepan.  Heat until figs are soft and the water and sugar are syrupy.  Place in food processor and puree.  Add powdered sugar and process until smooth.

While the cake is still hot, brush the fig glaze all over the top.  You will have left over glaze.  It’s really nice on some fig scones!

Cool cake on wire rack until cool enough to refrigerate.  Refrigerate until completely cold.  Run a butter knife along the side of pan, careful not to cut into cake.  Place a dinner plate covered in plastic wrap on top of cake.  Turn over and lift pan.  Cake should slide out.  Place serving plate on bottom of cake and invert.

 

 

06
Oct
09

Fresh Fig Tart and an ode to Marie

Insanely delicious Fresh Fig Tart with Crystallized Ginger

Insanely delicious Fresh Fig Tart with Crystallized Ginger

I have a confession.  I get crushes on cook book authors.  My daughter used to call them “my new friends”.  She was right.  I think of these wonderful people as my friends.  They give me advice and impart knowledge about food and it’s preparation at any hour of the day or night.  They are always there for me.  They encourage me to try new things and inspire me to create my own concoctions.  And they actually live the life I aspire to live.  And, to tell the truth, my life is turning into the life that others envy. 

Marie Simmons is my new BFF.  Oh, she doesn’t know it,  but she wrote a cookbook that I can’t stop thumbing through.  Fig Heaven is fantastic!  We moved into our house in March of this year and I’ve posted about all of the fabulous fruit trees we have.  The front yard boasts a bountiful fig tree.

Ripe for the picking

Ripe for the picking

I actually met my current “crush” Marie Simmons.  It was years ago, when I was beginning to get Naked Baker off the ground.  Another cook book author crush, Patricia Greenberg, was doing a soy demonstration in the home of a chef in the hills of Berkley, California.  She invited me to attend (well, sort of, we did have to pay for the event, but if was sooooooo worth it).  There were about 15 people in attendance and we all sat in this tiny dining room facing the open kitchen.  Patricia did her demonstration of soy genius making a complete meal including appetizer and dessert.  Afterwards, we all sat down to a wonderful meal, complete with wine.  The woman seated to my left and I started a conversation as people do when they are sharing a meal.  We introduced ourselves and talked a bit about what we do, what our interests are, why we were attending this event and so on.  Her name stuck in my head: Marie Simmons.

I did not know who Marie Simmons was.  I know she told me she had written cook books and articles for food magazines.  I wanted to be her friend, but at the time I was too shy and did not feel confident in myself to persue any type of communication with this woman.   She was really nice and actually interested in my little business.  She said all of the usual nice things, very encouraging and wished me success in my endeavours.

The very next day I saw that name, Marie Simmons, in a Bon Appetit magazine.  I started to see her name in a lot of those magazines.  Wow!  I sat next to a food celebrity and talked to her and she was a normal person.  I think it is good that I did not know how important this Marie Simmons actually was.  She was just a nice pleasant woman who I had the opportunity to share a meal with.

Katie, my wonderful spouse, claims to be anti-fig.  In fact, I’ve met a number of not-so-much fig fans.  Marie, your recipe for Fresh Fig tart made a believer out of Katie!  She loved this.  I loved this so much I made her take it to work so I would not be tempted to nibble on it all day today.  The crust is amazing, like a butter cookie.  I look forward to trying some of the savory recipes before all of the figs are gone.  So, here’s to you, Marie, and your wonderful fig cookbook.  And, hopefully you won’t mind, but I am posting this recipe for my readers to enjoy.

Fresh Fig Tart

With Crystallized Ginger

From Fig Heaven by Marie Simmons 

1 ½ cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour

6 tbsp granulated sugar

¼ tsp salt

10 tbsp (1 stick plus 2 tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch pieces

1 egg yolk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 pounds (approximately) firm, ripe figs, any variety, stems trimmed

2 tbsp finely chopped crystallized ginger

Confectioners’ sugar 

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch loose-bottomed tart pan.

 2.  Combine ½ cups flour, 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of  a food processor.  With the processor motor running, gradually add the butter through the feed tube.  Process until crumbly.

3.  Stir the egg yolk and the vanilla together in a small bowl.  With the motor running, gradually add the egg mixture through the feed tube.  Pulse the mixture until it begins to pull together.  (If the dough seems dry, sprinkle it with ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time (I used about ½ tablespoon when I made it).   The dough should be crumbly, but not dry.

4.  Turn the dough out directly into the prepared tart pan.  Gently press it on the bottom and up the sides of the pan in a relatively even layer; the dough will have a rough surface.  ( The dough can be made ahead and refrigerated, covered, until ready to bake.) 

5.  Reserve 8 to 10 of the figs for the topping.  Cut the remaining figs into ½ inch pieces.  Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons sugar, the remaining 2 tablespoons flour, and the crystallized ginger in a large bowl until blended.  Add the cut up figs and toss gently to coat them with the sugar mixture.  Spoon the filling evenly into the prepared crust; top with any sugar left in the bottom of the bowl.

6.  Bake the tart for 20 minutes.  Then reduce the oven temperature to 350° and bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown and the figs are hot and bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes.  (It took about 40 more minutes in my oven, but do check often after 25 minutes).  Remove from the oven

7.  Trim about ½ inch from the tops and bottoms of the reserved figs.  Cut each fig crosswise into three or four ¼ inch thick rounds.  Carefully place the sliced figs close together on the surface of the tart, pressing them down gently into the hot fig mixture.  Let the tart cool on a wire rack.

8.  Before serving, remove the rim from the pan.  Slide the tart, still on the base of the pan, onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.  Cut into wedges, and serve with a spoonful of whipped cream or a scoop of softened vanilla ice cream if desired.  (We served  it plain because we have been pigging out on home made ice cream all week and it’s time for a break from the butter fat!!!)

 

 




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