Sunday, July 17, 2011

what's doing with the figs

The fig tree is still in its early stages of ripening, so for now it's recipe planning and enjoying a few fresh day to day.  Last fall after reading my friend Arpi's blog, I begged the recipe she talked about, but it was too late in the season for me to get enough figs to try it, so I've started looking it over to see if I want to make any changes in anticipation of the coming 'fig drop'.  I rarely do a recipe verbatim unless it's one of those 'handed down for 13 generations and is perfect just like it is' recipes or comes with very strong recommendations for its perfection.  Those I do verbatim the first time, then we'll see.  Most of the time, it's a case of what I have on hand vs. what's written in the recipe, but experience and taste also kick in, and sometimes a girl's just gotta change it up.

the view from an apartment at Los Piedaos
The recipe for the fig tart I'll share once I make it so I can report on it.  It comes via Spain, with inspiration from Jamie Oliver, from my friends Fred & Arpi who are kindly keeping a room ready for my eventual arrival to Los Piedaos.  You'll hear more about them and hopefully even from them in the future. Fred changes things up too, and I'll take his notes into account as well when I develop my own version, although Arpi did say it was the best she ever tasted, so I may have to try his version ... at least once.  Stay tuned.

Other figs will go into preserves, and when I was looking about for different inspirations, this simple recipe was the one I kept thinking about, in part because it's so simple, and it includes lemon and ginger, two of my favorite things.  I think it was also because of the lovely article that April McGreger wrote last summer (read the whole post here).  Yes, she also acknowledges this sexy food for its sensual qualities, but it goes beyond that.  The fig for her is an inspiration, a muse, and a strong memory of family.  In her description of the fig cake recipe, it's also a community bond.  That's sexy food.

from the original post, figs simmering with
lemons and ginger for preserves
I'll report back when I try the preserves as well, but since there may be others out there with ripening fig trees wondering what they'll do with it all, I thought I'd share one of my current inspirations to wait for each lovely fruit:

Old Fashioned Whole-Fig Preserves (as posted by April McGreger)

Traditionally, these preserves are made with Brown Turkey and Celeste (or Sugar Fig) varieties, but any variety will work.

Yields 5-6 half-pint jars

8 cups small, firm but ripe figs
2 cups sugar (unrefined may be used)
1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small lemon, thinly sliced
juice of another small lemon
about 1 cup of water

In a wide, heavy-bottomed, nonreactive pot, layer the figs with the lemon slices, sugar, sliced ginger, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

The next day, add the cup of water and cover the pot with a lid or piece of foil.  Bring the figs to a simmer over medium heat, then turn the heat down to low and cook, covered, for an hour.

After one hour, vent the lid (place askew so not completely covered) and cook another half hour or until the figs are translucent and the syrup has thickened.

Transfer the figs to sterilized jars and refrigerate, or process for 5 minutes in a water-bath canner to store on the shelf.

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